Football Manager, Games, Games Design, The 80s

Games Design and the Birth of an Industry

All those years ago, in the early eighties, I wrote the original Football Manager. At that time, the only option was to sell it yourself. I formed a company, placed adverts,  and started shipping the game by  mail order. The inexpensive home computers that came onto the market at that time provided the tools for people like me to write games, and created a market.

Football Manager from the early 80s
Football Manager from the early 80s

Most of the people selling games in the early eighties had created them themselves, and worked to a simple idea- producing a better game next time. No-one at that time was thinking of movie licence tie-ins or other commercial decisions. It was a time of creativity and fresh games ideas. In a way it was innocent. It is one of the reasons the Retro scene is nostalgic for that time.

With no licence tie-ins, no commercial spin offs, the key to success was a good game, and something innovative, to draw attention. Few of the people that were running the businesses then had run one before, and most were young. Everybody was learning as they went. I even remember a top flight accountant who was advising me, saying “If this is just a passing fad, computer games, we’ll help you to wind up the company with minimum damage to you”. – Hardly a passing fad, an industry that is now an enormous entertainment industry. The funny thing was, even then, I thought “He’s wrong, it’s not a new fad, only the technology is new, games have been around for thousands of years.”

But it was the birth of a new industry. In a few years we went from selling only by mail order to being in the main high street stores and selling across the world. People in business suits got interested, and the industry steadily changed as it was no longer being run by pioneers breaking unknown ground. 

It was good to experience those times.

Games, Games Design

The Enthusiasm of Games Writers

Over the years I have met many game writers and other creative designers. At times it has been sad, when I have met people who have produced great work, that was successful. – And yet those people were either ripped off, or not paid. Times like that can make you disillusioned, or cynical.

Some of the people I have met have still carried on despite being treated so badly. Why is that? Well because they love what they do, and even though they are not rewarded they cannot stop.

Last night I attended a meeting of independent games developers. It was good to spend time with people who were so enthusiastic about what they were doing. It was refreshing, and it was fun. It’s an art-form creating games, and it’s a fun art-form to be in. I know business well, but what I believe is:-

The business should serve the art, not the art serving the business

Football Manager, Games, Games Design, The 80s

Playing Football Manager – Nostalgia

In this article here, Richard Herring writes well about what it is like playing the online emulated version of Football Manager after many years. It conjured pictures in my mind of what it was like for him. His comments about the simplicity are right. But, it had subtlety underneath. Like a lot of good software, it should not be complex to use, even if what it does IS complex! Of course it was a long time ago, and I would write it quite differently if I was doing it now. But the balance of that game is something I was happy with.

Football, Games, Games Design, The 80s

Each game was different

I wrote the original Football Manager, Football Manager 2, Football Manager World Cup edition, and a few years ago, Footymax. All of them were Football Management games and yet, in each one, the gameplay was different. I sometimes think that I was trying to move too many steps at once between the early games, but I am inventive, and it sort of happens, naturally. It’s a question for me, what steps to take, what innovations really are worth it? I have seen some of the clones of the original Football Manager over the years, and most of them tried to keep the basics of the original game.

Games, The 80s

Football Manager – the name

Football Manager, Football Manager. I never realised the name had so much value. Until Sports Interactive purchased the name Football Manager from the company that bought if from me a long time ago. So now it has a new life as Football Manager 2008, nothing to do with me now. Hmmm…

Games, Software Star, The 80s

Software Star

This was a business game I wrote after Football Manager. Simple to play but lots of fun. I remember one person writing to me and complaining, because it was possible to succeed in the game sometimes by using hype. -And when you did that, it was more powerful than honesty in its impact. What they did not like was that hype was more potent than honesty. They felt that was immoral.  My thinking was, it’s just a game, entertainment, but funnily enough, hype when it is believed in real life DOES tend to bring greater results than honesty. Sad but true, I am sure you can think of examples….

Games, The 80s

Kick Off!

Hi, yes, I am the author of the original Football Manager series of games which came out in the eighties and nineties for various computers, such as: • Sinclair Spectrum • Commodore 64 • Amstrad CPC • Atari ST • Amiga • IBM PC • and others. I also wrote Software Star, President, and I recently created an online Football Management game