I'm too old to play games. I need a life. But ...
I've been playing Football Manager since the mid-90s. I finished my dissertation while playing it, which I suppose may explain the quality of the diss. It was called Championship Manager then, and nowadays, in the States, it's called World Wide Soccer Manager. Whatever the name, it is an addictive management simulation that puts you in charge of a soccer club. Considering how long as I've been playing, you'd think I'd be good at it, but the truth is, I suck. I figure that's a sign of the quality of the game: I keep playing even though I'm no good at it.
One kind of game I've never gotten into is the Massively Multiplayer Online Game. I'm not friendly enough to want to hang out online with my fellow geeks. But ...
The folks who created FM have now created Football Manager Live. It takes the basic idea of Football Manager and adapts it to MMOGs. Which means it's the same, but not the same, it's addictive, but in a different way, and you pay as you go instead of just buying the game once. After months of trying, I'm finally into a beta ... the real thing comes out in a few weeks ... and holy shit. No wonder young men spend all their time in front of their monitors playing online games.
I won't bother going into the game's details ... if you know FM, you'll recognize FML, if you don't, you don't care anyway. It's interesting the things they've done to make it work online. To give one example: the schedule. In a normal sports management sim, you play the schedule, one game at a time, in order, just like in "real" life. But in an online game, the trick is to play the games when both teams are online. So you are grouped into leagues that fit your personal schedule ... in my case, I'm in an evening league because when I'm home on the computer during the day, people in Europe are home for the evening. So most of my playing time will come between 10 AM and 4 PM my time. You end up playing games "out of order" (not really true, because there is no order) ... if both owners are online, they can play their scheduled games against each other, with a deadline after which the game's AI will take over. Today, my first day of league play, I got in ten matches, and I'm in first place, but only because other owners haven't played any games yet ... on a per-game basis, I'm in fifth place out of twenty.
So far, the most interesting thing is that I get to be the Stereotypical American. Everyone makes fun of me for not knowing anything about "football" (usually in jest, although one guy basically said we were all stupid because I use the "Time Out" button to pause and look things over). In my 20-team league, I am the only American ... in fact, I'm the only non-European. Again, this is probably because I can play during the day, when Robin is at work, and my day is Europe's night.
Once paper grading begins again, I'll struggle to find time for this, but right now, it's fun. I even had a match against a fan of Norwich City who wanted to know how Darren Huckerby was doing in San Jose. I guess it doesn't totally suck being an American, after all.