Returning to The New Yorker, one of the first articles I spotted in the Culture section was titled The Sports Video Game That’s Not About Sports. Given the subjects of my past few “Following a Writer” posts, this felt in line with what I have covered so far, so I opened the article despite not having any particular interests in Sports Video Games. Of course, as the title suggests, that interest was not necessary to understanding and appreciation the article. Written by Hua Hsu, the article is essentially a love letter to an old simulation game called Football Manager, where the player takes up the role of manager for a football team. Opposed to contemporary successful sports games like FIFA, Football Manager involved no actual sports-play and instead is about managing emails, scouting for recruits, and grooming players to success, and, as Hsu describes it, is mundane in its gameplay more often than not. Hsu praises the game’s diversity of statistics and deep capability for immersion despite being mostly text and blocky graphics, as well as its achievement of the developers’ desire to create a simulator in which the player is not at the center of the world but merely a part of it, largely unable to control the events of the game and forced to adapt to whatever circumstances arise.
Hsu successfully kept me invested in his article despite my initial disinterest and overall lack of experience/knowledge of his subject matter, so I feel he has definitely earned a spot on my list of writers to follow. Hsu has been a contributor for The New Yorker since 2014 and was hired as a staff writer just this year. He has been previously published in The Atlantic, Slate, The Wire, and other respectable venues, as well the author of a book titled A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific about the struggle for Chinese-American writers to establish American perceptions of China among differing opinions and experiences. Hsu does not appear to typically write about video games, but his one article about that topic brought him to my attention, and even though he deals mostly in areas outside of my realm of knowledge, he’s certainly earned himself a new reader.