Tag Archives: soccer

/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.


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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/Ring a dol dillo: an addendum

My mini-essay on Pelé as Tom Bombadil boils down to a semantic discussion of Tolkien’s eucatastrophe — a sudden, piercing moment of joy and rightness — in relief of the more widely known deus ex machina.

I’m not sure that I ever came to any conclusions, but I’d be willing to place Brian Phillips — whose writing germinated, after a fashion, my entire line of thinking in the first place — in the eucatastrophic camp:

Pelé strikes me as a comedy, or better, as a comedian: not as a stand-up comic or a satirist, but as the opposite of a tragedian, the author of the kind of classical comedy that always ends with a wedding, the kind that revels in turning the order of things upside down so that it can give you the giddy satisfaction of seeing them turned right-side up again. This kind of comedy is in the business of reconciliation: The king turns out to be wise, the lovers love each other, and the villains reveal themselves to be failures, however things look for a while. When Titania is in the forest with Bottom, everything is wonderfully backwards: the queen of the ideal is enslaved to clumsiest physicality. Then Puck flies through, Pelé scores his goal, and all the faculties go back to their right places.

Pelé as a Comedian

/Ring a dol dillo: Pelé as Tom Bombadil

Pelé! Pelé!

Over on Brian Phillips’ blog, Run of Play, Supriya Nair contributed an essay titled “Stepchild of Time,” positing the thesis that “Maybe Pelé is blessed with the fate of all origin myths, to be simultaneously ubiquitous and unrecognisable. Because he is the figurehead of a certain view of football. … He stands at the fount of all our conceptions of football heroism; perhaps only a stepchild of time can do that.”

While all of the essays during Pelé Week have been supremely interesting — as is Run of Play generally — this one struck a particular note with me, not least because Nair manages to compare Pelé to Tom Bombadil (of all things).

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