|If this picture is 'Greek' to you, I both envy and pity you at the same time.|
When blogs die, to they go to digital heaven?
Perhaps the only way to answer such a question would be with a series of 1s and 0s. It's likely not important anyway. Or maybe that was the title of recently discovered Philip K. Dick short story. I'm not entirely sure.
Either way, it's always sad when you run a Google search and stumble onto an old Blogger page that hasn't been updated since June of 2007. Somebody was taking the time to update their little piece of the Internet and then, presto, just ... stop.
Maybe it's a simple answer: people got tired of Blogger and found better self-publishing platforms.
Me, I'm too content and or lazy to switch from the way things have been for such a long time -- hence the outdated template, commenting system and continued presence of that relic from 2005, a "blogroll." This blog isn't the only part of my life unstuck in time. Hell, if I could wear that same outfit everyday, unchanged, like a cartoon character I'd do it. Call it familiarity, we're only human even as things change ever so more rapidly in our digital world. Eventually you reach a point where it's too damn hard to keep up with everything, which is the natural course of things and you find yourself laughing at "King of Queens" reruns you're watching for the first time at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Wait what in the world is going on here?
So yes, that my typical long-winded explanation as to why without a update in this little slice of the Internet in a noticeable amount of time, I felled compelled to try to write something to update it before the digital tumbleweeds start blowing past said aforementioned blogroll.
All that I can think about writing about is something about the experience of playing "FIFA 13."
It seems, like the "Madden NFL" series a few years ago, FIFA(*) hit (buzzword alert) critical mass this year. If you're what I'm going to label an "ESPNAMERICAN," which chances are you are if you're reading this site, then the last couple weeks you couldn't avoid the deluge of advertising for FIFA with Snoop Lion and the kid Andrew Luck playing the game. Or maybe you saw the spot with some everyman, well, "everyteen" walking into a hip underground club to face off against Lionel Messi himself.
(*) Hereafter I'm just calling it FIFA since that's all anyone that plays it calls it. Nobody says, "Hello friend, by chance would you like to verse me in a game of FIFA 13 for the XBox 360?"
As said before no single thing has helped indoctrinate the sport of soccer into the consciousness of an entire wave of Americans quite like the game FIFA. Laugh all you like, but it's been a huge factor in recognition and awareness of the sport. People may hate or be indifferent to the world's game, but they sure love to play themselves some FIFA. Only the increase of games on television comes close, and in part, that has to be a direct correlation with people playing the game.
Apparently the blitz helped since FIFA sold something like 2.5 million units in its first week. I'm one of them. Probably the best $60 I could spend on entertain this year in terms of usage. Mete it out, that's what, three or so trips to the movie theater? Maybe a single ticket to a concert or sporting event? A round of golf with a cart at a nice course? About 3/4 of a tank of gas?
It's a scary thought how many man-hours will be consumed by that one, glorious disc.
Long story short, either you're hooked by the FIFA bug or you're not. At it's core, it's damn fun to play especially when you can whip up on some anonymous opponent with a gamertag like Xxitz112K1ll3rxxX. If you're the person who only plays exclusively as Manchester City, Barcelona or Real Madrid or....ugh....Chelsea, you're somewhat of douche. But hey, I'm probably a douche, too.
EA deserves massive praise for the game code in this year's version. While it's almost always going to be "too arcade-y" for a lot of hardcore soccer people, the balance is right. The computer AI isn't as robotic, always staying in the same spot like it's locked into a foosball table, instead it'll make intelligent runs for your team so you have actual passing options. Ricochets and weird deflections happen. Perhaps the best thing is your guys will actually run toward a rebound by the opposing goalie unlike last year's game when scoring tap-ins were nearly impossible. All-in-all, when people ask in a derisive manner, isn't it the same game every year?, you can tell them the changes in this year's game are noticeable and all for the better.
The craziest part of FIFA this season is the sheer amount of gamemodes available. Online play, career mode, friendlies, virtual pro and the beast known as Ultimate Team. Pull up the menu, and even me -- a lifelong gamer -- is almost overwhelmed by the array of choices.
Ultimate Team, or "FUT" will probably never illicit the lyrical, gushing praise that many have heaped on management sim "Championship/Football Manager," it's far too gauche since you're locked into one formation with any given team which makes it slightly less fascinating some a tactical standpoint.
Oh right, you probably have zero idea what "Ultimate Team" is. The quickest explanation -- and this is massively, pathetically nerdy -- you get cards of real-life players (tiered, bronze, silver and gold by quality) and try to build teams. There are guidelines via formation and there's also chemistry by players of the same league or nationality. There's an auction element to the cards with the artificial FUT market setting the value. In truth, it's one of those thing you just have to try out as trying to explain it probably makes it sound more trouble than it's worth, which could be true.
Either you love it or it's the stupidest thing ever.
Let me tell you though, there's nothing quite like the rush you get for winning Graham Zusi in a bid for about 2,000 virtual coins less than the going rate to find the perfect attacking midfielder for you're silver-card American 3-5-2 formation team.
Yes, among my first card purchases (at this point almost every word could be listed in quotation marks) was Fabian Johnson, whom I play at left midfield despite his left back status. Part of this is because he wasn't part of the game last season, ditto for Danny Williams, Mix Diskerud and Josh Gatt. (Right about here is where I'm seriously thinking of scrapping the proceeding paragraphs. God I am pathetic.)
For whatever the reason, it's a lot of fun trying to craft different teams for the various tournaments they run based on a set of parameters. Or not even for specific tournaments, just to find a fun mix that can win some games. The auction/buying and selling element add another layer to the addiction onion.
There's a learning curve here and when you get your initial shitty bronze level team, it's hard to build a good team, but the payoff is worth it, especially if you have knowledge of the game of soccer and can find bargains or sneakily good players who belie their "overall" rating on the front of the card. Building a team you make, in a formation you like, with players you value is probably more fun that caving in, picking one of the elite five-star teams and facing off yet again against a jerk on the other end playing as Real Madrid.
It's hard to go any further without mentioning there is an insidious part about Ultimate Team, and probably why EA made it even more prominent in this year's version and that's "microtransactions." You can spend real, U.S. currency to purchase more packs of cards instead of using the game's coins. Five bucks, here and or there, to get a couple packs, what's that, two cups of coffee? Yet I can't fully endorse something that has the potential, if unchecked to suck away a lot of your money for a game. This is likely why EA can ship the game out for $60 and still make a nice profit as the online, digital cash register never stops.
The saving grace on this end is that although you can build your team, manage it, bid for players, etc. via the EA web App, you can't spend real money on it -- only through your console. Otherwise it would be worse than a gambling site or a slot machine, just pumping your money into it. The Web App, of course, is a massive timewaster but in a good way.
Each year it seems more and more there is a grouping of people where FIFA is an enhancement to the actual, living breathing world of soccer. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? If you start thinking everything in the game should translate to the real grass and dirt field, that's a problem and vice versa.
Hey, it's just a game. A fun one at at that.
All this writing got me thinking, is there enough interest out there if I formed an online league (XBox) for people to play it? Would this be a colossal waste of time? Something worthwhile? A chance to use 99 percent of the other teams in the game other than the five-star teams?
Let me know either through a comment, on Twitter, email, whatever, if this is something that would interest you. If there's enough people I'll go ahead and start figuring out people's gamertags and setting it up.
Did I just write all that about a dopey video game?
If you're a person where gaming isn't your thing, no problem. I probably envy you, deep down, in some way. Hope reading this wasn't a colossal waste of your time.
But if you've got the FIFA bug like me, hope to see you in the game.
Bring you're A game.
Oh, you didn't know, all this time I've actually been Snoop.