Football Manager (nee Championship Manager pre-split) has been a staple diet of my gaming life since a young age. I graduated from watching my brother play Champ Man ’92 on the Amiga to actually playing it myself – shocking, I know. Soon enough I was the maestro of the 1-4-5 formation, winning games 12-0 and signing as many regenerated players as I possibly could. As well as Des Walker.
But it wasn’t until Champ Man 2 that I realised this game was training me for bigger, better things. It helped me learn basic budgeting, which countries were in the EU and probably some other things I can’t think of. It also helped me to see that winning was fun, and losing to an arbitrary set of numbers and words on a screen could be more infuriating than you could ever imagine.
Champ Man 3 taught me that a game could be ruined by making it far too hard, but the ‘01/’02 update showed me that this could be remedied and indeed turned into one of the best games of the series. It could also introduce the world to Radoslaw Kaluzny.
Champ Man 4 taught me that I needed a new PC, and I actually missed the entire run of the CM4 series.
Then it became Football Manager, and the world became a far better place. Why? I don’t really know. It just did. This whole series has likely eaten up thousands of hours of my time – maybe tens of thousands. It’s made me break one laptop (and many other minor things) and generally be a ridiculous, reactionary prick towards it. But it’s given me something so many other games have been incapable of: a genuine sense of achievement. Promotion, winning cups, screwing Liverpool out of their best players – it has it all.
Anyway, back to the glorified spreadsheet it is.