The Artifact Itself

FIFA, or the International Federation of Association Football, is a video game by EA Sports, or Electronic Arts Sports, based off the competitive world of soccer. The game allows users to control teams and individual players and compete against one another in a high paced and exciting soccer match. Users can choose any division —  from more commonly known divisions, such as Premier League, to lesser known divisions, such as Liga MX. Users can also play as individual countries, for example, Spain vs USA or Germany vs. Argentina.

The most impressive aspect about FIFA is its up-to-date records on player rankings and stats. For each individual player and team, FIFA ranks them and gives them a score. Each player gets a ranking out of 100 and is organized into categories such as pace, dribbling, shooting, defending, passing and physicality. The higher the ranking, the better the individual is at that category. Players are not only ranked in these categories but they are also ranked overall as players. Teams are ranked similarly, except that they are ranked out of five stars. The more stars a team has the higher they are ranked. Teams are also organized and ranked in categories, such as attacking, defense and midfield.

FIFA is sold worldwide and users compete in tournaments all around the world. This simple, yet competitive, style of FIFA attracts all ages. In fact, according to EA Sports, FIFA 17 was “the best selling console title in the world” in 2016. In one quarter, FIFA 17 generated over 1 billion dollars in operating cash flow.Not only has the game incited interest in the professional sports scene, but it has also generated interest among the public, becoming one of the most popular and played video games of all time. In the 2016 article, “FIFA: the video game that changed football,” Simon Parkin writes that on any given Sunday, over 200 million games are played worldwide.

Similarly, in the article, “The Forgotten Kaleidoscope Craze in Victorian England,” by Jason Farman, Farman talks about the viral attraction of the kaleidoscope. Just like the kaleidoscope, FIFA producers and makers had no idea their product would be such a hit. In fact, they predicted children would be their main audience, however, that was not the case. In the article “Who are Sports Gamers? A Large Scale Study of Sports Video Game Players written by Abraham Stein and Konstantin Mitgutsch, the two concluded that, in their research at MIT,  a whopping 83% of players are between the ages of 18 and 31.

Another aspect of this game is Real Player Motion Technology, which was introduced in the last two years. By helping the players within the game have more human motion and similarity, this technology truly accelerated the FIFA franchise. EA accomplished this by applying sensors onto professional soccer players, who would go and perform both basic and advanced soccer skills. This captured real human movement, and upgraded conventional computer simulations.

The ability to control players with very realistic features and skills in FIFA reminded me of the book Neuromancer by William Gibson. In this dark, futuristic book, one sees how characters can enter the matrix and “go inside” other people using a technology called SimStim. SimStim is similar to modern day’s Virtual Reality. However, not only can one know what the other person is thinking, but they can also feel what they feel and think what they think. They know everything that is going on with that person. This technology, while a little far-fetched, reminded me of Real Player Motion Technology. Real Player Motion Technology is all about becoming more humanistic and relatable. Although in modern day technology, FIFA is far from the SimStim technology, it would not surprise me if, one day,  this technology was applied, and we were able to feel and see what professional soccer players feel and see when on the pitch.