FIFA: Soccer Sucks, So Why Are You So Good?

Soccer is not my thing…really, its not.  Lets just say that the highlight of my 5 year soccer career (I was a goalie when I was much younger) was saving a would-be goal by the best player in the league by being afraid of the ball, turning around, and saving it with the back of my head.  Being American hasn’t given me a burning desire to follow soccer because no one really cares about soccer here anyway.  Needless to say, I don’t watch soccer, don’t play soccer, and am bored out of my mind whenever its on TV.

So why am I so addicted to FIFA?  I started playing FIFA 2010 at the start of first semester, and it has been a revelation.  For one reason or another, I am intrigued by controlling little animated soccer players march up and down the field.  Seeing this game played prior to actually playing it personally, I knew that it was going to be fast-paced and would lead to some friendly competition with my roommates.  My distaste for soccer stopped me from playing initially, as I spurned the idea of playing a soccer game.  However, once I started, I couldn’t get enough.

So how can this phenomenon be explained?  Perhaps James Paul Gee would explain my enjoyment of playing the game through the notion of a “projective identity”.  But how could this possibly be the case!?  I hate soccer, so it would be inconceivable that I would relate to the players who I was controlling based on the fact that they are soccer players.  Maybe my study abroad experience in Barcelona had something to do with it (I always play as Barcelona, the best team in the game), but it seems as though there must be something else at play.

After sitting through the lectures so far this semester, I have been able to look deeper into my video game experiences and think critically about why I enjoy the games I like playing and what I could potentially learn from playing.  I know that I definitively learned the basic rules of soccer (I was always befuddled by off-sides calls) as well as strategies soccer players can employ in order to get into better position to score.  This game has really driven my interest in learning the rules of soccer and has allowed me to realize the intricacies of the game.  I now enjoy playing FIFA more then any other sport game even though soccer is my least favorite sport.  I attribute this to the fact that most of my friends play FIFA and if I want to play a video game with them that we would all enjoy, that would be the game they would choose.

>Getting destroyed for my first 15 games or so was pretty frustrating, but now I have advanced to the point in the game that I can play with my friends and enjoy the friendly competition.  I still don’t particularly care for soccer, but I know that I learned more about the sport then I ever anticipated.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mvkramer
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 18:15:19

    The division between “real” soccer and video game soccer is fascinating. I would guess that the division between what we like in real life and what we like in game applies to a lot of video games — how many of us want to live in dystopian futures? Or fight zombies all day long? And yet, we love Fallout and Resident Evil.


    • Craig Belpedio
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 11:46:38

      I disagree. The hardest part about the zombie apocalypse would be pretending it’s not the coolest thing EVER.

      ….In all seriousness, I think maybe it lets us do things we normally can’t. I, for example, am one of the least athletic people of all time. I don’t have the stamina to play a game of soccer, so maybe playing these sports games let us act out what we wish we could do.

      (PS: Ask me about my zombie plan!)


  2. DavidBraid
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 20:08:53

    …or FIFA is just a really good game?! i agree with mvkramer, as well as I think humans naturally don’t like to feel like they can’t be good at something. I know personally that whenever I lose, I get frustrated and it makes me try that much harder. additionally, I think about Gee’s learning approach about forming new affirmations.


  3. Alex Rich
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 22:20:40

    I think the reason you like FIFA so much has to do with a couple of things. First and foremost, FIFA is a phenomenal game. The graphics are great, the game play is realistic and they always manage to add something fresh to every version (something a lot of sports games fail to do). Furthermore, I think that the main reason you disliked soccer so much is because, no offense, it doesn’t sound like you were to good at it. The second you started playing FIFA you were almost immediately competitive and eventually got good. Playing on a higher level made you realize how much you liked the sport and eventually led to your FIFA addiction.


  4. jjtseng
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 12:19:14

    Taking the game into context, soccer is already a popular international sport. Which must mean that there are already imbedded motivations which keep people playing. Agency is a really clear point in atheltic sports since so much is dependent on the player’s strength/weakness, how the player affects the team. There is a system of reward for each goal (as well as long term rewards), and there definitely is a challenge. Having real teams and real players is almost like an MMO but without the “O”!

    What playing FIFA as a video game allows everyone to have the “tools” to play with. So naturally, you start out feeling good about playing soccer since your character is a pro, punching buttons doesn’t take as much effort. In the end, it becomes more of a sports strategy game, and almost RPG-like when you consider each team with their unique abilities.

    BTW I love soccer/football.


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