One of the joys, and horrors, of Steam, is the way it so neatly provides you with a playing time counter for each game in your Steam Library. Joys as you realise how much entertainment you have reaped for your £40. Horrors as you realise how much time you have lost after spending that £40. I’ve just flicked through all of the titles I could find in one particular series on Steam, and found that I have played 817 hours of this series. That works out at a smidge over a month at 34 days. 34 days of my life have been spent playing this one gaming series since 2010.
What game is it? Well, it is of course, Football Manager. My time with the series over the decade of The Reticule is probably greater than that, the earlier games weren’t released on Steam, a shock to some I’m sure. Steam wasn’t always the home for every PC game under the sun, it was once a very tightly curated shop, only allowing in the select few. Rag Doll Kung Fu included. Indeed, to chart my entire association with Sports Interactive’s monster would require me to go back to 1999 and Championship Manager 3. Oh how I loved that game….
Football Manager isn’t the only game that I have invested hundreds of hours in. My recorded time Battlefield 2 tops 500 hours, that’s without the numerous other hours that weren’t recorded during matches with the -=256=- clan, but over the last decade, it is undoubtedly my most played series of games.
What you will notice later in our 10th Birthday series, is that I haven’t included any of the Football Manager games in our Games of the Decade piece. Why is that? It’s probably as my Verdicts for the games haven’t been consistent in their own right, let alone when compared against the time I have spent with them. Fig. 1 shows that I’ve failed to deliver a Verdict on three entries in the series since 2010. The scores of the editions that I have felt I could deliver a Verdict on are generally in the Headshot range with 2013 receiving a Red Mist, and 2015 only getting an On Target.
For the 2016 edition of the game, I was in a searingly cynical mood, and didn’t feel I could do the game justice with a review. For numerous non-game related reasons, I only touched 2018 for 54 minutes according to Steam, which wasn’t long enough to write about why I wasn’t reviewing it. As such, we’ll see no more of 2018 in this article.
What is interesting, is the comparison between the Verdicts I delivered, and the time I spent with them. There are many factors of course which go into determining how much time one spends with a game, but what strikes me is that I clearly loved the 2013 edition of the game. It received a hallowed Red Mist, engaged me for over 50 hours, with an additional 9 hours invested in the Editor for the game. My time with the Editor led to my attempt at making a Game of Thrones league, which, when looking back, I wish I had finished. But clearly 2014 came along, and took over my life.
Most of recent years in the Football Manager games has seen me siloing myself off in the Welsh Premier League. Occasionally, as with my shortlived 2016 experience, I have played re-branded a club as my boyhood Lisvane Panthers, but generally my time has been spent with The New Saints, or since their promotion to the Welsh top flight, Cardiff Met Uni. My adventures normally see me play around in the editor to bring club attendances in line with the real world, make Cardiff Met a professional club (being stuck as an amateur team isn’t any fun), and generally try to take the team towards European glory.
As the Football Manager series has so clearly been a big part of my gaming life, from when I was youngster all the way through this past decade of The Reticule, I felt I had to do it justice with some words, and some fancy graphs. I’ll be getting stuck into the new version of the game, hopefully on the Switch, but I know what is required to really get stuck into the PC version of the game once more. A second monitor, so I can watch Netflix and browse the web on one screen, with Football Manager on the other. Splitting the game and Netflix in half across a monitor isn’t ideal, scree real estate is precious.
(For the purposes of these graphs, a 0 is a non-review, 1 is a Crotch Shot, 2 is Off Target, 3 On Target, 4 Headshot and 5 for Red Mist)