(buys suit for important cup matches)
It’s a well-known fact, amongst typically young men of a certain age, that the video game Football Manager is the single-most addictive, life-ruining and time-swallowingly brilliant piece of interactive artistry on the planet – contributing to 35 divorce cases and being the feature of a book with a similar title to this very post – and, with this year’s edition being released in a mere four days, my life threatens to be thrown off the rails once more.
I had many time-consuming hobbies over Summer (none of them particularly mentally engaging) but since moving to uni, I’ve been able to tone down or eliminate them entirely: I’ve stopped ploughing ahead with my Titans save on Madden 15, I’m only watching one episode of Naruto a week rather than ten a morning, and I’m whole months behind on Stephen Georg’s daily vlogs, so I know I’m capable of shelving these hobbies and addictions for more enjoyable and challenging things, like my degree. But FM is in a whole different league.
In the past three years, I’ve put 1,300 hours into that game, 433 hours a year, 36 hours a month, and about 70 minutes a day, every day, for 1,095 days; I’ve spent more time on that game than I have on this blog, and friends have already told me this blog takes up too much time. The problem, or genius, of FM is that it can’t be played well if played casually; while you can win a load of games against the AI on FIFA or Madden by running the same plays and mastering the same moves, the fact that FM is basically a strategy game, with the sports element as the superficial coating on top, rather than a sports game with strategy bits chucked in for the Hell of it, means that it’s very mentally engaging, and often difficult, to play. The cliche that FM players have notebooks full of tactics and scouting lists is true, and isn’t indicative of a loser taking the game too seriously, but is the bread and butter you need to do anything more with the game than totally suck.
And I’m already doing a number of full-on activities as it stands – gigs, blogs, novels, articles, sports tournaments and my frakking degree all require quite a bit of time and effort – and so there’s going to be an inevitable standoff between the rewarding addictiveness of FM, and the rewarding addictiveness of everything else I’m doing. And yes, it is intentional that I’m comparing playing FM to literally everything else I do, because that game is worth the time and effort of ten other full-time projects.
The only viable solution so far is to buy the game at Christmas, rather than on release; as with all uni students, I have a painfully long Christmas holiday, that basically covers the whole of December. My reasoning is that if I can hold off buying it for another month, I’ll be free to spend most of the Christmas break playing FM – as I’m learning this week, a solid week of work is enough to prepare oneself for the upcoming half-term, so I could potentially play FM for three weeks, work for one, and not lose too many brain cells / friends.
But delaying that purchase is going to be a challenge, especially with the fact that buying stuff on Steam is easier than remembering to do laundry regularly, and the fact that OH MY GOD THERE’S A NEW FOOTBALL MANAGER.
So if I drop out of UCL and become a reclusive wreck (again), you’ve got a good idea why.