Playing the media game – the implementation of tabloid news in videogames

Steve Conway (University of Bedfordshire, UK)

‘The Latest Gossip’, ‘Transfer Rumours’, ‘Our Man In The Know’: so read the titles of various columns in both newspapers and websites concerning the day-to-day trials and tribulations of football players, staff and clubs. Often the content within is belittled as hearsay, idle chatter or complete fabrication. Managers are said to be playing mind games with their competition or ‘tapping up’ the player of another team. Reports of footballers demanding transfers to another team, being unhappy with their wages, or disliking their manager or team-mates are regularly dismissed by the club in question as fictitious nonsense. Yet the back pages have become so significant to the world of football that a news feature is increasingly becoming a standard facet of sports videogames. Playing the media game is an intrinsic aspect of the best-selling Football Manager series, presenting the media as the only means of communication between the gamer (as manager) and his own team, alongside other teams and managers. To be a successful manager within the world of the sport videogame requires a deft handling of the media as tool of manipulation. Expressing your admiration for a rival team’s player, articulating your low opinion of another manager, extolling the virtues of your star squad member, all are available and often necessary for the user to win the game. Similarly, reports of player unrest, boardroom dissatisfaction, and fan outrage must be attended to swiftly if the gamer is to be kept in their job. This paper considers the implementation of tabloid news within sports videogames, as a nexus of communication for the professional industry, as a strategic instrument for the sagacious user, and as an alarm system for the inattentive.

Timing - Saturday - Panel Session H1
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