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Isn’t he dreamy?

Video game publisher Mastiff announced today that they have acquired the Major League Eating (MLE) license, with their first game titled simply Major League Eating: The Game. Needless to say, I had a few questions about how you can make a competitive eating game, and Mastiff’s Head Woof (yes, that is his official title) was kind enough to answer them.

For those who may not instantly recognize the company, Mastiff was the publisher of quirky games like Gurumin and La Pucelle: Tactics. Bill Swartz is Mastiff’s pack leader. He’s a dude that knows how to not take life too seriously, as evidenced by his statements regarding the MLE:

“Major League Eaters aren’t just elite athletes. They are the people who built America. Or at least the competitive eating part of America. And I am deeply honored that the International Federation of Competitive Eating and Major League Eating choose Mastiff as their exclusive videogame partner.”

And his description of the new game:

Major League Eating: The Game features the world’s greatest gurgitory athletes competing across twelve different food types. Built much like a fighting game, MLE: The Game requires players to show brilliant on-screen eating; a mastery of offensive and defensive weapons including burps, belches, and mustard gas; and of course the technical mastery necessary to avoid emptying one’s stomach in a vividly colored reversal of fortune.

After reading this, I knew I had to talk to this man. I got in touch with Bill, and this is how it all went down.

Dan: So, Major League Eating, huh? How did this partnership form, and what made you want to do a game about competitive eating?

Bill: I believe good games come in large part from learning to deal with one’s deepest fears but in a controlled way. Well, I’ve always feared judgment day. I was sent to a religious school as a child and I still remember, as a second grader, listening to the preacher talk about chapter six of the Book of Revelation and its prophecy that one day we’d face The Four Horsemen Of The Esophagus. This video game is a chance for me to conquer that fear, and I hope also help other people in the same situation.

I also liked the fact that competitive eating is a popular sport (Ham and Eggs, a CE special on Spike this past Sunday, scored something like 816,000 viewers) filled with colorful characters but still on the fringes.

The International Federation of Competitive Eating was looking for a video game partner, and the rest is history.

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Dan: The first title, Major League Eating: The Game — it’s built like a fighting game?

Bill: Yes, but the two inspirations were Street Fighter Alpha and Mario Kart. The idea was to get something really simple to play but with a lot of depth that would come out as you got better, would be fun to watch, and would be fun at all skill levels.

Dan: Are there going to be finishing moves? Does the winner devour the loser?

Bill: Except to say there are signature moves, I’m going to take the 5th amendment here.

Dan: Are you using the likenesses of real-world competitive eaters? If so, did you do any motion capture to nail their eating style?

Bill: We looked really hard into motion capture, both with the great eaters and their stunt doubles, but ended up using another technology.

Dan: If you released a competitive eating game on the Wii, with motion-sensing eating controls, what would you do to prevent people from looking like complete perverts while playing it?

Bill: I’ve contacted our Department Of The Hypothetical, and I’ll contact you as soon as I hear back from them.

In the meantime, here’s one for you…. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed?

Dan: Finally, do you have the up-side or the down-side to the Swartz?

Bill: Tell you what I got. I keep a deep, deep burning hunger. I am, in the words of Badlands Booker, Focused And Hungry!!!!

Dan: Wow, great answers Bill! I won’t take up any more of your time (read: I’m dumbfounded by the awesomeness of your answers and can’t think of more questions). Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me, and I look forward to getting some stomach-on time with the game.

Bill: Glad you liked them… I had fun.

From the Press release:

About Mastiff:

Mastiff is a publisher of interactive entertainment with offices in Tokyo, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Titles from Mastiff include Gurumin for PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, Dr Sudoku for the GameBoy Advance, Pump It Up: Exceed, and La Pucelle: Tactics, which was awarded an Editor’s Choice Award from leading gaming website, IGN.com. Other releases include Gungrave: Overdose, Technic Beat and Top Gun: Combat Zones. Please visit www.mastiff-games.com for more information.

About Major League Eating:

Major League Eating (MLE), the world governing body of all stomach-centric sport, conducts more than 80 events annually, including the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y. Last year, MLE produced six hours of original programming on Spike TV and ESPN. The MLE competitive eating community, which numbers more than 8,000 veteran and rookie athletes, travels the nation in search of top titles and the glory that they provide.

No release date or platforms were yet announced for MLE: The Game.