If you’re a faithful reader, you know I’m a big sports fan. Growing up, I spent as much time in a field or on a street playing touch football as I did videogames, and thanks to sports games, each hobby made me better at the other. The two have all but merged anymore, as sports euphemisms and team building affect my professional life, which happens to revolve around videogames. So it really shouldn’t surprise me when I go into hyper-hobby mode every October.
October’s a big sports month, a sports perfect storm. The baseball playoffs are in full swing (go Yanks!), and I have the bad 20-something playoff beard to prove it. The football season (oh, and that bizarre facsimile here in the States, I guess) is well underway, as is the hockey season. And pro basketball is over, so I finally don’t have to read about Greg Oden’s bad knee and Kobe Bryant’s temper tantrums when I’m looking for Eli Manning’s latest offensive collapse. No, that portion of my brain dedicated to stat tracking and backseat managing is firing up an electrical storm, and that current invariably makes its way to my gaming lizard brain. And I can’t stop playing.
Here’s a scene from this past Sunday. The Yankees were facing elimination against the Cleveland Indians. At a point where the Tribe was up 3-1, I figured, hell with it, the Yanks always lose when I’m watching them play, so I went into my room and started playing Team Fortress 2. (But it could’ve been anything, he says under his black hat.) So there I am, blasting away in my bedroom, with the TV turned up to U2-concert volume, so I can hear the play-by-play, just in case the unthinkable happens and the Yanks’ $200 million lineup decides to, you know, hit mediocre pitching.
Lo and behold, not five minutes after I start up a rousing match on the 2fort map, the Yanks have plated a run, and they’ve got men on second and third, with Johnny Damon (Traitor. – RP), their hottest hitter, at the plate. I couldn’t miss this at-bat, especially since I was getting a sneaking suspicion Damon was going to go yard – it just felt like it was time. But there I was, my gaming lizard brain fragging away with wanton abandon. So I did what any junkie chasing two simultaneous highs would do: The stupidest thing possible.
When I died, I’d sprint down the long corridor in my apartment to catch a pitch or two, and then run back to the computer to try and squeeze off a few rounds between pitches. I spent a good five minutes running back and forth, to my dog’s puzzled looks, before Damon finally deposited the ball in the right-field seats to put the Yankees ahead, which happened just in time for me to respawn in TF2, to which I ran back mid-celebration.
Yeah, I’ve got a problem. But it’s October, baby! And this issue, “The Crowd Goes Wild,” is only making it worse. In good ol’ 118, sports and games collide for your pleasure. Herein, we’ve got Jon Schnaars talking RBI Baseball, as well as baseball’s paradoxical revenue numbers. Bill Abner, a newcomer to The Escapist, laments the state of sports games, but thinks he knows where their problems originated. Pat Miller gives us the skinny on mixed martial arts, the oldest game on Earth. Our own Russ Pitts weighs Wii Sports against the real world, with hilarious results. And we’ve gone into our annals to share Kieron Gillen’s story of Sensible Soccer with you, in case you missed it.
I hope you enjoy it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how my TV’s picture-in-picture works.