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Sep 03

When you think of computer games

Do You SeePost a comment • 2,288 views

When you think of computer games you think of action, violence, kinesis – or perhaps concentration and strategy, or competition and excitement, or accuracy and reward. The reason I enjoy football management games, I realised yesterday, is that they are computer games which aspire to the status not of football itself (which involves all the above) but of fishing. Yesterday I spent a good deal of the afternoon playing LMA Manager 2001. When I loaded the game I was 13th in Division Two. When I put the controller down at the end of the season, 30 games and several hours later, I was 11th. I had achieved almost nothing, even within the game’s parameters, but I felt relaxed and satisfied.

Fishing seems to me a solitary, sedentary, slow activity – with bursts of adrenalin and the occasional triumph, but even without that a way to recharge one’s batteries, to simply switch off and drop into a luxurious limbo of meaningless activity. Football management sims work like that too. They have to, they would be intolerable otherwise, since it’s horribly easy for a mediocre team to find itself with nothing to play or even struggle for halfway through a season, and the choice for the player is either to start all over again or to endure several hours in purgatory. So purgatory must be bearable, even pleasant, or the continued play value is nil. Well designed sims (and LMA Manager is one, despite its lack of depth in comparison to the PC-based Championship Manager series) keep the player busy enough on the surface while letting the gentle rhythms of the computerised season play out.

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