Some (belated) thoughts on the World Cup and futbol in America

Every four years, there is a month where Americans care about futbol. That month has come and gone, and once again I’m left longing for more. The tragedy of it all is that soccer has gained some momentum with Americans, but just like last time, and the time before that, we are left without world class soccer to follow after the World Cup is over. Sure we have Major League Soccer, but lets face it, I could probably assemble a competitive MLS team from the ranks of planners at Martin. 

The reality is that once August rolls around and brings the NFL with it, soccer in America will once again find itself relegated to the TV screens of bars named after Beatles songs and the Tweets of Sports-Hipsters, and I’ll be one of the few people left looking at the MLS latest predictions and betting tips.

That, to me, is why soccer continually fails to gain a foothold in America. Just when it starts to gain traction, it essentially disappears for four years, leaving us to forget about it while we watch our country’s best athletes playing in the sports that we already love. 

Which brings up an entirely different issue: our best athletes grow up fantasizing about the money and glitz that comes from playing sports with deep pockets like basketball and football. There’s no glory in devoting your life to soccer, so there’s very little talent flowing into it. And that’s if our best athletes get to the point where soccer even enters into their consideration set.

Right after the US was eliminated by Ghana (again), the head of US soccer joined the talking heads on ESPN to talk about the future of American soccer, and in doing so, he brought up a really interesting point: We’ve got it backwards. In the rest of the world, futbol is the game of the masses. It’s democratic, played by everyone, from the poorest neighborhoods on up. In the US, soccer is culturally a pay-to-play sport, so a lot of people aren’t exposed to it, and if they are exposed to it, they often don’t keep playing as they get older. The result is that our pool of quality players is tiny when compared to the size of our population. 

Also, most of the people who pay-to-play soccer pop their collars. And no one wants to be like those guys.  

In any case, I really like it. I’d like to start following someone (ANYONE) so that I have an excuse to keep watching. If anyone has a good suggestion on a good team to start following, I’m all ears.

Simple Indie Game Eyecandy: Limbo from Playdead Games

I think my favorite aspect of the indie game scene is the willingness to push graphics towards simple beauty rather than pursue mind-blowing spectacle. It's certainly a product of making small games, and probably not having the big budgets to make things look conventionally spectacular … whatever the reason, it forces game designers to use the old noggin and get imaginative. 

The video below is a teaster for an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade release from Playdead Games called Limbo. According to Ars, the game does an incredible job of recreating the sort of amorphous, constantly changing world of a weird dream, filling you with a sense of dread as you play the role of a boy who is exploring a nightmarish dreamscape, fraught with dangerous traps and beasts.

In any case, the overall aesthetic and feel that they've crafted is amazing in it's simplicity, it's feel, and it's unique nightmarish beauty: