If you ever get the chance to play Rock Band or Guitar Hero with O.J. Atogwe, the Rams safety has one simple rule: "If you're playing guitar, you can't sit down," he says. "Jimi Hendrix didn't sit down. Slash doesn't sit down. You gotta stand up and you gotta jam. You need to feel the music to play the music, and you can't do that sitting on your couch."
Atogwe, who prefers to play lead guitar in the music titles, is also one of the most hard-core gamers in the NFL, the rare kind of guy who not only talks about being the best but also has the skills to prove it.
He once walked into the headquarters of IGN, a popular video game website, and beat every last expert in Fight Night Round 3. And by beat, I mean beat down, knocked out, leaving everyone in the room scratching their heads at how some fooball player just walked in and smacked them down on their own turf.
And I should know. I was one of his first victims.
I recently sat down with Atogwe to pick his brain about the current state of gaming, what he's playing now and what he wants to see in Madden NFL 10.
What was the first video game that had you hooked?
O.J. Atogwe: Streets of Rage for the Sega Genesis. I used to play that game to death. It was one of the first games I remember where you could double team enemies. I loved it. I used to play a lot of old computer games and Nintendo, but I really fell in love with video games on the Genesis.
What are you playing now?
Star Wars: Force Unleashed. It's a great game. You're a Sith apprentice working for Darth Vader and you go on secret missions to kill both Imperial forces and the Rebels. I have a lot of fun using the Force powers to tear people up. They have this one electrocution power where you grab an enemy, hold him up in the air and shock him, then when you're done you get to throw him somewhere.
What game are you most looking forward to in 2009?
Fight Night Round 4. They took a year off, and I was pretty upset with EA for doing that, so they better come with it in 09. Fight Night and God of War 3, those are the two games I can't wait to see.
Do you still play Fight Night Round 3 online?
I still play it online when I get a chance, but not as much during the season. When the season ends, I'm going to start a whole new career. I miss my boxing.
What do you think EA needs to fix in Round 4?
The only downfall with Fight Night Round 3 was the lack of boxers. The best part of the game should be having the boxers you want to play as, so you can create match-ups. That was really the only drawback in my opinion. If they would've had more boxers, that would've been the best sports game ever. For the new game, my advice to EA is to basically sign as many fighters as you can. The more you get, the better the game will be.
In Madden 08, you were an 81 overall. But you jumped to a 90 in Madden 09. How excited were you to see the bump in respect from the big man?
That made me extremely happy. I had great hands, great speed. The only thing I wasn't happy about was that they had my awareness down (78). They need to fix that. I think I'm a pretty keen and intelligent player. They downgraded me on my intelligence, which I just don't understand. Don't they know I went to Stanford? [laughs]
Should they add a ball hawk rating in Madden NFL 10?
I think they should. They should come to me, put me on the cover and then introduce an all-new ball hawk system. A lot of times when you play, the defensive backs drop some easy picks. That's why you need a ball hawk system to tighten things up back there, so we can recreate what goes on with safeties and corners.
Do you like how your character looks in the game?
The game makes me want to workout a little more in real life. I need to be bigger in the game. [laughs] I need to get a little more muscle.
CHECK OUT: ACTION ALLSTARS
Is your kid a fan of games like Club Penguin? If so, have them check out actionallstars.com, a new browser-based virtual world geared towards kids 6-14. The site, developed by newcomer Six Degrees Games and former Madden Producer David Ortiz, features official licenses from Major League Baseball and the NBA, and enables kids to design their own avatar, compete in daily challenges and even decorate their own "Home Turf," all the while walking around the sports-themed world and interacting with other sports fans their own age.
My seven-year-old son tried an early demo, and if his response of shouting "10 out of 10!" is any indication, Six Degrees Games might have a huge hit on their hands.