Pele’s Soccer, Nintendo World Cup, Kick Off 2… A gamer’s first football sim dates them as precisely as rings in a tree stump, and far more accurately than the 20-year spans of the Generation X, Y and Millennial groupings. At a time when technology developed at amazing speed, most games lasted for only one or two years before being eclipsed by the new latest and greatest title — not like the annual re-skinned franchises we get these days.
Just as your grandparents will tell you that music went to shit after the Beatles and the Stones’ heyday, many of today’s mature gamers harbour the strong belief that while modern footy games are more sophisticated in their graphics and more realistic in their gameplay, comparing FIFA 16 to Sensible Soccer is like comparing the Portuguese Ronaldo to Gazza. If you think that is even a debate, you just don’t get football, or you are too young to remember when it had personality.
Don’t despair, callow youths, for the National Football Museum is on hand to educate you on the finer points of retro football gaming, and remind us ageing farts how good (or otherwise) we used to have it. Pitch to Pixel: The World of Football Gaming, designed by Manchester’s Instruct Studio and Liverpool’s Archiform, is an interactive exhibition featuring playable versions of the essential titles that brought the beautiful game into the bedroom.
As well as the vintage stuff, there’s loads for the current generation to relate to as well, such as the motion capture suits worn by Messi and co. for the FIFA covers, courtesy of EA Sports, and a photo booth which will transplant your (kid’s) head onto the famously faceless figure from Sports Interactive’s Football Manager box. The exhibition has already kicked off and will run at the Manchester museum for 10 months.