Tag Archives: FIFA

/Scraps: Soccer as Street Fighter

I wrote this several years ago as a scattershot attempt to address some of the questions that would later be used as the basis for an interview with Aaron McHardy, lead FIFA designer at EA Canada, published by Paste Magazine last month.

It’s unfocused and weird, but I figured I may as well share.

I mained Sakura for a while in Super Street Fighter IV. Underpowered, but so fun and fluid.

Sakura

Sports games occupy a strange and troubled position the games industry’s caste system. They’re generally reviled by the self-identified hardcore, despite selling well and representing one of the few examples of traditional games left in the industry. Games demand multiple players following the same sets of rules, a test that, say, Call of Duty’s single-player campaign fails.

Real-time strategy  and fighting games pass this test as well as sports games do, but series like Madden and FIFA are the most visible and well-marketed example of traditional gaming.

It’s also worth noting that the nascent mixed-martial arts genre—no doubt standing on the back of the professional wrestling games that blossomed during the mid-1990s—effectively blurs the line between the fighting and sports genres. This seems pretty obvious.

A subtler observation: sports games can act as fulcrum of design a whole.

Here, I defer to Margaret Robertson, who prompted my line of thinking almost three years ago:

Here’s a game design conundrum for you: what do Halo and football have in common? . . .

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/Scraps: FC Barcelona

This is the introduction of an essay I wrote that would later become the piece published in Paste Magazine last month (which I’m quite proud of, by the way). It’s more or less a festschrift on the Pep Guardiola era of FC Barcelona.

While I was pitching the piece to editors, this section was called “artsy faff” that is “largely meaningless to anyone not intimately familiar with soccer, but is also so flowery that it becomes nearly impenetrable.” That’s actually useful criticism, but I like to use every part of the hog, even the parts left on the cutting room floor. I blame Brian Phillips.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Sportswriter Sid Lowe once asked Catalan midfielder Xavi Hernandez,  who plays for Spain and F.C. Barcelona, how he deals with defenders. Xavi replied:

Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. [Xavi starts gesturing as if he is looking around, swinging his head]. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation.

Xavi’s response seems obvious: passing the ball is fundamental to soccer. But it’s also the teleological apex for Xavi, the Barcelona team he captains, and the recently-ascendant tiki-taka style he champions. That’s what I do, he says — not only now, but always.

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