I’ve got a problem. A FIFA 10 problem. It’s 12:16am and I know that flamenco music is going to come bursting out of my phone at 7:00am like a flamboyant air raid siren, urging me out of bed. And that’s if I’m lucky enough not to be torn from my slumber by the howls of a hungry infant first. But instead of thinking about climbing under my doona and heading off to dreamland, I’m contemplating more FIFA 10. I can get through the day fine on five or six hours sleep, yeah? I’m sure that I can win the next one, and then I’ll head to bed. Right now my record stands at 10 wins 104 losses, so it’d be talking me up to say that I’m average, but I’ve lost the last two games by just a single goal. The thrill of victory is just around the corner, I can feel it. I know I can do this. I can make it work.
Sometimes I think that I’d be better off if I’d developed a gambling addiction. At least they’ve got a helpline.
It’s an abusive relationship from which I can’t withdraw. All of the common excuses keep dragging me back to the cruel, one-sided partnership. ‘It’s my fault that things aren’t working, but I can fix them; ‘If I just pick up and leave it’ll mean I’ve wasted all the time I’ve ploughed into this thing’; ‘It’s getting better… just yesterday I finished two up against a guy from Ireland.’ You know, the sort of things relationship counsellors must hear all the time.
A chocolatier once told me that the key to making chocolate that people won’t be able to stop eating (other than making great tasting chocolate) is to craft pieces that are just small enough as to not fully satiate their desires. And that devious little man with the almost impossibly clichéd curly moustache was completely right. It works, and not just for cocoa based treats. That’s what these peddlers of simulated soccer have obviously cottoned on to. Every loss feels like the next game is chance to win and six minutes is the perfect amount of time to leave you feeling like another wouldn’t hurt. It’s like Bejewelled Blitz for sports fans.
At this time, when the virtual has given way to the actual via satellite link to Johannesburg, things have only gotten worse when it comes to my sleep deprivation. Keeping up with as many matches as possible has meant that late nights given away to soccer have only increased. At least my newly developed South African body clock is much more suited to post-midnight play. And once world cup fever is over and I’m back to being stomped by 14-year-olds from the UK, I’ll be able to fit in some extra games, even later into the night.