The joy of hattrick football manager

hattrick screenshotFirstly, a fact. Guys, in particular, enjoy football computer games. And luckily since 1997, the hattrick football manager game has provided players with joy and frustration in equal measure.

You’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of hattrick. Pre-2004 I certainly hadn’t. Only in the obvious sense that it means three goals scored by a player in a match.

This was until I found myself idly scrolling through a link posted to the game on my local football club’s fans’ forum. And from there on I began building a team.

Let’s face it, most fans take their football in any form. If not watching, playing or dissecting the real thing, we’re playing Fifa or Pro Evo. Desktop-based (also now with an app), hattrick actually began life in 1994 and a quarter of a century on, still neatly hold its place in the fantasy games landscape.

The game can take up as much or little time as you want it to. Put simply, you pick a line-up and play a couple of matches each week against managers from all over the world.

Match action centres around a match engine, based on algorithms. And if you’re a teacher in the UK, you’ll know not to trust algorithms. In my case, having a healthy mistrust of the match engine is a key factor in longevity.

Hard to get be an addict

Whereas you can get instant gratification from Fifa, hattrick football manager makes you wait for your entertainment. This is because it’s played in real-time.

With Football Manager you can churn through a season in a day and suddenly wonder where your teenage years have gone. This isn’t possible in hattrick, although you can still waste plenty of time scouring a transfer market or plotting the week’s tactics.

In the UK, teams play one league match per week (on Sundays) and a cup tie on Tuesdays if you’re skilled enough to remain in knockout competition. Friendlies take up the midweek slot for those of us dumped out the cups early.

This means that for the average user, the hattrick game doesn’t eat too much into your time and your better half can’t accuse you of being obsessed. Much.

But of course there are things to get hooked on.

Training players can be done from academy level, all the way to the top. It takes patience and time but is rewarding.

Some devotees will religiously train players to feature in their national team setup. You can train a player all the way to U20 through to the seniors. Anything too involved usually requires hanging out on forums, where expert hattrickers offer up the benefit of their vast game-playing experience.

Hitting the transfer market is always good fun, seeing where you can lodge your opening bid for the weird denomination of £667 for example.

There are many ways to play. Like all games, you’ve got your nerdy, studious managers, those who wheel and deal, train and train some more, in a bid to reach the top echelons of the game.

Others happily sit mid-table in a mid-level division, perhaps trying to plot victory in a cup competition.

Playing hattrick for fun or fame

In our current age of uncertainty, hattrick provides an outlet to take cover from real-life events. Not for this world, a lack of crowds and revenue streams for clubs down the football pyramid.

The nice thing is that the dreaded match engine can mess with even the best laid plans and nothing in hattrick can ever be 100% certain. Apart from the fact the match engine will make you scream at the screen.

A majority of hattrick’s thousands of users play purely for fun without getting too hung up about results and I guess that’s the beauty of it, and is partly why the game still continues today.

After all, as in life – how do you measure success? It’s entirely up to you. Success might be spending or stockpiling big money to get to the top. It could be seeing how far you can go in a cup.

Or it might be just ticking along and enjoying the interaction that the hattrick community brings. All these ways work.

So why not have a go and take on the challenge?

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