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Spotlight on the History of the New Generation Negro League

For years, Sony’s MLB The Show franchise was the benchmark not only for baseball video games, but for sports games in general. This year’s MLB The Show 23 is doing something that has never been done before, telling the Negro League story in a new mode called “Storyline.”

The Negro League is an important part of baseball history and American History. The Negro League was formed around 1920 to provide a space to play professionally for black baseball players, who were barred from Major League Baseball due to segregation.

While the work of black and Latino players in the Negro Leagues is critical to the success of baseball as a sport, they Histories were rarely celebrated and acknowledged until recently .

Game Developer and MLB The Show Find out more about how they’re recreating this momentous moment in American history in this year’s franchise .

The Negro Leagues Storylines is a mod we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but just couldn’t figure out the right way to do it,” Russell explained. “As a black man, it’s very important to me that for the San Diego studio, we’re not just putting Negro league athletes on the field.”

Russell believes strongly in the importance of showcasing the history of the Negro League, but he also knows that he and the team must educate players on why this time in American history is critical to understanding baseball today important.

“The vast majority of our players don’t know who Satchel Page or Buck O’Neil are, they sure Don’t know Martin Taheebo and John Wesley Donaldson,” Russell explained. “So if we just throw them into the game, it’s not only disrespectful, it’s a deprivation of our community’s opportunity to learn.”

In order to do justice to the Negro League, Russell and his team knew they needed expert help. They work with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and in particular Museum Director Bob Kendrick – one of the leading authorities in the field History of the Negro League.

MLB the Show 23 Storylines promo art, with player facing the stadiumMLB the Show 23 Storylines promo art, with player facing the stadium

This partnership helps guide the team in designing the storyline mode and ensures they deliver to players Tell the story with care and respect. “There are two main experiences in storyline mode,” Russell told us. “Each athlete has an HBO-style mini-documentary, narrated by Bob Kendrick. Then, once the player understands the player’s background and history, you can play them at key moments in the Negro League.”


A point of friction in MLB The Show’s depiction of Negro League history

is figuring out how to tell this birth on an E-level scale The story of racial segregation and Jim Crow in America.

A key part of Russell’s efforts as black is to make sure they don’t replay black trauma On screen, instead celebrate the triumph and joy of black people. “Jim Crow is a terrible chapter in the history of this country. But it’s a rose story about triumph over adversity,” Russell explained. “It’s a celebration of these amazing men and women and the strength of the human spirit. This story can only happen in America, and that’s what we really want to focus on.”

As the team worked on the storylines, it became clear that some control had to be taken away from the player in order to tell these stories properly. “Video games are all about agency. So if we were talking about the Negro League and we used your control to tell these stories, what would that look like? Probably not good,” Russell said. “Especially if you control Jackie Robinson’s rookie year with the Dodgers, banana peels were thrown on the field and he was pinned and the N word was thrown at him. If we did that, we’d be involved in rebuilding black people Trauma.”

So, how do they tell these stories? The San Diego studio relied on Bob Kendrick to teach players about the intricacies of the Negro League in their short documentary segments, and they could then broadcast iconic moments from Negro League games for each featured baseball player.

Storyline in MLB The Show 23 with eight players: Jackie Robinson, John Donaldson, Martín Dihigo, John Jordan” Buck” O’Neil, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Hilton Smith and Hank Thompson. The lineup is a mix of well-known and lesser-known athletes who have played many different positions on the field. Russell went on to say that those eight players weren’t the only ones they wanted to focus on. Future seasons of the storyline could continue to explore these stories.

Speaking of the Negro League, Russell believes an important part of the program is not only educating the players about the history, It also inspires positive change in the world.

Over the past three years, for each of

Collector’s Edition*)MLB The Show Sold, Sony will donate to 501c nonprofit Donate $1. The previous two years it was the Jackie Robinson Foundation, this year it was the Negro League Baseball Museum.

“What’s really impactful and important is that we generate sustainable philanthropic funding directly from the game, Russell explained. “It’s not coming from anywhere else, we’re in the game, it’s a blank check the museum is doing with this money.”

Russell goes on to explain how they continue to explore this spirit through philanthropic partnerships. The gaming industry remains a very white industry, with many underrepresented communities unable to access or understand the myriad of careers that exist in game development.

“We have partnered with the Jackie Robinson Foundation to create a dedicated scholarship for black youth who wish to pursue a career in gaming . So money is important, but it’s more about intent and what you do with that money,” Russell told us.

Russell explained that at MLB The Show But the long nights and countless iterations paid off. “Making a video game is very difficult, making a good game is even harder. Through this process, I learned that you have to ask the right questions to find the answers. When everyone lets go of their ego, you can make something really special things.”



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