"Pass.. Pass.. Pass!!" somebody shouts, as my player makes his way down the flank. "Hit square, cross it..!" somebody else yells. Everyone's eyes are glued to the TV as my player flicks the ball to Rooney who's standing close to the goal. Ball's almost there, hovering above him and now everyone in the room sits silent, waiting for me to tap the right button. This is FIFA.
Hours go by, and we're still there, staring at the screen, tapping the buttons hard, swerving ourselves as our player makes a run along the pitch. Girlfriends, wives, uncles and dogs wonder how long more until we look away from the screen to give the rest of the world some attention. Though it just carries on with one word at the end of every game, "Rematch".
There's never that feeling of guilt for having played too much, never a time that's inappropriate for playing football. But then again, you would find yourself in conflict with non players. They wouldn't understand.
Look at what I've turned into. This game seemed pretty harmless when I used to play with friends in school and college. It was just one of those titles sitting on my shelf until I felt it had been long since I played football. It was hardly competitive, and even if it was- I'd put the game back in it's case and give time to games like "Mafia" "Mortal Kombat" or "Prince of Persia".
So I come to Bangalore and I'm doing my bit with exploring this city and it's people. I make a few friends, and we're sitting at Jimmy's café. Good times, good conversations. One of them casually asked if I like playing FIFA. I nod in agreement "Yep, and I'm pretty good at it too" and smile to myself thinking about all those hours I played back at home. That's the end of that topic, I thought.
"Really? How about we play some at your place after this beer?" says this newly found friend. I didn't see that coming. What was concerning was that grin on his face, the "just you wait and watch" kinds.
Never even done that before. I mean, don't get me wrong- I've hung out with friends outside and met up for a beer. But inviting someone I barely know to play FIFA with me in my living room just one on one? This was like taking things to a new level.
"Sure, let's do this" had to be said. And an hour later, we find ourselves with a controller in our hands, and in front of the TV.
"Who the hell does this guy think he is?" I want to make this quick and show him where he belongs, outside.
This is my living room, my Playstation and MY domain: That's what I am talking about.
He selects a familiar team, and I go with my all time favourite 'Manchester United'.
Game time: Not like I knew the players by name, nor had I ever even seen them play on TV, but this was the team I would always use back at home and show my friends how ruthlessly I score.
But hold on, this dude's doing something different here. In a few minutes, I feel like I've seen stuff that I never thought existed in FIFA. And in a minute after that, he scores.
Silence. The only words I could find to say were "How.. how did you do that?"
Along the course of the match, I found my players running around like headless chickens, like the start of the movie Lagaan. But this guy was quick, accurate and had a plan. I kept asking him the same question again and again "How did you do that" and he only kept smiling. That same Jimmy's café grin. How the fuck did I get myself into this.
"Rematch" happened, and another one after that. Same result.
More than the scorelines, what I found really embarrassing was when he would pause the game to give me advise. "Dude, you should build your game play. Use more of through balls".
I pretend to understand, but I'm thinking to myself : "What the fuck are through balls?!"
There had to be an explanation to this madness. In a few games, I felt robbed off all the credit that I gave myself for being a good player. This felt was worse than Dexter going back to the drawing board. Atleast, I didn't have an annoying DeeDee to laugh at me- Thank god for that.
This was not over. I sucked it up, and kept in touch with this guy who showed me that FIFA was not just a game, it was an identity in itself that you need to learn, understand and live with.
The next morning, I messaged him over Whatsapp. "Hey there. Need to ask you something. What's a through ball?"
Girls, if you think the best way to impress a guy is through cooking, or a fancy dress- think again. I'm sure most guys would agree to this one code of life: