I was just thinking last night about sports video games and their actual purpose, what is the end goal? EA had just announced that Eden Hazard would be on the cover of FIFA 15 in the UK. “[I]t’s the most realistic football game I have seen,” he had said via a press release. But what does that mean for a sports game, to be ‘realistic’?
I used to think it meant simulating the experience of being a talented athlete, being able to replicate what the best players in the world do every time they step out on the pitch/field/rink/ring/whatever. I think I was mistaken. More and more I’m starting to realise that sports games are really about mimicking sport as a spectator experience made interactive. In short: sports games are more about mimicking the act of watching sport on television than mimicking the sport itself.
Think about it: the camera angles, the instant replays — controlling a player from a bird’s eye view (or a camera-style view) bears very little resemblance to the act of playing sports in real life. It looks, feels and plays more like a television broadcast made interactive. Certain details of the sport are replicated accurately — the movement of the ball, the way the sport is played — but that’s done in the name of accurately representing a sport being represented in a televisual sense, it’s not about making the game feel ‘real’, it’s about making us feel like we’re watching and impacting a game in progress.
Nowhere is this represented more accurately than in the new NBA 2K15 trailer.
This is a trailer that actually begins in a television studio. I mean how obvious does the connection have to be? It just hammered home to me how intertwined the two are: sports games and their representation on TV. As technology improves we’re seeing more of the sport, from different angles. As an experience watching sport is more interactive than ever. Sports games have borrowed from this, they’ve borrowed presentation aspects, but TV has also borrowed from games in return. It’s a weird back and forth process that continues to this day.
NBA 2K15’s trailer, like a live, televised sporting event, begins and ends in the studio. Sort of like sports games themselves I suppose.