VIR­TUAL!RE­AL­ITY

IAN MC­FAR­LANE EX­AM­INES THE BUR­GEON­ING FOOT­BALL VIDEO GAMES MAR­KET AND ASKS

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Are video games tak­ing over?

AS A 32-year-old who has been a foot­ball fan since the age of six, I am be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­cerned with the ridicu­lous pop­u­lar­ity of foot­ball-re­lated video games.

Don’t get me wrong, I had games con­soles through­out my youth and en­joyed var­i­ous foot­ball games.

How­ever, I still loved noth­ing more than play­ing foot­ball for real, whether it be alone in the gar­den of my par­ent’s house or up the park with mates.

With most lo­cal parks near empty of foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­ity th­ese days, it ap­pears to high­light the fact that many young­sters have an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with play­ing with a con­trol pad in­stead of their feet.

There are many rea­sons why FIFA and Pro Evo­lu­tion Soc­cer have taken to­day’s youth, and even adults, hostage within their bed­rooms. Said game plat­forms are so ex­pan­sive th­ese days it is be­yond be­lief.

The in­ter­ac­tive fea­ture, where you can play some­one from around the world that you have never met, en­cour­ages young­sters, and some adults, to use up com­plete days and of­ten nights pre­tend­ing to be their he­roes through a con­trol pad, in­stead of try­ing to em­u­late their feats down the park.

You speak to a lot of young­sters th­ese days and their knowl­edge of world foot­ball is in­cred­i­ble, yet they have rarely watched real live footage of th­ese play­ers or read up on them.

No, in­stead they have ‘signed’ them for their club within a game mode on FIFA for in­stance. A lot of peo­ple my age and older de­vel­oped their foot­ball knowl­edge by read­ing foot­ball-re­lated pub­li­ca­tions, news­pa­pers, at­tend­ing games, watch­ing on tele­vi­sion and ab­sorb­ing fas­ci­nat­ing trivia off an older per­son.

I was aghast dur­ing the sum­mer

when I found that Sky Sports Pre­mier League and Foot­ball chan­nels ded­i­cated near enough full days’ pro­gram­ming to watch­ing peo­ple play FIFA against each other within a tour­na­ment for­mat.

What shocked me fur­ther­more is top foot­ball clubs around the world sign peo­ple on of­fi­cial con­tracts to be their FIFA game-play rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

FIFA have even re­leased their own squad shirt to wear while you’re sat in iso­la­tion pre­tend­ing to be Messi or Ron­aldo. How far is too far? I feel this is too far.

As a teenager in the hol­i­days, when not up the park play­ing footy with friends, we would of­ten play on multi-player on the Plays­ta­tion and later Plays­ta­tion 2.

We would each pick a team to play as and go through a cre­ated tour­na­ment, play­ing against each other on route to find out who was the best, thus cre­at­ing plenty of ban­ter.

Games back then weren’t as ex­pan­sive and ridicu­lously addictive as they are now.

To for­mu­late a bet­ter per­spec­tive and for re­search pur­poses for this piece, a friend gave me a Plays­ta­tion 3, so then I bought quite a few mod­ern era foot­ball games to gather an idea of what all the fuss is about.

I started a man­ager ca­reer on FIFA 16 as Southamp­ton, you play through a sea­son, you make sign­ings, you de­vise scout­ing net­works and as near enough ev­ery ma­jor league in the world can be found on here, plus you have a myr­iad of play­ers to at­tempt to sign.

You re­ceive in-game e-mails from the board, play­ers, other job of­fers and other clubs ac­cept­ing/re­ject­ing bids you’ve made for their play­ers. All this and you haven’t even ex­pe­ri­enced any game play by this point!

Sadly, do­ing this re­search, I re­alised how addictive cur­rent foot­balling games can be and how much of your spare time you use on them.

I played through a sea­son and a half, mak­ing sign­ings, play­ing ev­ery game set at four min­utes per half and I was spend­ing un­healthy hours on it.

I didn’t en­gage the in­ter­ac­tive op­tion (the more addictive mode), yet the man­ager mode seemed to get hold of me with its re­al­ism.

So with this I could see how chil­dren spend the amount of time they do on it.

It was get­ting so bad that I was search­ing on the in­ter­net if cer­tain fea­tures on said game should hap­pen, tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tions etc.

This also con­sisted of me search­ing for a player’s ca­reer bi­og­ra­phy, be­cause he popped up in the fea­ture about young­sters to watch.

I have also no­ticed - and I be­lieve a lot of this is brought on by the video game cul­ture - that in­stead of fol­low­ing a team, a lot of chil­dren now will fol­low a player.

For in­stance, I know of a lot of young­sters who switched from Real Madrid to Ju­ven­tus, be­cause Ron­aldo moved there this sum­mer.

So the hold the player has has more grav­i­ta­tional pull than the club it­self. For in­stance, I can’t re­mem­ber any fans of Eric Can­tona swap­ping a Leeds shirt for a Manch­ester United one! Is it game cul­ture of the mod­ern era?

As the lat­est FIFA game has been re­leased, with Ron­aldo com­plete in Juve at­tire on the cover, young­sters will be spend­ing their pocket money on the FIFA player packs to use within the game.

This could also spell the end for foot­ball sticker and card col­lec­tions. Whether we like it or not within foot­ball, vir­tual re­al­ity is be­com­ing the re­al­ity within the eyes of many.

Must-haves? The lat­est edi­tions

In con­trol: Press­ing the right but­tons Looks re­al­is­tic: A Pro Evo­lu­tion graphic

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