Sports Video Game Criticism

A response to Ian Bogost talk in Vienna: http://www.arimba.at/frog/1
Ian,
I had trouble loading some of the video (first few minutes played with some audio issues, then it went black).
I think the fact “Kids who play sports games are more likely to play sports” could be written “Kids who play sports are more likely to play sports video games.” But maybe that’s just my personal experience… You don’t see many people at Georgia Tech playing sports video games (my entire time there never met a single person who played sports games). In fact, has there been a demographic study on Sports video games?
I’ve always been a big FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer player as well as a fan of the NBA 2K and Live series.
I think as Ernest has always stated, the gap between sweat of body to sweat of thumbs in sports games does affect the criticism that can be placed on it’s role as a simulation; however, every real life virtual simulation is like that, and I don’t see Sports as any particular exception.
I also disagree with comments that these Football “manager” games are purely sports themed. These games are (or at least should be) as much psychological as they are “economic”.
Consider the number of NBA players that have gone on to become coaches. Or players that have gone on to manage teams (i.e. Michael Jordan, Danny Ainge). Danny Ainge does not have a business degree, yet he knew the psychology and the basketball sense to make trades in 2007 to earn the Celtics a Championship (and to lead them to the finals the next year)
I did a talk at SIEGE a couple years ago about “scoring” and the unique thing about Sports games is that they generally came before the introduction of video games. Their rules are simple, the scoring values are generally lower and less biased than current video games. Sports games are unique to this property (besides maybe board games). Their “meta” level is so much more mature and developed than the meta levels of “World of Warcraft” or any of the current video games.
Today’s video game critics can find lots to write about on World of Warcraft, Second Life etc, and I think most of it has to do with that fact that the rules were developed before video games. So critics are left to analyze the simulation of the “Meta” verse. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to talk about, but all of the aspects of a Sports simulation are prexisting – we can only criticize if the game presents a narrative similar to that of the real world game, if the players respond and behave like their real world counterpart, etc.
But again, I believe there’s still a lot to talk about in these interpretations. For example, sports games are so number based (i.e Agility, speed, and strength numeric ratings out of 100) when the game itself is more psychological. Players behave and perform differently depending on what goes on off the field (media attention, and scandals). Look at Michael Vick, a video game isn’t programmed to respond to a player being indicted and having to go to prison. It would be nice for Sports games to head in that direction.
Anyway, I know this post is a bit all over the place, but I hope my point got across.

Ian,I had trouble loading some of the video (first few minutes played with some audio issues, then it went black).
I think the fact “Kids who play sports games are more likely to play sports” could be written “Kids who play sports are more likely to play sports video games.” But maybe that’s just my personal experience… You don’t see many people at Georgia Tech playing sports video games (my entire time there never met a single person who played sports games). In fact, has there been a demographic study on Sports video games?
I’ve always been a big FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer player as well as a fan of the NBA 2K and Live series.
I think as Ernest has always stated, the gap between sweat of body to sweat of thumbs in sports games does affect the criticism that can be placed on it’s role as a simulation; however, every real life virtual simulation is like that, and I don’t see Sports as any particular exception.
I also disagree with comments that these Football “manager” games are purely sports themed. These games are (or at least should be) as much psychological as they are “economic”.
Consider the number of NBA players that have gone on to become coaches. Or players that have gone on to manage teams (i.e. Michael Jordan, Danny Ainge). Danny Ainge does not have a business degree, yet he knew the psychology and the basketball sense to make trades in 2007 to earn the Celtics a Championship (and to lead them to the finals the next year)
I did a talk at SIEGE a couple years ago about “scoring” and the unique thing about Sports games is that they generally came before the introduction of video games. Their rules are simple, the scoring values are generally lower and less biased than current video games. Sports games are unique to this property (besides maybe board games). Their “meta” level is so much more mature and developed than the meta levels of “World of Warcraft” or any of the current video games.
Today’s video game critics can find lots to write about on World of Warcraft, Second Life etc, and I think most of it has to do with that fact that the rules were developed before video games. So critics are left to analyze the simulation of the “Meta” verse. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to talk about, but all of the aspects of a Sports simulation are prexisting – we can only criticize if the game presents a narrative similar to that of the real world game, if the players respond and behave like their real world counterpart, etc.
But again, I believe there’s still a lot to talk about in these interpretations. For example, sports games are so number based (i.e Agility, speed, and strength numeric ratings out of 100) when the game itself is more psychological. Players behave and perform differently depending on what goes on off the field (media attention, and scandals). Look at Michael Vick, a video game isn’t programmed to respond to a player being indicted and having to go to prison. It would be nice for Sports games to head in that direction.
Anyway, I know this post is a bit all over the place, but I hope some point got across.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.