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February 1, 2013 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Tim Rogers reviews American Football for Kotaku.
posted by 23 (32 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
hi tim!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:46 PM on February 1, 2013


Hmmm. I think the gag is probably more suited to the original Penny Arcade strip length than the Kotaku article. And I prefer the MMORPG wizard/tank/dps analogy to a collectible card game, I think. I know some people around these parts don't care for PA but "The quarterback is a wizard! The offensive line are his tanks. Running backs and receivers are the DPS, and damage is measured in yards!" gets the point across, is pretty dang accurate, and has pithiness on its side.
posted by Justinian at 10:57 PM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


well, the kotaku says all that too, but longer.
posted by nadawi at 12:17 AM on February 2, 2013


Given the choice between reading something Tim Rogers has written and virtually any activity, I'm loath to choose him, if only because I feel confident that the alternative will almost invariably contain fewer factual inaccuracies and less self-aggrandizement (with one often feeding into the other).

That said, he spearheaded the iOS game Ziggurat, so he can't be all bad.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:19 AM on February 2, 2013


For a very long time, I thought I was a nerd. The sources of that phenomena are probably pretty diverse, but at least one of them is the near constant assumption that if I wasn't into X, that *must* mean that I'm into Y. It's part, I suspect, of our relentless desire to categorize. Trying to make football appealing by pretending the only reason for rejecting beer commercials and cheerleaders *has* to be because nobody's ever explained it in the nerd terms I'll understand, all the while ignoring issues like massive amounts of money, and concussion-based murder/suicides, and faking dead girlfriends to win the Heisman, and all of that? Forgive me for thinking of that as some Chomsky-type apologetics for something that doesn't matter.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who knows next to nothing about American football, I'm finding this article really quite interesting and informative. If the shtick of reviewing football as though it were a nerdy new tabletop game is what it takes for me to learn more about a sport I would never have cared to read a whole article about otherwise, then so be it.
posted by narain at 2:19 AM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Between two experienced coaches, the very act of play selection is psychological paper-rock-scissors and poker, hugging as though super-glued together.
All this hyperbole is getting a bit much though. (That'll teach me to comment before finishing the article...)
posted by narain at 2:29 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not "sure" I understand the author's "intention" is with the use of "quotes" in this "article". All i know is that i imagine someone giving air quotes each time i see them and it's pretty distracting since it happens every "sentence".
posted by jadayne at 3:05 AM on February 2, 2013


Chief among the lies and vulgarities that pepper this wretched article is the depraved insinuation that American Football is somehow superior to Rugby.

Not to mention that if you think what Rugby lacks is 'polish' and 'tactical depth' you're quite possibly criminally insane.
posted by No! Not the MIND WORMS! Anything but that! Eeeagh! at 3:49 AM on February 2, 2013


If American football were about cheerleaders, I'd spend more time watching. I'm sure watching a season of televised NFL adds up to at least a couple of hours beer commercials, but only seconds of suggestive sugar.
posted by relish at 4:35 AM on February 2, 2013


One of the best ways to watch football, from a "game" perspective, is also one of the least-shown ways. The addition of the Skycam has let more play development be seen, but the constant focus on where the ball is means the average viewer loses track of the maneuvers on the field.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:45 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a fun article! I also enjoy football, and video games, and I myself find it pretty tedious that a subset of nerds love to insult football (and sports in general) while simultaneously getting mad that the world doesn't understand their own niche gaming obsession. Yes I understand that football players are paid excessively, and that it is the love of The Jock, the sworn enemy of The Nerd, but I, like Tim, have had a fun time over the years reducing sports down to basic, interesting, psychological game-ey elements. No problem in that.

I think that whenever a Tim Rogers article appears on Kotaku, everyone rushes to their keyboard to criticize his writing style, his article length, his use of quotation marks, his tendency to use overblown metaphor, and any one of a hundred other things. I guess I understand that maybe these sorts of stylistic flourishes can be frustrating and twee. But underneath that, he represents something I don't often see in modern video games journalism, which is actual intelligent thought applied to the world of games. (Queue the response: "wait you think this is intelligent thought?")

This article, which describes kind of basic game design in one million billion words and tangents, completely blew me away when I first read it. In the article, he kind of peers through a scanning electron microscope at games and describes the molecular moment-to-moment feel of good games that help hold it together. Yes it's an article that takes a while to read, and yes it's convoluted, and yes, it makes the author come off like he's really into himself, but whatever, authors are allowed some style, and they're allowed to use whatever internet space they're given.

I guess I'm just happy that someone is writing about video games and they're not just parroting press releases, or talking about "graphics," or just lazily listing things like poor english translation in video games. Tim Rogers has made me think about what I want in a video game, and that's good enough for me.

Here are two more great articles about video games that will occupy your Saturday morning. I'm pretty sure one was featured on metafilter.
posted by RubixsQube at 5:28 AM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Every time the ball touches the ground, that's a "down

Not true.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:31 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I finally started following football I quickly realized that it was really a game of wits between the two coaches more than anything else, and that very few fans really get that. Although we sure saw the reality in New Orleans in 2012.

My wife and a friend were in Las Vegas for the 2009 Super Bowl, and had comps to a pretty posh SB party. They were there with their Saints regalia and so after the fairy-tale turnaround where the Saints, who had only been to the playoffs once before in franchise history and got crushed in that wildcard game, won the Lombardi trophy, everyone was clapping them on the back and congratulating them. Finally they made their way to the elevator and at the last moment were joined by a British fellow who was wearing a rather disapproving look.

So with that goofy "we just won" enthusiasm my wife asked the guy if he saw the game.

"Oh, of course," he said kind of dourly.

"You didn't like it?"

"I just don't get American football," he said.

"What's wrong with it?" They were expecting a rant about how violent it is with all the hitting, etc. Instead he said:

"Too much thinking."
posted by localroger at 5:34 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Offensive tackles should have higher agility than centers and guards should have more power.

Defensive ends should be separate from defensive tackles. Ends should have higher agility than anyone on the the offensive line, and tackles should have more power.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tim obviously is one of those folks with a very poor understanding of football. If you're going to beat a metaphor to death, at least get it right.
posted by bfranklin at 5:55 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fine, I'll say it. I thought it was great.
posted by maxim0512 at 6:36 AM on February 2, 2013


As someone who knows next to nothing about American football, I'm finding this article really quite interesting and informative. If the shtick of reviewing football as though it were a nerdy new tabletop game is what it takes for me to learn more about a sport I would never have cared to read a whole article about otherwise, then so be it.

Yeah, this.

I'd love to see a similar description of soccer — which is a sport that drives me nuts because I understand the individual-level rules pretty well, but I still can't make any sense of the game when I watch it.

I guess the answer is, if you're trying to understand a new team sport — especially one with a big strategic element — it's not very useful to imagine you're a single player. It's more useful to think about it from the coach's point of view. The "football is basically MTG" framing gives a way of doing that.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:44 AM on February 2, 2013


One of the best ways to watch football, from a "game" perspective, is also one of the least-shown ways. The addition of the Skycam has let more play development be seen, but the constant focus on where the ball is means the average viewer loses track of the maneuvers on the field.

Same problem in hockey and soccer. I always try to watch the players away from the puck/ball, which makes the games much richer.

Similarly in baseball, watching the field maneuvering before each batter and pitch is most illuminating.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:52 AM on February 2, 2013


Am I the only one who read this in the voice of a not-at-all likable Martin Starr character?
posted by graphnerd at 7:05 AM on February 2, 2013


You can't learn the rules of football, you can only absorb them over time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:50 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't get into Magic The Gathering because, despite the fact that the game has some interesting strategy, it basically dispenses with character development. Plus, it seems like it's pretty specifically designed to suck money and time out of the people that get into it.

Now I know that I feel the same way about football.
posted by MrVisible at 8:17 AM on February 2, 2013


I'd love to see a similar description of soccer — which is a sport that drives me nuts because I understand the individual-level rules pretty well, but I still can't make any sense of the game when I watch it.

I'm trying to think of a similar pat analogy for soccer and not really managing to come up with anything, however I think, in terms of basic tactics and flow of the game, you could almost compare it to Go. Just like in a game of Go two concepts that come up a lot in discussion of soccer tactics are shape and space, and you can view almost every moment of a soccer match as a struggle to control space, and hinder the shape of your opponent.

(Forgive me if this level of analysis is simpler than what you want or restating things you already know; I'm describing one of the first "deeper" realizations I had about soccer that greatly helped me understand the game, and hoping it's the kind of thing you're looking for.)

The emphasis on space, in particular, is important to understand -- it is hard to keep control of a small round object that you can't ever touch with your hands. The best way to maintain control and be able to impose your will on the game is to find yourself in open space, unharassed by your opponents, and with the resulting time and freedom to pick out your next move and try to make it. This holds true on all areas of the pitch, right up to the final strike. There are very few players, even at the highest levels, who can reliably get off shots good enough to get past a determined keeper whilst they are being hounded by the defense -- they need space, even if only for a fraction of a second.

A large portion of what may seem like aimless kicking of the ball back and forth during a soccer match is actually the players on offense probing the defence and looking for this crucial space -- this is especially the case with the long cross-field passes that often go astray and leave you wondering why they were attempted. You will often hear a team that is defending and controlling the pitch well as having "good shape". This means they are spread out, keeping a fairly balanced position, and not opening large gaps for their opponents to play in to. The offense will spread the ball around, switch play from one side to the other, pass back to their keeper only for him to pass right back, and generally push and probe to try to drag their opponent out of shape and find the space they need to play.

Next time you watch a soccer match, keep an eye on the players away from the ball, and look at how they're moving in empty space. You'll see defenders pushing up and pulling back depending on where the ball is, strikers making runs trying to set themselves up for a pass that will find them free behind the defense, midfielders attempting to pull the defense once way or the other to open up space on the other side. It's all an effort to try to find the room you need to get a shot past 11 men, including one of the only two people one the pitch allowed to use his hands to stop a shot. Realizing why a lot of this action away from the goal mouth was happening helped me a lot.

Is that anything like what you were wanting? Sorry it's not an over-wrought 10,000 word analogy. :)
posted by jammer at 10:01 AM on February 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's funny that you mention character development because pretty much every sports video game these days features a single player career mode that is 100% just a CRPG with a sports game in place of the fighting. You pick a class (position) and earn points that you add to various skills to improve them; it can even feel very grindy. The only thing missing is the plot, which the player has to provide themselves.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:18 AM on February 2, 2013


I guess the answer is, if you're trying to understand a new team sport — especially one with a big strategic element — it's not very useful to imagine you're a single player.

Picking a player or two you like and watching them closely can be a pretty good way to learn. Or watch basketball then imagine it played real slow with a slippery ball.
posted by fleacircus at 12:26 PM on February 2, 2013


This is the first tim rogers article I won't read, mostly because I like video games a lot more than Football. Or war ball or whatever.
posted by Faithless327 at 6:58 PM on February 2, 2013


I myself find it pretty tedious that a subset of nerds love to insult football (and sports in general)

I love many things about MetaFilter, but this is one thing I really hate.

the fairy-tale turnaround where the Saints, who had only been to the playoffs once before in franchise history and got crushed in that wildcard game, won the Lombardi trophy

They got there by cheating.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:00 PM on February 2, 2013


Foolishly expected a review of this band. I should know better.
posted by ACair at 8:54 PM on February 2, 2013


kirkaracha, wtf?
posted by localroger at 9:01 PM on February 2, 2013


I think that whenever a Tim Rogers article appears on Kotaku, everyone rushes to their keyboard to criticize his writing style, his article length, his use of quotation marks, his tendency to use overblown metaphor, and any one of a hundred other things. I guess I understand that maybe these sorts of stylistic flourishes can be frustrating and twee. But underneath that, he represents something I don't often see in modern video games journalism, which is actual intelligent thought applied to the world of games. (Queue the response: "wait you think this is intelligent thought?")

This article, which describes kind of basic game design in one million billion words and tangents, completely blew me away when I first read it. In the article, he kind of peers through a scanning electron microscope at games and describes the molecular moment-to-moment feel of good games that help hold it together. Yes it's an article that takes a while to read, and yes it's convoluted, and yes, it makes the author come off like he's really into himself, but whatever, authors are allowed some style, and they're allowed to use whatever internet space they're given.

I guess I'm just happy that someone is writing about video games and they're not just parroting press releases, or talking about "graphics," or just lazily listing things like poor english translation in video games. Tim Rogers has made me think about what I want in a video game, and that's good enough for me.

Here are two more great articles about video games that will occupy your Saturday morning. I'm pretty sure one was featured on metafilter.


THIS. Tim Rogers is one of the best game journalists around and he does this by getting to the heart of the mechanics of games. I have no idea why people don't like him. He's also a great stylist, and one of the few game writers who know how to write. That said, even he can't make football clear to me, though I'm starting to while reading this article.

Foolishly expected a review of this band . I should know better.
posted by ACair at 3:54 PM on 2/3
[+] [!]


They both talk a lot about football.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:12 PM on February 2, 2013


I like the concept of explaining football as a game, but it's actually more interesting when you look at an explanation of the actual game rather than a bunch of stretched metaphors.

I've been reading stuff about Chip Kelly lately since he has been hired to coach my team, and there is some good stuff I have found along with that that gave me insight into how the game is really played.

Chip Kelly: Effective Use of Practice Time

FishDuck: Understanding the Oregon Spread Offense Tutorial Series

posted by Drinky Die at 12:31 AM on February 3, 2013


The Brutal Physics Of Football
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:22 AM on February 3, 2013


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