Have you ever wondered how much work goes into the commentating aspect of a video game?
Before word broke that EA Sports hired announcer Gus Johnson to be Madden 2011's play-by-play announcer, I had a chance to speak with him about his new gig.
JL: Part of what makes the Madden franchise so successful and so realistic is the pro-level announcers EA Sports attaches to it. Could you please talk about the style and flare you'll bring to the newest edition?
GJ: The number one thing that I try to bring is emotion. I like to add different temperatures. With all the great graphics and features, bringing that extra emotion and a little humor could really add to this year's edition.
JL: I'm wondering how much original personality you will inject into Madden '11. Has EA Sports given you any script or guidelines to follow, or were you given a lot of artistic freedom?
GJ: Oh yeah, we had thousands of pages of script. It could probably have gone from here to the moon. We had 30,000-40,000 thousand lines to read. We started recording the lines in January and just finished last week (mid-May).
JL: Madden has been a popular video game option for sports fans since 1989. How familiar are you with Madden and have you ever been a regular player of the game?
GJ: Oh yeah, I've definitely played. I'm not very good, but I've been playing for along time. I used to have Madden '93. I had it sitting in my room for years. I think I've got it around somewhere still. Now I have a PSP in my living room; I'm gonna get on and start playing that game. I can't let my son beat me.
JL: Has this experience taught you anything about your own style?
GJ: That's a great question and I'm glad you asked it. They brought in writers to write situations for me. Some of the situations and lines weren't things I was used to saying. It gave me new words, new terminology. Hopefully I can incorporate some of the things I learned. It was a great language practice, we could all use some refreshing once in a while.
JL: Appearing on the video game will expand your visibility, especially to a younger generation. How do you think this experience will help shape your future?
GJ: Well, you know, as you mentioned, hopefully I'll be able to connect with a younger generation. A lot of people play Madden; they swear by it (he feels honored to be a part of something that crosses generations).
JL: You are very well-rounded and do work in each of the four major sports. Which sport do you enjoy working with the most and why?
GJ: I'm a basketball guy when it's all said and done. I love the passion and I love the intimacy of the game. Sometimes, I call a game in front of 20,000, sometimes 8,000. I love the flow of the game, the artistry. It's almost like jazz, you have five guys working on separate tasks, but you have to return into the flow of the ensemble. It's something I've always loved and felt strongly about. To me, the best athletes in the world play basketball.
JL: Well, Mr Johnson, I think that's all I have for you today. It was a pleasure speaking with a Detroit guy who has made it big in the sports community. Thanks for taking a part of your day to speak with me.
GJ: Well it was a pleasure, Johnny. Why don't you holler at Royal Oak Shrine (his high school's rival) next time you drive by.
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