Sports games are popular. Very popular. FIFA, for example, is one of the best-selling games series today, enjoyed by millions of football fans all over the world. The beauty of sports games is they allow you to live out your fantasies. Want to play with Messi & Suarez against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp? You can. Want to be the quarterback who replaces Tom Brady at the New England Patriots? You can. Want to drive a Ferrari F1 car around the streets of Monaco? You can. Sports games are designed to allow you to achieve your dreams in a digital world.
Further, sports games are also excellent for the competitive soul. If you venture into the online world of chaos and shouting, you can test your mettle against all manner of people. Though, being sworn at in every language under the sun is not as enjoyable as you might think. With the daunting prospect of a confrontation over digital games putting people off, you can also test yourself offline against your real friends and family. Unfortunately for us, we’re terrible, culminating in a humiliating defeat to our brother with him playing as Blackpool and us, Barcelona.
There is one other area where Sports games are worth their money, though, and that’s escapism. It’s seldom talked about, but sports games are excellent at offering a form of escapism. Returning home after a difficult day at work or school, being able to slot FIFA or Madden into the PS4 and just playing without any real concentration is ideal.
Yes, all games offer some form of escapism, but many games require attention and concentration, forcing you into their reality, rather than the tranquil space in between. That space is the calm waters as opposed to the rough swells of the virtual or real world. Sports games allow you to occupy that space. When the difficulty is ratcheted down, beating Barcelona with Arsenal can be easy. Throwing the perfect pass for the running back to score the game winning touchdown can be done with minimal concentration. Chucking Lewis Hamilton’s pristine Mercedes around Silverstone can be effortless. That’s the beauty of it. You can have that intense, competitive match or race, or you can simply play without any intensity at all.
Many times we have come home from a hard day, put on our favorite sports game (Project Cars at the moment, for those who are interested) turned the volume off, put on a podcast or YouTube video and lost hours, not really gaining anything, not playing competitively, not particularly paying attention, just playing. It allows us to unwind. Then, if we feel like it, we may play Dark Souls or Persona 5, games that require more input and alertness, or we may well just go to bed. Either way, we have successfully relaxed thanks to a sports game and the experiences they offer.
In today’s society, escapism is hugely important. With what’s going on in the world, being able to switch off, even for just minutes, is invaluable, and the fact that sports games offer that so readily makes them invaluable.
It’s a highly personal thing, and whatever works for you is fine, but sports games can be the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of the world. And we all need an escape from that sometimes.