Cut from the Same Cloth: Gamers, Geeks and Sport Fanatics

One of the best things about big gaming and comic conventions like PAX, E3, Tokyo Game Show, and Comic Con is seeing all the hardcore fans in cosplay showing off what probably took weeks and possibly months of passionate hard word to create.

Some people take more time creating their costumes than others.

Some people take more time creating their costumes than others.

Many people will say that cosplay is unique to gaming and ‘geek’ culture, a term that I don’t care for personally.

Yes, gamers, as well as those who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books are a passionate lot, and we get lumped together as being geeks or nerds. We can be very enthusiastic when it comes to our hobby and genres of choice, leading to impassioned conversations, public displays of fandom, and remarkable acts of cosplay.

Non-gamers and non-geeks will casually point out that cosplay, online flame wars, the waiting in line for a midnight launch, and Gamergate as examples of their superiority over the lowly gamer and geek.

Dressing up like idiots, queuing up outside in the cold, having irrational and heating conversations is beneath them. They have too much class for that nerd bullshit.

There is one group in particular, who has a tendency of being very much anti-geek and anti-gamer, and yet, practices the same behavior as many hardcore gamers and nerds, but they would never admit it.

fans

The NFL is the most popular sports league in America and its fans are a passionate and vocal bunch, just like gamers and pop culture enthusiasts.  Dressing up and going to a game looking like a rejected juggalo is okay, because they’re just showing TEAM SPIRIT. They’ll put a block of cheese on their heads and sit in sub-zero temperatures with their fellow fans and enjoy it god damn it. If you have a fucking a problem with that or god forbid, are a fan of the opposing team, you better be prepared to have beer poured on you and being cursed at the entire game.

Or if you’re at a Raiders game, being shanked in the belly with a filed down screwdriver.

Or if you’re at a Raiders game, being shanked in the belly with a filed down screwdriver.

It’s not just American football that has fanatical fan bases.

Random baseball fan.

Random baseball fan.

Random Canadian hockey fans.

Random Canadian hockey fans.

Random Swedish soccer fan.

Random Swedish soccer fan.

There are other parallels as well between gamers and sport fans.  In the case of this blog post however, we’ll stick with football fans, since football season has just started and football fans can be the most obnoxious.

As it was mentioned earlier, gamers and geeks alike can be very vocal online in the comments sections of various blogs, websites, and online forums.  Look at the reactions you see online whenever a highly anticipated game comes out or the game industry is going under some controversy, like Gamergate.

RAGE!

RAGE!

Sports fans and football fans especially can be just as vocal. Go onto a site like ProFootballTalk.com and read some of the comments and you’ll encounter some of the most amazingly fanboyish trolling since the inception of the Internet. It’s almost like someone just took the comments from the Destructoid forums and did a ‘find and replace’ of all mentions of PS4 with the New England Patriots, and Xbox with Dallas Cowboys

Sports talk radio is also incredibly hilarious.  I was up in Boston recently and had the opportunity to hear Patriot apologists, like long time listener first time caller Peter from Quincy Massachusetts who thinks “AHHH, THE NFL COMMISSIONAHH HAS IT OUT FOR BRADY AND THE PATS BECAUSE WE AHHH WINNAHS AND EVERYONE AHHH LOSAHS. YOU THINK BRADY IS THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRSIT? THANKS! I’LL HANG UP AND LISTEN.”

Tomorrow they'll be back at their jobs as neurosurgeon and attorney.

Tomorrow they’ll be back at their jobs as neurosurgeon and attorney.

Hardcore football fans, like Peter from Quincy are worse than console fanboys. Console fanboys are bad, but hardcore Patriots fans and football fans by extension are delusional and highly paranoid group of people.

I freely admit that I used to be a jock. I played football and soccer, ran track, and was a gym rat. I still enjoy going to the gym, passionate about soccer, watch a fair amount of both baseball and football. There are also teams that I follow closely and I am passionate about. I own a few Yankee caps and soccer shirts, I follow the NFL and root for the Giants, and on occasion, still play a bit of soccer and try not to tear my hamstrings or shred the ligaments in my knees.

Then there is the fantasy aspect of the NFL, something that I partake in every year, because I like to combine watching grown men giving each other brain damage with gambling.

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When I first tried Fantasy Football, the Internet was still in its relative infancy.  A group of my jock friends and I met in one of our parent’s basements, and performed our draft.

We elected someone the commissioner of our league, ran a raffle to setup the draft order, and consulted a book that contained the rules and statistics of every player in the NFL that could be drafted. This was the gamification and nerdification of football in its infancy as far as I’m concerned.

Looking back I see that our early NFL Fantasy Draft was essentially D&D for jocks and frat bros. Our commissioner was our Dungeon Master, the official draft book was our Official D&D Player’s Handbook, and the teams we were creating were our avatars, who would battle every week.

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My group of friends and I were now no different than the nerds we made fun of for playing Magic the Gathering at lunch. The only difference being that the nerds debated the tactics of using a Fire Wizard against an Ice Orc (or some shit like that) and the jocks deliberated whether to start Steve Young against the Dallas defense.

Magic the Gathering Players

Because I was not a pure meat-head like many of my jock friends, as I was into sports, but liked to indulge my nerdy side as well, I was able to see how the two pastimes of fantasy sports and fantasy role-playing had plenty in common. However, the jocks, meat-heads, as well as the nerds would never dare to admit that what they were actually were pretty closely related.

I'm like this guy, who went to a Saints football game dressed as FABULOUS Master Chief.

I’m like this guy, who went to a Saints football game dressed as FABULOUS Master Chief.

Now, fantasy sports have gone online and massively multiplayer with sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, much like video games in general with the proliferation of eSports, Xbox Live, and PSN. On top of all this, there is substantial money that can be made in both fantasy sports and eSports as well. The only difference is that the media and public perception is that fantasy football is cool and manly; while eSports is for geeks and freaks that live out of their parent’s basements and is generally a fringe pastime.

It does look like we’re starting to see a pivot however. ESPN, the self-professed worldwide leader in sports has taken an interest in televising and covering eSports.  This is a substantial shift in my opinion.  Perhaps they see that the demographic is merging, and that there is no longer a clear distinction between the fans of sports, eSports, and gaming. I mean, I like sports and gaming, and the fact that ESPN is now covering both is something that resonates with me personally.

"I too enjoy combining sports and gaming" - FABULOUS Master Chief.

“I too enjoy combining sports and gaming” – FABULOUS Master Chief.

Even DraftKings, purveyor of horrible advertising and weekly Fantasy Football betting is tipping its toe into eSports gambling. Their goal is to tap into eSports Gambling in Asia first and then slowly expand globally.  So our friends in Asia can look forward to being constantly bombarded by shitty ads featuring grinning screaming/morons like the ones below.


So in the end, the sports nut, the gamer, and the sci-fi/fantasy geek have more in common than not.  We’re all kindred spirits who should be united in our fanaticism. We should rid ourselves of juvenile terms coined in the halls of high schools such as nerd, jock, geek, meat-head, and freak. In solidarity, we should wear diary products on our heads like a hat, dress up as Bilbo Baggins, cover our bodies in grease paint while stand out in the cold. We shall continue to berate and verbally assault people online who may disagree with you, whether it’s an obnoxious Pats fan our PC Master Racers.

We are all the same. Except for wrestling fans. Those people are weird.

SmugFan

10 “Sports” That Should be in Video Games

It’s early spring and the spectre of warmer weather is upon us. Soon, we can expect longer days, warm air, flowering shrubbery and all the stuff that comes with the turn of the seasons. Of course, if you live in the southern hemisphere, this time of year means that winter is coming for you (HEAD EXPLODES). My earth science teacher would be proud that I actually retained that information, given that for most of my high school days I was preoccupied with sports, girls, lost in an ether of bong hits, funneling beer, and inhaling nitrous oxide through balloons. Good times.

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Know what else comes in the spring and summer? Playing sports outside. Americans will soon become enamored with baseball, everyone else in the world will dive headfirst into other games. What’s popular in the UK during spring and summer? Quidditch? Pretty sure it’s Quidditch. This got me thinking; we really are in a rut when it comes to new sports games. It’s always about Football, Soccer, Basketball, Hockey, and Baseball.  There are so many more sports out there that can add a bit of spice to the tired yearly retreads. Many of these sports are batshit crazy. They are just begging to be made into a videogame.

10. Il Palio di Siena

In the town of Siena, just a short way from the city of Florence in picturesque province of Tuscany, they enjoy themselves a good old fashioned horse race a couple of times a year. When I say “old fashioned” I really do mean OLD FASHIONED, as in they’ve been doing these races since the 14th century and possibly even earlier.

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Twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, all the neighborhoods in the city sponsor a horse and jockey. The main plaza in the heart of the city, known as the Piazza del Campo, is converted into a dirt track and locals and tourists pile in to witness the festivities.

The entire city pretty much turns into a Renaissance Fair, as people dress in period garb, toss banners in the air, blow trumpets, pretend to have the plague, marry their own sisters, put leaches on their scrotums, and toss women accused of witchcraft into wells. (Full Disclosure: I’ve never actually been to a Renaissance Fair.)

The main event of course is the horse race. Jockey’s supported by the neighborhood they represent are escorted into the transformed piazza on their horses bareback. The rules? There pretty much are no rules. Want to punch the jockey next you? Go ahead! Kick a guy off his mount? Be our guest! Claw, bite, cheat if you like, just as long as you win!  By the way, even if a horse comes in first without a rider, doesn’t matter, that horse wins. The rider is there only for decoration. He can be mangled heap on the side of the track for whatever its worth.

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To put it simply, Il Palio to Siena is like the classic motorcycle combat game Road Rash.

I’m actually surprised this wasn’t a minigame or mission in the Assassin Creed II, you know the one with the whiny Florentine, Ezio Auditore. Racing in Il Palio di Siena would have been right up his alley. Ubisoft dropped the ball on that one.


9. Roller Derby

Do you know there’s a Roller Derby game released for the original Wii? No? That’s because it was Wii Ware shovelware crap.

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I refuse to acknowledge your existence.

Roller Derby deserves better than a Wii Ware game. It’s a fast, brutal game, with strong and sexy women as the star athletes. Not only are the ladies of Roller Derby not unattractive, but they can kick in your face then shove an old school four wheeled roller skate up your ass.

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No not up your ass silly!

Roller Derby is one of those sports that can really translate well in a videogame. I propose taking the ladies from Dead or Alive, and instead of going off to the islands for beach volleyball, which is stupid, they should form a team and join a Roller Derby league. I’d buy that shit up in a second and not feel one iota of shame, which I couldn’t say is how I felt when I bought Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball at the local Best Buy years ago.

This is the tamest image I could find on a Google search.

This is the tamest image I could find on a Google search.

8. Chess Boxing

Chess Boxing is an actually thing and its fans and athletes take it very seriously. Events are held worldwide and it is especially popular in the UK and Iran, but leagues are sprouting up all over the world.


The rules of Chess Boxing are pretty clear-cut. One should be both a good boxer and chess player as you can win or loose at any facet of the game. Six rounds lasting 3 to 4 minutes of chess are alternated with five 3 to 4 minute rounds of boxing. You win by either checkmating your opponent in chess or KO/TKO in boxing.

Now, making entire game devoted to chess boxing would be ridiculous, but what’s stopped EA from making this an unlockable feature in their Fight Night series. I think Chess Boxing online against a human foe would be lots of fun and the trash talking possibilities are endless.

7. Wheelchair Rugby / Murderball

Played in over 27 countries as well as the Paralympics, wheelchair rugby is perhaps the most intense sport for Para-athletes.


Developed in the 1970’s by a group of disabled Canadians, who were seeking a sport other than wheelchair basketball, in which athletes who had upper body disabilities were relegated to non-offensive roles. They named their newly found sport Murderball because Homicide Ball didn’t roll off the tongue as well.

To be eligible to play Murderball, one must have a disability that impacts both the upper and lower body. Just because the participants are disabled doesn’t mean that this sport is for the squeamish. The game is intense, physical, and hard collisions with men on modified wheelchairs are not the exception but the rule.

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I highly recommend for anyone who is interested to check out the documentary film Murderballwhich covers the intense preparation and rivalry between the Canadian and US Wheelchair Rugby teams leading up to the 2004 Paralympic Games.

I would say something cute about how to make this sport into a videogame, but what else needs to be said? This is tough sport, played by tough guys who are braver than I not only for playing, but living and thriving in spite of their disabilities. A videogame that brings more awareness not only to the sport, but also to those with disabilities would be a good thing.

6. Buzkashi

Buzkashi can be summarized simply as an Afghan style of Polo. Unlike Polo, which is a game played by the wealthy on pristinely manicured fields and watched by woman wearing ridiculous hats, Buzkashi is a bit grittier and certainly less exclusive.

Just a wee bit grittier.

Just a wee bit grittier.

First off, instead of a ball getting knocked around with mallets towards a goal in Polo, in Buzkashi, the “ball” is the carcass of a goat. Each team, consisting of 4 to 5 players attempt to lean off their horses to retrieve the goat and carry it to the goal, as the opposing the team attempt to stop the “goat carrier.”

Competition is pretty fierce. Getting whipped in the face by an opponent or getting knocked off your horse is not uncommon. Many riders prefer to wear old Soviet tank helmets to protect themselves. See! Something good came out of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The sport was actually outlawed by the Taliban when they took control of Afghanistan, citing that it was immoral. However, the sport is starting to make a comeback.

As a videogame, Buzkashi would be perfect as a mini game in Goat Simulator. Imagine the hijinks with that. There already is a goat; all you needs are some Afghani horsemen and BOOM! BUZKASHI TIME!

Also, doesn’t Metal Gear V take place in Afghanistan? I’ve seen videos online of Snake on horseback with the horse actually shitting. All you need is a goat and voila, you have yourself a Buzkashi match waiting to happen. Kojima-san needs to make this happen. Multiplayer Buzkashi matches would be fantastic.

Also HORSE POOP!

Also HORSE POOP!

There is no reason why Buzkashi should not be in Metal Gear V as Kojima already puts creepy hairless cigarette smoking monkeys in his games, Buzkashi would be downright normal as far I’m concerned.

5. Calcio Fiorentino

The people of Tuscany must have a hard-on for brutal sports. We already talked about the Il Palio, which takes place in the town of Siena. Just a short distance from Siena, in the city of Florence they play Calcio Storico Fiorentino, which translates to Historic Florentine Football.

The game originated in the 16th century and many believe that it’s based on the Roman sport of harpastum. Chances are pretty good that big hairy oiled men played that game while wearing loin clothes. Let that image set in and marinate ladies.

Once again, like Il Palio, the teams represent various neighborhoods throughout the city. In the third week of June every year, the Piazza Santa Croce is filled in with sand and a pitch is created.

The modern version of the game consists of 27 players per side. Matches last for 50 minutes and the goal is to carry the ball from your end and tossing it into your opponent’s goal.  Sounds simple enough and relatively similar to rugby.

Unlike Rugby, head-butting, punching, elbowing, choking are all legal. Sucker punches are frowned upon though, and two or more players can’t gang up on a single opponent, unless he’s carrying the ball of course, then you can go ahead and beat the ever loving shit out of him.

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When the game is started the player who wins possession of the ball very often runs behind his line and witnesses the carnage of 27 men fighting hand to hand, MMA style. Games quickly devolve into a gang fight and the ball handler waits until he has an opening where enough players are knocked out or being held down (or not joking, sat on) to make a move and run towards the goal without getting the shit kicked out of him in the process.

And the referee is FABULOUS!

And the referee is FABULOUS!

Like Il Palio, how did Ubisoft neglect to make this part of Assassin’s Creed II? Yes, the game originated shortly after the events of Assassin’s Creed II’s timeline, but how awesome would it be to play as Ezio while he battled hand to hand in brutal version of Rugby. Hell, it could have been a mission where he had to assassinate one of the opposing team’s players. Jesus Ubisoft, you really dropped the ball on this one, do I have to fucking think of everything?

4. Bo-Taoshi

Bo-Taoshi is a game played in Japan by mostly students and cadets at the National Defense Academy. It loosely translates into “bring down the pole” in English. The objective of the game is to, wait for it, bring down a pole.


I’m disappointed that they the creators of the game couldn’t think of something more, creative, since I do believe that the whole exercise of keep a long hard wooden pole erect while an opposing team tries to pull it down, has some definite phallic undertones. I mean, it’s an erect dick right?

In the game, two teams of 75 players each go head to head and the goal is to either keep the penis, ahem, pole, erect, while the other team tries to pull it down. Sounds simple, no? Well there is a good amount of strategy involved as players have clearly defined roles and positions.

On the defense, there are pole supporters, barriers, interference, disablers, and my favorite, the ninja. The ninja balances on top of the pole and uses his weight to counter balance when the offensive team is trying to pull the pole down.

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The offense consists of spring boarders, attackers, and pole attackers, who try to knock the ninja down and take the pole down.

The offense wins the game if they are able to pull the pole down 30 degrees, respective to the ground, which is not an easy task when there are 75 Japanese cadets beating the shit out of you.

In a videogame, I can see Bo-Taoshi being an excellent party game, maybe utilizing the Kinect or Playstation Camera. Go ahead and have a few drinks, laugh with your friends, and try to knock the ninja off his giant penis. It’s fun for the whole family really. Get the grandparents involved, THEY’LL LOVE IT.

3. Royal Shrovetide Football

Shrovetide Football has been played in England in the town of Ashbourne since at least the 12th century. It may even be older, but fires destroyed the earlier records. With that said, this game is old as dirt.


Played on the Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, as well as the day of Ash Wednesday itself, the game’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Some say that the game started when a man’s head was tossed into the crowd after an execution. The mob would then battle for the head, much in the same way a crowd goes crazy to retrieve a homerun hit into the bleachers in a baseball game.

Like Calcio Fiorentino, the game really is just an excuse for people from different parts of town to beat the shit out of each other for bragging rights. Unlike Calcio Fiorentino, the field, or pitch, as my English friends lovable call it, is the entire fucking town.

The game starts off in the center of town where a ball is tossed into the mob. From there, the teams (Up’Ards and Down’Ards) vie for control of the ball, where they try to return it to a goal in their part of town using any means necessary As one can see, the teams are formed depending if you live uptown or downtown.

Upon kick-off, at 2:00 PM, the game is played out over a course of 8 hours, which is a really long fucking time. Hope there’s alcohol involved or this is going to be long day. Wait, I forgot, this is England, of course there’s alcohol involved.

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So how do you make this into a videogame? Watching the video, I can’t help but to notice the mass of humanity and total chaos. I get a Dead Rising vibe. I reckon it would be easy to tweak the code in Dead Rising so that one can play a game of Shrovetide football against a horde of zombies.

2. Kabbadi

Kabbadi is very popular in India, Pakistan, South Asia, and Southeast Asian countries. It is also the national game of Bangladesh.

After reading multiple explanations, the game appears to be a cross of some of our favorite and most cherished playground games from our youth, before the bleeding hearts ruined everything, and banned all of or favorite games because little Billy might scrape his knee. The main facets of the game include, holding one’s breath, playing tag, and gold a fashioned wrestling.

Each team consisting of 7 players occupy their half of a court. They will then send forth a “raider” who will cross over to the opponent’s side. Before crossing over however, he must take a deep gulp of air, and hold his breath while attempting to tag one of the opposing team’s members and then cross back over to his side to score a point. All the while, he must say the word “Kabbadi” over and over again to prove that he is not inhaling, while the opposing team does what ever it takes to keep the raider from crossing back over. The raider can be wrestled and pinned down until he takes a gasp of air.

Also, these guys are jacked.

Also, these guys are jacked.

Indeed, this game does seem fun. The only way I could improve it is if it incorporated a staring contest as well. Then every playground game from my childhood would be represented.

No clue how this could be made into a videogame, but it is crazy as hell, so someone who’s cleverer than me should have no problem designing it. Utilize the Kinect or Playstation Camera. Once again, great possibilities for an interesting party game that can turn violent at a drop of a hat.

1. Jai Alai

When I was a wee lad, one of the coolest shows on television was Miami Vice, starring Don Johnson and… that other guy.

Don Johnson and..... that other guy.

Don Johnson and….. that other guy.

I was too little to really understand what was going on in the show, but man, did I want to be them, driving around in hot supercars, shooting guns, and hooking up with buxom ladies in bikinis.

By far, my favorite part of the show was it’s iconic opening credits. It encompassed everything that was awesome. Guns, speedboats, sports cars, beautiful women, while that hypnotic pulsating music played in the background.


There was one short clip during the opening credits that intrigued me the most, and that was of that dude playing Jai Alai. I had no clue what the hell they were doing, but this was Miami Vice, so it had to be fucking sweet.

I’m not even going to pretend I know anything about Jai Alai or even attempt to explain the rules, as I’m too lazy. I’ve read through many posts on the sport and have no clue, but this is even more of a reason to make this into a  videogame, as it will educate people, and maybe bring some exposure to the game. Here’s a link to Wikipedia, see if you can make heads or tales of the rules.

Here’s a video from the 80’s that is so bad it’s great

The game is indeed pretty badass. Known as the “fastest sport in the world”, players routinely sling the ball upwards of hundreds of miles per hour with their xisteras. The fastest toss in Jai Alai clocked in at 188 mph, a world record. Just imagine what that would do if it hit you in the nuts fellas.

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Given the popularity of this game in South Florida, it would have been right at home in Rockstar Games homage to the excesses of the 1980’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Rockstar borrowed so many themes from Miami Vice, that the more that I think about, the Jai Alai omission from the game appears glaring. Then again, we’re talking about the PS2, so perhaps storage or tech limitations were an issue? Who the fuck knows really? I’m pulling stuff out of my ass.

I will say that Vice City is long overdue to be revisited. Rockstar Games returned the series to Liberty City and San Andreas, I think a next generation iteration of GTA: Vice City would be amazing and including a Jai Alai minigame would be a no brainer.