This may seem strange to measure my life against what amounts to a spreadsheet-based football simulation, but one constant in my life for the last 15 years has been the annual release of this game. Added to this is the fact that the first weekend of release has been passed over to a 48 hour session of tinkering with formations and scouting every single under-18 player I can find. Football Manager, and before that the original Championship Manager has been there tempting me with one more game since my mid-teens. I have FM Addiction.
Along with Sensible Soccer it was my education into the world of football, cementing my love of Italian Football and AC Milan in Championship Manager Italia. With my squad of Franco Baresi and Danielle Massaro I was Fabio Cappello (as it was at the time) leading the Diavollo to European success.
It was the game that took me from 10 library books a week to interfering with my revision at GCSE and A-Level and it took up my time at University. Some games claim to be able to change you life, for me only one has and with very significant impact. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Players such as Niccolo Martini and Juan Cappelli I came to love like children as I nurtured their careers, I have resigned as a manager after a successful Champions League final (before even Mourinho did) and overhauled Juventus’ 29 titles. I have watched as Inter Milan got relegated with a sense of shock and joy, I have taken teams from the conference to world champions. I have never been relegated. I played 4-3-1-2 even when the forums told me to play 4-3-3, I use a trequartista.
Taking a look at Steam shows how much I have played over the years:
- Football Manager 2009 – 530 hours
- Football Manager 2010 – 1,508 hours
- Football Manager 2011 – 895 hours
- Football Manager 2012 – 1,122 hours
- Football Manager 2013 – 686 hours (this is what a baby does)
- Football Manager 2014 – 1,073 hours
I would flick the computer on and open up Football Manager, even if I didn’t actually play it. I would just have it there because it was what I did.
Now I have to choose between living my life and raising a child, or sitting staring at a list of numbers while I search for a left back with pace greater than 15 and able to cross. It shouldn’t be a hard choice, I should resist the FM Addiction.
Yet like all good franchises, it keeps changing ever so slightly year to year to I have to learn and study the nuances to keep being good at it.
It’s a little bit like life in that each year age digit grows by one and you have some incremental feature change. Then when the reviews come out you always find the previous year was ‘better’ and that this year’s changes aren’t as good. When you spend some time with it you learn what you need to do to get by, and without mastering it completely you still do enough. I think I’m still talking about life and not a computer game.
Still, I have spent thousands of hours at playing this game and have forgotten as much as I know now, my brain has a certain capacity for remembering the past so all I can do is make sure that I keep the pertinent points saved. Anything that I have forgotten can be relearned, and if I hadn’t remembered it in the first place it probably wasn’t worth studying.