For those who are wondering what I was up to in the past week or so, I was well, at work, and the rest of my time was spent playing Football Manager.
As the name suggests, one would take on the role of the manager of a football (aka soccer for those of you who use the North American term) club and be in charge of the team’s tactics, training and transfers (i.e., buying and selling players). It is noted for its amount of details (they have volunteers who provide information and stats of thousands of players and clubs around the world), its intensive use of the CPU (this is a game that would truly uses all powers of a quad core processor), and its lack of 3D-graphics (matches are still viewed in the 80’s-style 2D perspective). The last two points aside, it can be as addictive as any first-person shooters, given that you are a football fan, of course.
My history with this game goes way back to my high school days, when the previous incarnation of the game was still named Championship Manager (note that the comtemporary Championship Manager is not made by its original authors/team, as the publishers kept the name with them as the developers and publishers parted ways). Back then, matches were presented in text only (it is kind of like listening to a match on the radio) and processing was horribly slow (at times I have a book in my hand and read while waiting), but I still spent hours after hours on the game. I once led Stoke City to the Premiership title with 70 points (with an edge in goals for over Chelsea), won the Serie A with the likes of Palermo, Napoli, Bologna and Perugia, and took Malaga and Espanyol to La Liga titles and Champions League glory. You see, I like to take on smaller teams and work my way to winning something.
As for my favourite club, Liverpool, I have not played with them very often at all during all these years. The reason being that “managing” Liverpool is a particular frustrating experience, because losses were particularly hard to take because of the additional emotional attachment to the club’s real-world counterparts.
My current save game in Football Manager 2008 is played with Tottenham Hotspurs. Screaming and hollering from me can often be heard whenever the team managed to blow a 2-goal lead (at home, no less), which happens more often that I would have liked. I guess the game can double as a stress reliever. After a week and half (in real time), I have just completed season 3 (in Football Manager time) and took Spurs to a 3rd place finish (Champions League here we come!). However, the club’s finance is poor so I am given very little money to spend on new players (you do not need to buy a house to realize that financing through monthly payments would eventually financially cripple you).
Before I started playing Football Manager again last week, I did not know that I am still very much in love with this game. I guess what attracts me is that the game combines my passion for football with slow-paced gameplay (I don’t think quickly enough to play real-time games). I will probably get tired of my current save game some time next week (me coming on here writing this entry instead of playing is actually the first sign of fatigue). Then, I may abandon the game for a while and hopefully engaging in more meaningful activities (like finishing that short story that I started before I got the game). But surely, I will be back for some more in the future.