Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Sports Nerds Are Nerds Too

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 16 Oct 2012 12:00
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So yes, last week's Zero Punctuation. Pardon an old man (thirty next year!) who has to take his pleasures where he can. But obviously I wasn't going to genuinely review FIFA 13. It's sports. It's outside my remit. Team sports in particular I can't stand and can't even watch. Probably associations with high school when they used to make us play rugby in our shorts in the English winter, so in the changing room afterwards you'd have to run your fingers under the hot tap for five minutes to return enough sensation to do your shirt buttons up.

Some sports I can watch. Some of the Olympics, the non-team sports, the triumph of the individual spirit stuff. Like watching the weightlifters in case any of them suffer horrible injury again, the hopes of a nation shattering alongside their elbow joint. And gymnastics, because all those tight leotards are quite hypnotic. The good thing about that is that it doesn't matter if you're watching the male or the female gymnastics because they all basically look the same, all short hair and no tits.

Sports videogames, then, are in an area of eternal disinterest. In my DayZ review I referred to a subset of games I categorize by the heading "Dad games", including things like Arma 2 and Trainz. Basically, Dad games are ultra-realistic games. Not in the Battlefield 3 sense of realism, because for all the realistic physics and bullet drop-off, Battlefield 3 does not depict events that would ever actually take place in the real world as long as the Cosmic Cube never falls into the hands of a conservative gun nut who watches too much 24. I say ultra-realism in the sense of simulating things that actually do happen in the crushing mundanity of real life. Games that exist for the benefit of people who aren't particularly into gaming as a culture but are into whatever it is the ultra-realistic game simulates.

That's why I call them Dad games, because the audience of Trainz is a niche consisting entirely of retired train drivers, conductors and engineers who want to relive the glory days. My dad's a retired train engineer and trains are still the mainstay of his conversation; just that and oppressing the homos. Doubtless when I retire I'll find some appeal in Videogame Journalismz 2058.

But the point I'm lurching towards is that sports games like FIFA 13, while not fitting entirely comfortably under the heading of Dad Games, would definitely share the same table at the cafeteria. They, too, simulate something that actually does go on in the real world for the benefit of people who are into whatever that thing is. Maybe they're also into gaming, that's certainly a reasonable possibility, but people who are into gaming but aren't into football definitely can't enjoy a football game. All of this is evident in the fact that what matters to the buyers of football games isn't innovation or anything in the mechanics, but how faithfully the game reproduces football as it exists in the real world. That's why the developers can get away with putting out essentially the same game every year because they need to keep the teams and uniforms in line with reality.

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