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Sports Gamer - David

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I have enjoyed all kinds of sport for as long as I can remember, and as a member of 'Generation Y' (just about), I grew up in a world where most activities pursued outdoors could be mirrored in computer game form at home.

As such, my childhood sporting memories revolve almost as much around 'World Cup' on the Commodore 64 as they do playing 'jumpers for goalposts' style in the park. While I'm sure it would be difficult for many sport loving kids today to do much more than smirk at the likes of 'Track and Field' on the Amstrad 6128 or 'California Games' for the Amiga 600, for me times spent huddled with mates round tiny screens, waggling joysticks and enduring endless loading screens, constitute an important part of my earliest sporting memories.

As I got older and began to play various sports at school first team, local club and (in a couple of cases) county level, computer games maintained a significant presence. Twelve year old me knew of no better way to prepare for a Saturday afternoon cricket match than a morning session of SNES NBA Jam action at a team-mate's house. Likewise every Thursday after volleyball practice there was always a couple of hours for Fifa International Soccer or NHL '94 on the Mega Drive before my mate's Mum collected him from mine. Now I'm not saying that I didn't love Street Fighter II, Cannon Fodder, Doom or Bomberman - because I totally did - it's just that, for me, the best sports games had an excitement factor, an immediacy and a wider resonance that most other types of game found it hard to achieve.

If I had to look back over the years and single out both the games that have most engrossed and gripped me (in an obsessive, stay-up-all-night-practicing kind of way) and those which have produced the least hassled, most enjoyable multi-player sessions, I think they'd almost all be sports games. On my journey from a sweaty rubber-keyboarded ZX Spectrum, through ownership of (or regular access to) most of the major consoles, to mostly Xbox 360 and PC based gaming, I've never lost a passion for helping on-screen sprites run, pass, putt, shoot, swim and throw their (and mine) way to Olympic, World Championship, PGA Tour or FA Cup glory. To this day the first thing I look for on a new platform is a solid sports title and, for me, while a great sports game often sets the bar for the competition, the failure of one to appear can prove the hurdle at which a format falls.

I hope my twenty-odd years of enthusiasm for and experience of sports gaming will bring to Game People a useful perspective not only on how new offerings shape up against their current competition and relate to their forebears, but also on just how enjoyable and significant sports games can be for those passionate about real-world sport.

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