Sunday Thoughts: Living the Dream

This is the first year I’ve really gotten into FIFA. I’ve talked about this before, but whatever it is they’ve done to passing or movement in FIFA 12 means I’m actually capable of playing it. Before now the only way I could play FIFA was by taking part in the “How many players can I get sent off” meta-game, which does tend to annoy anyone you play against; apparently if hitting the slide tackle button over and over is no fun for your opponent.

What I’ve really got into though is playing the career mode, something I haven’t even really tried for years. I’m currently the manager of my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion, and whilst we may have gone out of the FA Cup to Everton we did manage to grab the League Cup.

[drop]I never thought I’d enjoy playing through the FIFA career this much, but I find myself loading it up for a quick match or two whenever I’ve got a bit of spare time. I don’t think I’ve ever had a game that I’ve played with this kind of regularity before, and I wondered what has caused my change in attitude.

Last night the answer hit me and it’s blindingly obvious. I’m living the dream, quite literally. I will never get to manage the Albion, I doubt I’d even get to manage the team for my local pub. It’s not even that managing Brighton is really a dream of mine, but seeing them achieve the kind of success they have in my game of FIFA really is (although the way our season is going this year feels like a bit of a dream anyway).

See, a lot of the stuff I do in other games isn’t really a dream, or at least it’s not a very specific one. We talk about how games let us get away with stuff we never could in the real world, how they let us fulfil our fantasies. Do they really though?

I absolutely adore Halo, I think it’s got solid enjoyable gameplay set in a world that’s had a lot of detail poured into it in a variety of mediums. Is going out and shooting aliens really a dream of mine though? It’s certainly fun and entertaining for a few hours, but it’s not a long held fantasy of mine when I really think of it.

I mean why would I have a huge desire to go out and blast aliens? More importantly, why would I want to give the aliens a chance to blast me? Sure, if they were actually a threat maybe I’d try and defend myself and my species (or be conscripted into defending it), but it’s not something that I really fantasise about.

Of course, it’s probably just an extension of the generic hero fantasy; who wouldn’t want to be lauded for saving the day? If you could receive praise for being humanity’s saviour wouldn’t you want it? There are probably some downsides that come with it, but I can certainly see the appeal.

[drop2]The driving force behind Grand Theft Auto I can understand a little bit more; there’s always that little tug somewhere deep down in your brain that’s trying to goad you on, trying to convince you that you could steal that car and get away with it. It’s not something you can act on in the real world, well not if you don’t like seeing what a prison looks like from the inside, but the impulse is there to some extent.

Even if you don’t fantasise about quite the level of chaos that seems to occur in Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, I suspect almost everyone has had a desire to cause some kind of mischief.

I suppose it depends on the kind of dream you want to live out. For me seeing Brighton win the League Cup or get promoted to the Premier League is a pretty specific one, one that’s probably shared by less than forty thousand other people. Certainly, there will be similar people who dream of seeing their team being successful, but there are plenty more who couldn’t care less about the fate of any football team in the real world, let alone a virtual one.

No, whilst they might not be as compelling or personal, broad dreams and fantasies seem to be where to pitch things. That’s probably why we have hundreds of stories in all mediums about people falling in love “against the odds”, or about the big manly hero saving the day. They may be clichéd, impersonal dreams but they’re dreams that, at some level, are shared by huge swathes of people.

For me though it’s the personal dreams that count, they’re the ones you can really sink your teeth into. Now if you’ll excuse me, promotion to the Premier League is beckoning.

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10 Comments

  1. It’s strange but I never think like this. Ever! I play the games because I enjoy them and nothing else. I feel like I’m as invested as can be but I’ve never really played a game based on “it’s a dream of mine to one day {insert awesomeness here}”. It’s a wonderful hobby but nothing more than that. My dreams are to live a life of happiness so I’m far more intent to shape that. Not my gaming world.

    • great article

      I either play games to kill a bit of time, because there’s not much else to do or because I like playing the game.

      I suppose GT3 A-Spec was the closest I’ve come to thinking like the article, but even then shaving hundredths off my time was all that mattered as opposed to doing something in a game I couldn’t do in real life.

  2. This is a really great article Kris! :) I have never thought about gaming in that way before. I never like FIFA as I try to make it at realistic as possible and end up winning everything (even on hardest difficulty) so it doesn’t feel like Ive achieved anything or achieved the dream of Cheltenham town (always go this team of FIFA) getting promoted or winning something.
    In other games such as Uncharted, my dream is to be like that so naturally I love the game. Same goes for F1, but that is mostly a shared dream held by everyone to become an F1 driver and win the world championship (which I won last night with Force India)

    • I’m trying to keep my FIFA realistic too, although I only play on semi-pro at the moment (I feel I’ll get destroyed on Pro). The only outlandish purchase I’ve brought is Michael Owen, but he was going for a low 2.5 million which is within Brighton’s reach (just).

      • I suppose so with the singing :P I usually push it up towards world class or even legendary but I do admit I get hammered occasionally. Im yet to buy FIFA 12, Im sticking with 11 for the time being.

      • *signing

  3. Footy manager games: the dream!

    • Harvest Moon – The dream! But only if real life was as cutesy as the game. :D

  4. Great article, I wouldn’t say that I play any games “to live the dream”, but I have to say with the in-car camera on Dirt or Grid my mind does sometimes wonder.. what if?

  5. Interesting and I can’t say it’s something that’s occurred to me before now. I think games that make you successful rather than just winning would be closer to living the dream than others.

    One game that pops into my mind as I write this is Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Not that being a transportation mogul is my dream, far from it but “winning” in that game is defined by how successful you are, the business empire you build and the financial riches you achieve. All things which can quite easily be applied to “living the dream” in real life.

    As you mention war themed games on the other hand, you’re right, I never consider living the dream to be about blowing up “bad guys” though for some that may be relevant, hopefully not the killing but the element of victory within, saving the world, that type of thing.

    Interesting thoughts though on the whole, for me, playing video games is absolutely as simple as a little bit of escapism, entertainment but most of all just plain old relaxation.

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