Friday, June 06, 2008

Creating a sport is an extremely difficult enterprise. You need rules that are fair, activities that are challenging, but not so challenging that absolutely no one can do it, while at the same time separating the very best, from the merely-good-enough-to-play. A good sport is both fun and interesting to play, and fun and interesting to watch. Of course, if you really want to see how difficult it is to create one, try it yourself, or watch TV, books and movies attempt it. Fresh from wiki's always amazing list of fictions things ("games" in this case), here are some interesting attempts.


Okay, one of, if not the most famous fictional sport, from everyone's favorite world of wizards, JK Rowling makes a fatal mistake in the creation of a fictional sport: explaining the rules. Why is this a mistake? Well, mainly because they invariably don't make sense, and make the sport look even stupider than it already sounded. Without giving rules, the game may actually look cool. Now, of course, though I have not verified this, I think I can safely say it's the only fictional sport whose wikipedia page lists a number of ancient sports from which the modern version of Quidditch was developed.

Playability Test: Unless you can fly, plus have one "golden snitch" (a small golden ball the size of a walnut), two "bludgers" 10 inches of spherical iron, and a "quaffle," a 12 inch sphere (quidditch must to my knowledge also be the only wiki page for fictional sports with dimensions for all of its balls), all of which you can bewitch to fly as well, you're not playing this one.

Is it a good sport?: Well, the main problem with Quidditch is similar to the main problem with Family Feud - the end is worth so much, that it renders most of the game meaningless. Whoever captures the golden snitch gets the equivalent to 15 regular goals, which are normally scored one and a time by (please forgive me Harry Potter nuts if I am screwing this up) throwing the quaffle through some sort of hoop. Imagine if whoever scored the last touchdown in a football game got 105 points. That's what it's like.


Oh, video games have fictional sports often. Anyone who played Final Fantasy X knows the frustrations of being required to play one game of blitzball (and anyone who doesn't is now being introduced to it), essentially a type of underwater water polo. Basically, there are six players on a team, and the goal is through a combination of kicking and hand passing to get the title ball into the opponent's teams goal. To hinder one's opponent, you may tackle, much as you would in football (either kind, I suppose), though these tackles, if executed correctly can poison, cripple, or knock your opponent unconscious (though I guess two of the three can happen on football, also).

Playability: Well, you'd need to be able to breathe underwater. However, with some scuba technology, this game would not be totally infeasible - maybe particularly flexibility suits could be made, since less oxygen would be needed, and pressure is not so much of an issue. So maybe.

Is it a good sport?: Certainly not if you're playing the video game. Could it be? In theory, I suppose, it's kind of like a revved up version of water polo. So, that's cool - it's certainly a real sport, and people play it sometimes, so there's credit to be given for that. However, if you're like me the only thing you know about water polo is the blood in the water match, so I'm not sure it's going to pull the ratings it does in the FFX world.

Ahh, finally a sport with absolutely no rules. From Futurama, Blernsball, some distant cousin of our 20th (and 19th and 21st) century sport baseball, first appears in the episode "Fear of a Bot Planet" in which Fry first sees the sport, and the rules pretty much make no sense, which I suppose is kind of the point; Bender describes it as a "jazzed up" version of baseball. The Futurama Encyclopedia seems to explain it best, nothing that "Players hit a ball on an elastic tether that is thrown, or "pitched," to the batter. Fielders try to prevent the ball from entering small holes in the field, which score blerns. Basic rules such as the strike zone and outs seem to remain the same as their ancient counterparts. " Interesting

Playability: Hard to say, as the rules are unclear, but I think we need to invest blerns first. I suppose in theory though, we have the technology - we have elastic, and we can create small holes in a field.

Is it a good sport? Well, again, hard to say as the rules are very unclear, but I find it hard to believe it could improve upon baseball. That said, I'm at the least intrigued, so we'll leave this one undefined, waiting upon either the actual invention of blernsball, or another futurama episode containing it.


The two sports played in different eras of Battlestar Galactica, I'll focus on Pyramid, the name of the sport in the new version, which is pretty much a jazzed up version of Triad at the old one. There are three triangular walls with baskets kind of put sideways into holes in the walls, and players must throw the pyramid ball into these holes to score. In addition, the newer version " includes triangular fields located symmetrically on the ground, their sides approximately one meter long. These are the 'safe' fields. Whenever a player touches such field with a ball, no attempts to take it away from him can be made." Apparently it is like basketball in that it can be played either 1 on 1 or 3 on 3 (maybe 5 on 5 as well?).

Playability: Totally playable - no reason I couldn't buy some items from Home Depot today and start working on my own pyramid court. Maybe I should.

Is it a good sport? Hard to say - I really need to see it in use. Again, this seems like a situation where a show takes an existing sport, basketball, and tries to change it just enough to be a new sport, though I suppose it's really just as close to any sport with goals, and there's no dribbling. In theory, it could be entertaining, it's just hard to tell if it would pass the tests of fairness, and the right amount of challenge. I'll wait to judge 'til my court is assembled.

1 comment:

waldinho said...

Although they are not technically fictional sports, this post made me think of Trangle-Ball and dehatto.

Can you please review them for me?