Football Manager as a Persuasive Game for Social Identity Formation

Football Manager as a Persuasive Game for Social Identity Formation

Linda K. Kaye (Edge Hill University, UK)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6206-3.ch001

Abstract

This case illustrates the way in which the football management simulation game, Football Manager (Sports Interactive), enhances the processes through which players formulate their social identities, which extend beyond the boundaries of gameplay itself. The case discusses the findings of my interviews with Football Manager players, which provides an in-depth examination of experiences associated with the game, both during gameplay and the way in which it functions within the wider social contexts of their lives. I discuss these findings in relation to social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978, 1979; Tajfel & Turner, 1979), through the way in which the game promotes players' sense of in-group affiliation, as well as promoting positive shared experiences between players. In this way, the current case presents an interesting insight into the social functions of the game and its role within the social narratives and identities of its players. From this, I conclude the utility of Football Manager as a persuasive game for formulating players' social identities, which may lead to further positive social impacts.
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Setting The Stage

This case describes the way in which the football management simulation game Football Manager (Sports Interactive) enhances the processes through which players formulate their social identities, which extend beyond the boundaries of gameplay. The game not only provides opportunities for players to make decisions and consider tactics, but provides social experiences in which players compete in online leagues, or can engage in network play with other players. This presents an interesting case for examining the different social experiences associated with playing this particular digital game. That is, the direct social experiences of play (e.g., social interactions, competition) may be distinct from other those of other games, due the nature of the game features. Specifically, whereas other “e-sports” may present greater opportunities for direct competitive gameplay and interactions, Football Manager may present alternative social opportunities, such as “indirect social experiences” which occur outside of gameplay (e.g., social cohesion, conversations relating to the game).

Prior to the case described in this chapter, little research has been dedicated to specifically examining the digital game Football Manager, and how it functions within players’ everyday social experiences. In fact, to date, little research has been dedicated to examining these issues for any form of digital game. The need for further research, particularly in relation to sports games and the activity of sport more generally, is reflected in the recommendations by Leonard (2004), particularly in calling for further qualitative research to investigate such issues. Based on this assertion, I felt it was important to explore both the in-game and “outside-of-game” social experiences associated with playing Football Manager. This was intended to provide an in-depth examination of gamers’ experiences associated with the game, both during gameplay and the way in which it functioned within the wider social contexts of their lives. To achieve the aims of my research, I interviewed four Football Manager players who had a range of experiences with this specific game.

Table 1.
Demographics of the sample
PseudonymGenderAgeFM Experience (In Years)
SusanFemale192
PeterMale25>5
KirkMale204
JamesMale26>5

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