Kent Brown dressed in a spandex motion suit for the development of the EA Sports Championship Bass video game, circa 2000. Photo Kent Brown.

Developed in 2000, EA Sports Championship Bass changed the way gamers played the sport on their computers. Prior to this, the game was pretty boring with two dimensional graphics and poor gear selections. EA Sports not only added to the conditions, tackle and other parameters bass anglers are accustomed to when they fish, they changed the graphics to appear more 3D-like and you actually saw your angler cast, set the hook and reel the bass in.  That’s what this story focuses on, the angler and his motions.

But let’s take a little sidebar for a moment.

If you’ve been part of the western bass fishing scene since the 80s, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Kent Brown. He’s been a staple on the western tournament circuits nearly since they began and because of that, he’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to western history. Although I consider myself pretty good at the history of the west, my knowledge lacks a bit when it comes to what happened in northern California – Brown lived it all.

A while back I was on travel for my day job and happened to be in his neighborhood. After work I went over to his house and hung out for a while – talking old times and bass fishing history as it pertains to the Left Coast.

When I got to Brown’s house, on the kitchen island he had a couple of stacks of goodies he wanted to show me. One of these goodies was none other than the first contemporary bass fishing video game – Championship Bass by EA Sports.

EA Sports Championship Bass video game circa 2000. Photo Terry Battisti.

Well, wouldn’t you know it but Brown, who hosts the Ultimate Bass Radio Show on 1140 KHTK-AM, was the dude who took part in helping develop the movement for the on-screen angler.

“It was called Motion Capture and we did it around the summer of ’98,” he said. “They (EA Sports) were in the early stages of building their Golf, NASCAR and other games. I was doing stuff for West Coast Bass at the time and a guy called me and was looking for a fisherman.

EA Sports Championship Bass video game inside cover. Photo Terry Battisti.

“They wanted someone to come to Hollywood and work with them for $1000 a day. I told them I was their man. They made the reservations and I headed south.

“We did the work in the same studio they used to film Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Once I was in there they had me dress up in this spandex suit covered with silver balls. The balls are the indicators for the laser and they capture the movement.

“Not only did they have the balls on the suit but they put them on the rod, reel, lure, you name it, anything that was going to move and was part of the movement of fishing they had balls attached to.

“They’d give me a rod and I’d make flips with a jig, overhand casts, sidearm casts, you name it. I used casting rods, spinning rods and then would play like I was fighting a bass and landing it. The fish ended up being a sandbag.

EA Sports Championship Bass back cover. Photo Terry Battisti.

“As I was doing all this, the guy doing the work was pretty nervous because I was pitching and casting to the motion capture cameras that cost $50,000 each.

“It was a pretty fun time.”

When all the filming was done that was just the beginning.

“After they do all the motion capture, they then download the data and what comes out the other end is just a stickman. Then they have to get the animators into the studio and fill everything in. It was an amazing process to be part of.”

So there you have it folks, Kent Brown was the angler behind the EA Sports Championship Bass game. Now I know why the casting was off and why so many fish were lost. I wonder why they didn’t include any action shots of him falling in the water while trying to land a frog fish? And come on bud, you’ve heard the saying, if your body ain’t built for yoga pants, don’t do them a disservice.

Thanks for sharing this Kent. It’s an awesome piece of angling history and to know one of our friends played a part in it makes it even better.