The rise of sport simulations on video game consoles started a few decades ago, but the advances that the medium has made since then are quite something to behold. There was a time when whatever sport you enjoyed, playing it on a video game would be somehow unsatisfying. Unless your chosen sport was golf, it was incredibly hard to make players and conditions anywhere close to lifelike. Once you discovered a way to hoodwink the computer player’s defense, you could rack up as many goals, touchdowns or baskets as you liked, and scores would end up unrealistic and a little bit boring.
Video game software houses were no less aware of this than the gamer, and with every new release – for a sports game franchise is nothing without an annual update – they have added to what you can do. It used to be the case that an NFL simulation game had you controlling one player on offense and another on defense, and that was it. Now you can be general manager, head coach and conditioning co-ordinator and much more besides. A little confusing and overwhelming for a first-timer but blissful for the stats junkie.
Of course, there are now consoles which even let you participate more actively. Boxing by means of controllers which you hold while “punching”, tennis which involves you swinging the controller around like a racquet. This – we are told – will make us all fitter, and it is a response to the accusations that games are making us lazy. It seems to be popular, too. But it is not going to mean the death of the armchair sports simulation, for sure.