Madden bug makes NFL player tiny

Spreadsheet typo to blame as short-lived bug a resounding success among gamers; EA fix puts an end to fun and games.

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Given professional athletes' penchant for ribbing each other mercilessly over even the smallest transgression or imperfection, New York Jets lineman Michael King is probably having a rough time of it these days.

Due to a bug in a recent update to Electronic Arts' best-selling football game, Madden 2006, King can be seen in the game as a tiny, 7-inch-tall version of himself.

According to Phil Frazier, a Madden producer, the bug was the result of a typo in the spreadsheet that lists player attributes such as weight, height, and team affiliation. Frazier explained that the spreadsheet is designed to accept players' heights in inches, and therefore it expects a two-digit entry. Frazier said the roster updates--which are required for players participating in the online version of Madden and which can also be downloaded and saved for single-player versions--are used by a relatively small percentage of the game's players.

EA offers periodic downloadable updates during the National Football League season that take player trades, injuries, and the like into account so players can have the most accurate team rosters. But in the most recent Madden roster update, King's height was entered mistakenly as "727," Frazier said. That effectively meant the system thought King was 7 inches tall.

"You can barely see him on the field, unless you go into replay [mode]," Frazier said. "He's a tiny little guy."

Frazier explained that the attempted update was released on Sept. 16 and the bug was quickly discovered. By Sept. 19, he said, it had been fixed, and anyone downloading the update after that got a normal-size King, who, according to the Jets Web site, is 6'3".

But Frazier also said EA's NCAA 06 Football had a similar bug written into the shipping version of the game. Thus, anyone who bought that game can find the tiny player.

"This is the most entertainment I've gotten out [of] a Madden game since '92," wrote a person identified as "Drohne."

"Best bug EVER," a person called "ManaByte" agreed.

In any case, Frazier said the bug didn't change the way Madden played, despite King's diminutive stature. But he did acknowledge the humor of the situation.

"It wouldn't affect play," Frazier said. "He would literally look like a little speck. If he was the running back, the ball would be so big he would literally be inside the ball, and the ball would [look like] it was moving around on the ground [on its own]."

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