FIFA addiction: a writer’s tale

Image: These Football Times
Image: These Football Times

The release of the newest annual addition to the FIFA series, FIFA 19, has brought up a question among gamers. That question is: ‘Why do we still buy this game?’. The game has a large base of fans who, broadly speaking, all have a love-hate relationship with the EA title. It can be wonderfully fun to play or utterly infuriating for a whole host of different reasons, even leading to the aptly named ‘FIFA rage’ term which is widespread among social media and forums alike. This love-hate relationship is a difficult one to escape, even taking its relatively poor quality in comparison to other games into account. However, against all the odds: I have been set free.

During my time back home from University over the festive period, I have been engaging in the delight that is Red Dead Redemption 2 (Red Dead). FIFA 19 and Red Dead are of course worlds apart in the gaming galaxy and thus comparing them is not an overly useful enterprise. They are entirely different games, but I’m going to do it anyway. The frustration FIFA causes when it defies physics and openly works against you in your bid to win makes it hard to enjoy. Red Dead gives you no such dilemma. It is incredibly rich in story, and the gameplay works so well to make the experience hugely satisfying 99% of the time. The only frustration is with yourself when you accidentally ride your horse off a cliff or decide to stand and fight against countless bounty hunters who ambush you on the road. Both these scenarios, by the way, usually end in death. The comparison I have laid out exists for a reason: despite Red Dead’s brilliance, FIFA still caught my eye and always tempted me like a tub of ‘Celebrations’ would over the Christmas period. You don’t want another, but they still lie there tempting and tormenting you.

Like I have said, I resisted such an urge, and I feel proud of myself for doing so, much like a quitting smoker would feel proud for resisting a cigarette. Despite the way I have slandered FIFA, there are reasons for its pull and temptation. When FIFA goes right, it is highly satisfying. It is euphoric when you complete a thirty-pass team move with a composed finish to win the FA Cup, and it makes you want to recreate such experiences in the future. This euphoria is where a lot of the addictiveness of the game lies. Amongst the frustration, it gives you these interspersed moments to keep you playing. It works. Not only this, but FIFA is a simulation of the most popular sport in the world. The fact that you can somewhat recreate the moments of the real footballing world and play with all your favourite players and teams provides a vast amount of the games pull. That can’t be underestimated, and this is a huge reason as to why gamers continue to buy it every year, despite there being very few significant changes or improvements.

I urge more people to take the leap and resist the temptation of FIFA. Broaden your gaming horizons; there are so many engaging and rewarding stories to be told. Besides, if people began to boycott FIFA, it would put the pressure on EA to improve the game and iron out its flaws instead of releasing the same average game year after year for an increased price. A good FIFA game that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out time after time is something that every gamer would benefit from, it has the potential to be incredible. I am not asking for no ‘FIFA rage’ moments, that’s just football, it doesn’t always go your way. Just don’t let FIFA pull you in just because of the title, it has to earn it.

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Chris Haywood

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