17 July 2007

It's only a game

Cricinfo reviewed and gave a good rating to a computer game called International Cricket Captain III recently and it got me thinking about cricket's representation on the gaming scene generally. Of course nothing beats playing the game for real but given the kind of wretched weather the UK has been specialising in recently, it's fair to say that prospect of playing cricket in the comfort of your living room without any chance of smashing windows is enticing.

It's not easy rendering such a complex and multi-faceted sport, not even with today's technology. We can excuse, then, Graham Gooch World Class Cricket which I remember playing on my Atari 14 years ago, almost prehistoric times in an environment where Moore's Law dictates. I remember it being fun, but deeply flawed - it was possible to bowl a delivery that always bowled the batsman out, leading to boasts like "I bet I could declare on one and still win". To generate power in a shot, run between the wickets, swing the ball and do almost anything else you had to either bash the hell out of your keyboard or waggle your joystick to death (ahem). Furthermore, the player profiles were woefully wrong - for example, I'm pretty sure Brian Lara was right-handed and white.

After that came Ian Botham's International Cricket in 1996, which was much better to play and came with some videos of a wisecracking Beefy. It was too easy though, even for a complete no-hoper like me, and scores of 700 off 50 overs became par. Since then Brian Lara Cricket and its various versions are all that I've played (and good fun they are too) apart from a brief addiction to Stick Cricket at university when I should have been revising for my finals. One intriguing possibility would be a cricket game based for the Wii (they have tennis and ten-pin bowling after all). In fact, one of the CricketBurble team has what might be generously called a prototype of such a game and on playing it I found it to be an excellent reflection of real life - when batting I couldn't hit the ball and when bowling I couldn't hit the stumps.