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Sports games!

Sam P

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I was playing a frustrating round of (real) tennis yesterday, where my opponent was being an ass in a non-competitive game. All he would do is muster up as hard and as fast a serve as he could, everytime, and I was not good enough to return his aces. When it was my turn to serve, I did the same thing, and he was pretty helpless as well. It was pathetic. There was hardly any real rallying going on and I left the game pretty sour. If it was a competitive game, I would've understood, but that was casual!


I subsequently hopped home to play some Top Spin and had a better time, which got me thinking along the lines of, "what's more fun? Real sports or sports games?"


I can only comment on those games which I play both virtually and in reality, which are pretty limited. So please add your own!!


Real Tennis vs. Top Spin


Top Spin manages to eliminate many of the frustrations of real tennis, like I described above. Instead of worrying about your own coordination and athletic ability, you get to focus more on strategy. As long as your timing is correct, you will always manage a good hit. No worrying about hitting the sweet spot, no worrying about mustering the strength, just run to the ball and let it fly. Top spins and back spins are also easily accomplished. And killer serves can be had with minimal effort.


Oh, and you never have to run around picking up scattered balls, or apologizing profusely for smacking every other ball into your neighbour's court. ;)


So it really boils down to strategy, once you get the basic button operation fluently (which doesn't take much time, nothing like the time it takes to master real tennis). It's about pressuring your opponent to one side of the court, then catching him at a disadvantage when you smack the ball to the other end. Or lobbing the ball when he is right up volleying against the net.


But for me, I get bored of Top Spin quickly, more quickly than real tennis. The satisfaction of hitting a real nice shot just isn't there (because in Top Spin it takes no effort) and there is hardly a more satisfying sensation than out-finessing your real opponent. They know you got them good. :D


Real golf vs. Links


This one's a little tougher to decide. Because of the manual swing (and especially in Intermediate/ Expert mode) you really have to hit your own shots, insofar as deciding how hard to hit, your tempo, and which club to choose -- much like real golf. Direction control is much easier than real golf, of course, thanks to the aim marker. With Xbox LIVE, you aren't missing much of the social aspects and you eliminate walking from hole to hole.


Not to mention the money issue. Real golf is bloody expensive -- the clubs, the memberships, the fees, the balls at the driving range, etc. The game is free in comparison.


But still, I find that real golf is more satisfying. It takes much longer to learn and can be way more frustrating, but playing a good game lifts my spirits more than a good game of Links.


Real Snowboarding vs. Amped, SSX, etc.


For me, this is no contest. Try as they might (and they are getting good), no game can adequately capture the feeling of real snowboarding. I'm talking about the sensation of speed, the unison of man and board, and the experience of riding a huge, vast mountain covered in snow. No crazy SSX mountain can take my breath away like a real one.


And in technical, simulation terms, it's hard to describe the different snow surfaces in a virtual environment. Games can only describe the differences between an icey slope, a slushy slope, a powdery slope, etc. in terms of how they sound against your board or how your movement changes, but they can't describe the feel and that is what largely defines each of the different conditions. It's in the variances in resistance, in fluidity, and in density. Why is this important to simulate? Because such a huge part of snowboarding/skiing is in the interaction between your board (and by extension, your body) with the snow surface and it's very difficult to capture the G-forces you feel. That's what makes me enjoy it. It's all about the movements of your body against the mountain -- the rhythm, the finesse. And the speed, which can be recreated virtually to some extent, but never with the wind in your face or the taste of the crisp, cold air.


And of course, the satisfaction of bombing down a long, long run without any breaks, and feeling all your muscles protest at the bottom of the hill. I live for that. :)


The benefits of game-boarding? There's the ludicrous tricks, less than a fraction of which I can mimmick in real life. There's the HUGE, HUGE air and HUGE, HUGE cliff drops, which can be very amusing to behold. And there is never a fear of hurting yourself.


In the end, the biggest disadvantage of gaming sports is the lack of physical workout. You just don't get any exercise dancing on a controller, as opposed to running around outside.


Also, don't get me wrong, I'm not riling against virtual sports as a valid medium to experience (partially) the real thing, because alot of them are really very good. Top Spin and Links both manage to capture the essence of their respective activities and that is a remarkable accomplishment.


Perhaps I just find the authenticity of the real sports more alluring. Playing a sport game is kind of like masturbation -- it's not quite the real thing. :green: But we do have busy, real lives, after all, and with work/school and taking family constraints, time constraints, geographic limitations, monetary considerations, etc. into account, sports games are pretty close to the real thing!!


What do you think? I'd love to hear comparisons of all the sports I don't play, like hockey, basketball, etc.

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Certainly I'll back up the snowy mountain thing. Real Skiing is amazing, and its about the way you move over the snow, riding all the little bumps and picking your route down the slope. Computer versions just can't do that, because (a) you don't have the visual, tactile and momentum feedback that really doing it gives you, (B) you aren't constantly balancing the "faster! FASTER! MORE!!!" adrenaline against the "ohshitohshitohshitImgonnacrash!" fear because the latter isn't there, and © real mountains look STUNNING in a way that even watching the real thing on TV doesn't convey.

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you aren't constantly balancing the "faster! FASTER! MORE!!!" adrenaline against the "ohshitohshitohshitImgonnacrash!" fear


Too true!! It's the act of pushing just hard enough that you're at the limits, in that zone were you're about to lose it (but not lost) and staying there as long as you dare.


Downhill mountainbiking is the same experience.

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Real Hockey vs. Video Game Hockey


For me, nothing tops the feeling of skating down the ice, faking one way, then going backhand and knocking the water bottle off the top of the net.


I may get excited about scoring a winning goal when playing ESPN NHL hockey, but I think I can sum it all up with this statement.


Actually physically doing something in a sport blows away the videogame experience regardless of the sport.


The fact that you actually hit the fade away jumper, you actually hit the screaming liner down the right field line, or you knocked the ball stiff and put it within 2 feet of the cup flat out destroy the feeling you get when you press a button or pull a trigger.


Of course, that might be just me.



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Totally agree, there is no feeling like doing it in real life. Some of my best memories are when the stars align themselves just right and you pull off your own highlight reel.

By chance i'm off to play a softball game, damn if putting aluminum to a slow pitched grapefruit sized ball isn't satisfying.

And getting your heart rate above a slow thump has rewards!

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Baseball - Fun in real life unless I'm in the outfield, has the potential to suck if I'm playing with meatheads. Fun in videogames if the game is set up right. All Star Baseball '03 had a damn good balance between pitching and batting and had just enough kick-start in the fielding to get things going for people like me who suck. MVP Baseball '04 has the most brilliant pitching system ever. Winner: VIDEOGAMES


Basketball - Played it in real life for the first time since HIGH SCHOOL a month ago. Goddamn, does that game drain you. And I expended most of my energy trying to block/steal while on defense. ON offense, I played center and waited until someone more adept than me moved in for the kill and I passed it to him and our team came damn close to winning. In videogames I utterly and completely HATED basketball until Sega put out the NBA 2Kx series - then I utterly and completely loved it. WINNER: VIDEOGAMES


Tennis - Played it once in real life in high school and SUCKED. However at Virtua Tennis and Top Spin I do pretty damn good. WINNER: VIDEOGAMES (by a landslide)


Football - In real life I did my best as a receiver. I can't throw a spiral for shit and I can't kick either. In videogames I liked Atari's 2600 version as dumb as it was, and I remember the handheld version with the red LED lights that came out at the same time. Never got into Tecmo bowl or Blitz. Got back into it when Sega but the Dreamcast versions out. WINNER: VIDEOGAMES


Volleyball - Other than Atari's 2600 version there's no volleyball videogame worth my time. DOAXBV is passable but overall Itagaki half assed it. In real life I actually have fun playing volleyball and consider it my favorite sport. WINNER: REAL LIFE


Hockey - LOVE playing it in videogames. Never played it in real life. WINNER: VIDEOGAMES


Soccer - I like EA's soccer games a lot. Never played winning eleven. Had fun playing it in school as well. WINNER: TIE

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-I'll sum it up this way, I love sports video games, but there is only one game that I'd perfer to play the video game version, soccer. Soccer is amazingly boring to me (I'm sorry to our British and other football loving friends here.) Soccer video games on the other hand can be very enjoyable.

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