I've written previously about how certain things can make you feel old. Another example happened over the weekend, with Football Manager 2013 being released. Why should the release of a computer game (or, “silly computer game” if you're that way inclined) make me check the mirror repeatedly for grey hairs and wrinkles? Well, it made me realise that it is now 20 years since I first played an iteration of the series - Championship Manager 93.
|I still wonder how he came by those webbed fingers on his left hand|
Back in those days we didn't have a powerful enough computer at home to run the game (I think our home computer was still coal-fired), so I had to play at a friend's house. I will always remember the agonies we went through in deciding whether to sign Alessandro Melli (real-life international caps: 2) for our all-conquering Sheffield Wednesday side, and how he would link up with the midfield powerhouses of Chris Bart-Williams (real-life international caps: 0) and Jamie Pollock (real-life international caps: 0).
From CM93 I progressed to CM2, and still remember during school exams spending vital “essay planning time” sketching out formations or areas of my team's squad I needed to improve. With the addition of the new-fangled internet, time was also spent waiting for lists of recommended players to load over old 28.8k modems. The internet / intranet also later enabled online play, resulting in an epic network game at uni on CM 2000/01 which rivalled the intensity of 4 player PES matches. Winning Serie A with Pistoiese from under the noses of a Roma side managed by one of my mates still gets brought up in conversation even to this day. Thank you, Hashimu Garba.
|Other healthy pursuits were also followed at uni, of course|
I'm pretty sure everyone who has played versions of CM or FM will have similar memories that they won't forget, so it's no real surprise that earlier this year a book was released that compiled many such stories from around the world. Thankfully, my own personal experiences never quite progressed to donning a suit for a Cup Final, or shaking hands with a doorknob pretending it was a senior official from the FA. But we've all conducted our own post-match interviews, right? RIGHT?!
And so to the present. FM 2013 has continued along the path laid down by its recent predecessors, becoming more detailed and complex than ever before (although I would question whether a game that tells you “A player with a high corner taking attribute would be a good choice to take your corners” could actually be called complex). For example, the new game includes details of countries' income tax laws that affect players' take-home salaries. Yeah, you read that right, tax law is now in FM. Exciting. This level of detail seems worlds away from the earlier games in which you could blast through a season in about a day. Speaking of those earlier games, several (in particular CM93, CM 97/98 and CM 01/02) are available for free download if you know where to look. But if you fancy a trip down memory lane, be warned – do not start your journey if you have any impending work, family or medical deadlines approaching.
|Or if your computer can't handle the 16MB version|
I shudder to think how many hours I've spent playing the CM and FM games over time, or, even worse, what I could have accomplished instead using that time. Still, who needs to be able to speak Mandarin or paint when the good people of Sunderland have built a statue of you to commemorate your managerial achievements?