Fan Film: An Alternative Reality – Football Manager

I attended Ole Gunnar Solskjær's testimonial in which he unsurprisingly came on as a substitute. In my ideal world, Berbatov , Solskjær and Juan Mata all retire from football and run a top notch delicatessen together.

Last year’s Football Manager [official site] documentary, An Alternative Reality, appeared on Steam’s video streaming service last night. The purchase is for streaming only, with no downloadable files available, and the standard price is £7.99 (there is a 30% launch discount at the moment). The documentary is already available on other digital video services, some of which do allow downloads as well as streaming, but its appearance on Steam caught my eye and I ended up watched it while cooking my dinner last night. Brief thoughts below.

As Pip recently reported, EVE Online’s great empires are set to be remembered in an actual book written by an actual journalist, and yet when the brains behind Football Manager decided to make a documentary about the enduring and often obsessive appeal of their simulation series, nobody so much as asked me to write an accompanying pamphlet about the rise and fall of my dribbling dynasties. Shocking. SEGA might have brought in the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjær to talk about the game’s appeal but you won’t be hearing about the time The Shakers dominated Barcelona on their own turf and won three English titles in a row.

Without the Ballad of Bury FC, is the documentary worth your time?

An Alternative Reality feels like a well-made special feature, the kind of thing that you’d be chuffed to find in the submenus of a much meatier film’s Blu-Ray menu. By choosing to focus on the game’s fans and its appeal, the film-makers tap into the recurrent idea that Football Manager is a game that consumes lives, as previously covered in book form, as well as in articles about divorce cases in which the series was cited.

The outlook here is brighter – a celebration, involving celebrity fans, rather than a serious investigation into the game’s appeal. There is an alternative Alternative Reality to be made about obsessive attempts to understand and outplay the game’s credible but arcane machinery. Graham has touched on the save-scumming lengths it drives him to.

I’d rather see a documentary about the making of the game. The gathering of stats and pockets of research around the world that feed into the enormous database. I’d like to know more about the deviations from and adherence to real life data. To be frank, I want the Football Manager equivalent of 2013’s best football book, The Nowhere Men. What would that look like? I don’t know and perhaps that’s why I want to see it.

An Alternative Reality looks almost exactly like I expected it to. It’s fine, but I’d feel far happier about it if it been a special feature on that Football Manager’s Nowhere Men Blu-Ray.


  1. Gothnak says:

    After finally taking the bankrupt Maidenhead on a run of wins to bring them into the Conf South playoffs, we got bought out and i survived the takeover. Huzzah, i thought, some money, a decent team and i can finally get out of this Division.

    Then follows a run of about 10 matches where my front line of strikers (25 goals amongst them) literally miss every single shot (including 1 on 1’s with keeper and open goals) they have and the only goals i score are from penalties and headers from corners from my defenders.

    When i’m losing matches 4-0 against teams that have a 20-1 chance of beating me, the whole game infuriates me, so i turned it off in fury again…

    Bloody game…

  2. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    You are my Solskjær, my Ole Solskjær.
    You make me happy when skies are grey.

    Ooops, sorry. Good old nationalism sprouting through the cracks there.

    • atticus says:

      He’s the perfect example of what will happen to you when playing Football Manager and not being able to match ambition with performance.

      One day you’re shaking hands with Jose Mourinho and getting ready to start a match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and then three months later you’re standing in the rain in some godforsaken Norwegian valley trying to encourage the new team you’re managing to win a game witnessed by a crowd consisting of 14 grandparents and two dogs. And the team you manage is your son’s U17-team. And you lose 7-1.

      • Premium User Badge

        Earl-Grey says:

        As any good citizen I am not prone to letting knowledge or rationality getting in the way of nationalistic behaviour.
        What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t tell you how many players a team has on the field in a foot-to-ball match without Googling it.
        Solskjær, Maradona and Beckham are the only foot-to-ball players I can list without Google.
        I only know that God damn chant because it was fucking everywhere for a while.

        • atticus says:

          I wasn’t trying to teach you a lesson about foot-to-ball, kjære landsmann, I was just pointing out the similarities in defeat and bitterness that exists both in foot-to-ball management and Football Manager – the bitterness that threatens to make save-scummers of us all.

          Apparently Ole Gunnar’s “cardiff_pre_season_14.sav” got corrupted, and now he’s living with the unfortunate consequences.

          • TomA says:

            haha top comment. Yeah I used to be a save-scummer but gradually grew out of it across the games, even when it’s heartbreaking, like my most recent Atalanta save, where a freak first season and some nifty tactics saw me challenge for the title only to lose it on the last game of the season to Juventus. I’ve been playing 14 for so long now, I’ve not been confident taking the plunge to 15 after reading the review posted on here and as any FM player knows there’s always unfinished business.

          • Premium User Badge

            Earl-Grey says:

            Ah! Save scumming, now I understand.
            Why didn’t you just say so?!

      • Eggman says:

        God has forsaken no Norwegian fjord.

  3. thedosbox says:

    Lovely alt-text on that image.