Wireframe - #35 - 2020

(Joyce) #1
I hit on the idea of just doing it
stupidly, and simply.”
Behold the Kickmen excels
because it dares to look beyond
the established rules of football

  • like, say, Sensible Soccer, it
    distils the sport’s elements
    into a fast, competitive arcade
    game. “It was all about making
    something that, at its core,
    is quite dull, into something
    upbeat and enjoyable,” reflects

Marshall. “In an hour-and-a-half
of real football, the score might
be 1-0, which is one interesting
event happening in all that time,
which arguably isn’t brilliant for
a video game. So amping up the
effects, the music, all that stuff,
really helped give the whole
thing a shot of adrenaline.”
While Behold the Kickmen is
also a satire at heart, featuring
a central narrative which
channels every sport story
trope imaginable, its mockery
of football isn’t its greatest
success. What Kickmen does
best is show the benefits of
playing fast and loose with the

For Football Drama co-creator Pietro Polsinelli, the inspiration for his
game came from two writers: Uruguay’s Eduardo Galeano and Argentina’s
Osvaldo Soriano. “For Galeano, football in its simplest form – kids running
after a ball – is the ‘definition of happiness’.
The spirit of these writers is to approach
football as a sort of dream, like a Borgesian
man’s tribe ritual, whose sense goes beyond
language. These writers convey their attempts
at defining football through short stories
and episodes, masterfully written and full of
evocative power.”

rules, reimagining established
precedents, and most of all,
valuing fun over authenticity.
As Marshall says, “I always
quite liked the idea of playing
a football game, but the actual
‘football’ part of it turns me off.”

Football’s popularity – what
Marshall calls its ‘pervasiveness’

  • is difficult to define, even
    to those who’ve spent their
    whole lives playing. It’s a subject
    often covered in the literature
    surrounding the sport, and one
    that the game Football Drama
    seeks to channel. “You can refer
    to two different phenomena
    with ‘the magic of football’:

at a television, and I hate
feeling like the bad guy because
someone’s conversation opener
was, ‘So, who do you support?’”
Part satire, part arcade
reimagining, Behold the Kickmen
pays no attention whatsoever
to football’s established rules.
Offside sees half of the field
hilariously close off; the pitch
is circular, and scoring goals
nets you cash. All of this

unfolds against a backdrop of
nonsensical jeering and amped-
up electronica.
“It was nice to be able to just
free-wheel some of the rules,
especially when they broke
the flow of the game,” explains
Marshall. “I understand about
‘throw-ins’, but they stopped
the game and were boring, so
I just made the ball stay in play
at all times. I’m aware offside is
a hilariously complicated rule,
because I’ve seen people on
telly stumble over it for decades,
like it’s the funniest thing in the
world. But again, there was no
point recreating it properly, and



 The Football Manager series
either bewilders or bewitches,
depending on who you are.

 Dan Marshall is part of BAFTA
award-winning indie studio
Size Five, and developer of
Behold the Kickmen.

 Miles Jacobson OBE is
director of Football Manager
studio Sports Interactive.

The beautiful game: the studios redefining football


wfmag.cc \ 19
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