New Video Game Offers Cultural Sports Action
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.
Just ahead, the latest from the North American International Auto Show. What's hot? What's not? And a first look at some new rides from China.
But first, let's say you love football and all that goes with it and you also love your historically black college or university. Now with the help of a new videogame, you can combine both of those loves. The Black College Football Experience draws on teams from HBCUs. You can store touchdowns for your favorite team. You can even be a drum major at the half-time show. For some gamers, it might just be the next big thing.
Jacqueline Beauchamp is the CEO of Nerjyzed Entertainment, which is producing the game. She joins us from Dallas to talk about it.
Ms. JACQUELINE BEAUCHAMP (CEO, Nerjyzed Entertainment): Thank you. Hello. How are you?
MARTIN: I'm good. So where did the idea for Black College Football Experience come from?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: It stemmed from the fact that it didn't exist. And when you have a passion for sports and a passion for HBCUs, bringing those two passions together we created and founded, one the Nerjyzed Entertainment Company, and two, bringing the first HBCU football game in the videogame market segment.
MARTIN: So you attended Southern, as I understand it? As I did?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. I'm a proud The Jaguar alum.
MARTIN: And did you love football when you were there?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.
MARTIN: What was your favorite thing about it?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: My favorite about it was just a couple things. One, the experience, the atmosphere and that the game does not stop when half time comes on the field. That's really when we believe at HBCUs that the competition is really fierce at that, you know, that 15-minute segment on the field and every individual is on their seats or standing up in the stands, cheering on for their favorite band.
MARTIN: Exactly. I was going to say that for a lot of people, it really isn't about the game as much as it is about the half-time show.
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: That's right.
MARTIN: You incorporate that into the game. How?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: We absolutely did. As most individuals that don't know, that have never experienced an HBCU football game, the half-time show - just as you stated - if you left that out of the game, it's no longer an HBCU game. So we wanted to make sure that we factor the half-time shows in the game. We literally went and recorded the majority of all of the schools' bands so that the half-time shows are actually very, very authentic from their music to their moves and now, their likeness. So there is an interactive element where you're playing doing the half-time shows and staying with the momentum and tempo. And let me tell you what we've got planned for this year is going to be phenomenal.
MARTIN: But here is - my question is, can you do a backbend as the drum major? That's really all I want to know. Is - can I - because that's the only way I'm ever going to do one - is in a game.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Hey, Michel, that's exactly what we're talking about. The excitement that we're getting ready to expand upon the half-time show is going to be phenomenal. So expect more for the half-time show for the videogame.
MARTIN: So what are some of the other cool features that you might not see in another game, another football game because there are other, you know, football videos out there obviously?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Yeah. They sure are. There are other football games. I think the manner in which - I mean, football is football. But what we wanted to make sure that we did was have a different level of experience where you factored in, not just the half-time shows, but what's also a big part of a black college football game. You've got elements of Greeks and so forth. So we've made sure that we put a little bit of everything in it that makes up the experience that you don't see in your other games that are on the market segment today.
MARTIN: I'm wondering who you think is going to be attracted to the game because some people, if I can say, well, you know, why market especially to African-American gamers, or - some people might say, gee, you know, you're limiting your market in this way. Why not make it more diverse? So what do you say to that?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: My answer to that would be is that we did not. HBCUs are not just open to only African-Americans. Anyone has the ability to attend those universities and those institutions. What we did was took on a product that does exist every year. We took that and created a videogame experience around it that once again everyone can experience. So it's not just an African-American-only product. It is a product that everyone else is able to enjoy now.
MARTIN: Let's talk about you a little bit. Some people might find it interesting that you're a woman and head of a company that produces not just video games but sports games at that. So…
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: What?
MARTIN: …just tell me a little bit - I don't know - because it's just unusual.
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Yeah. I've got and - I'm asked that question many, many times and my answer to that is why not a female. I have always been raised to the point of I can be anything that I put my mind to be, and it just so happens to be the CEO of Nerjyzed Entertainment. My background? I've had a degree electrical engineer minor with mathematics in computer science, and I will always love two things: sports and multimedia and animation. So when, once again, you merge those two things together, here lies Nerjyzed Entertainment, Jackie Beauchamp, and just continuing on with my passion…
MARTIN: What is the…
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: …which is a passion that I have for sports and multimedia.
MARTIN: What other sports do you like?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: I am a big basketball fan and I also love golf.
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: I'm a Tiger Woods fan.
MARTIN: What's your handicap?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: We won't say.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: I've spent too many hours in front of a console to…
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: That's exactly right.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Got to get more time out there, Michel.
MARTIN: What about women's sports, you know? That's sort of coming up the WNBA's kind of coming - I think it's had its 10th anniversary this past season. Any games in the offing with future women athletes?
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: You're absolute correct and that was - the key mission for Nerjyzed was essentially to be able to bring diverse products into the market segment in two categories: One targeting urban and as well as female. There is just not enough representation on either one of those, and so we wanted to make sure that we're going to do that and the answer is yes. You know, expect more announcements to hear that you're going to hear from us this year on products targeting both of those demographics.
MARTIN: All right. Jackie Beauchamp is CEO of Nerjyzed Entertainment. The "Black College Football Experience" is out now for PCs and would be out now soon on gaming consoles.
Jackie, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Ms. BEAUCHAMP: Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure.