A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Oct 14, 2017

Real, Live Soccer Player Besieged With Requests To Play For Foreign Team Due To Video Game Error

Further blurring of the line between digital and physical reality. JL

Timothy Geigner reports in Techdirt:

So real have simulations become, that they can create real-world mishaps, as happened with a French soccer player Ruben Aguilar. The error indicated Aguilar was available for signing to the Bolivian team. This came about because of a single error in a popular sports simulation game. So sure was the public, and even a professional soccer team, that the information in the game was accurate that all of the above acted on that information.
Video games have been steadily becoming more realistic since their first creation. Conversations about this progress has mostly centered around graphical enhancements and tech such as virtual reality that strive to better immerse the player in the fictional world in which they play. But graphical and visual enhancements aren't the only form of realism in which video games have progressed. More unsung have been the enhancements in pure data and detail in these games. For this type of progress, one need only look to management-style simulations games, such as those of the sports realm. In games centered on managing sports franchises, the depth of detail that has emerged has become somewhat breathtaking. Baseball sims, such as the excellent Out of the Park series, are an example of this as is the equally deep Football Manager series for soccer fans.
So real, in fact, have these simulations become, that they can occasionally create real-world mishaps, as happened with a French soccer player named Ruben Aguilar.
As discussed in this inteview with Goal (in French), there's a mistake in last year's version of the life-destroying management game where Aguilar is incorrectly given dual citizenship of both France and Bolivia.
With tens of thousands of players in the game, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time, but the difference here is that it's turned into an international thing. Bolivian players of Football Manager noticed his supposed South American heritage last season, but a string of strong performances in the real world (especially against French giants PSG) this year have blown up to such an extent that he made the TV in Bolivia, with the country's national team management contacting him to inquire about the possibility of him playing for them.
The error here was such that it indicated that Aguilar was available for signing to the Bolivian team under the rules of international football. How the error came about is an open question, but the fact is that Aguilar's parents were French and Spanish and he holds no citizenship, or indeed even a passport, for Bolivia. Still, the Bolivian team heeded the calls from its fans to inquire about signing Aguilar, only to learn he was not eligible to play for the team. It's worth repeating that this entire episode came about because of a single error in a single popular sports simulation game. Aguilar himself was forced to respond to all of this on his Facebook page.
For the past few weeks, we have received dozens of messages concerning the nationality of Ruben. On Facebook and Twitter many information also circulate. In order to remove doubts; by this communiqué, we affirm that Ruben was born in Grenoble (France), of Spanish father and French mother. As a result, he does not have a Bolivian passport. In any case, we thank you for all messages of support and the enthusiasm aroused to see him wearing the jersey of ‘La Verde’. ¡Muchas Gracias!
It's a funny little story, with many folks now poking fun at both the Bolivian team for not doing its homework and Football Manager for making the seemingly inconsequential error to begin with. More interesting to me, however, is how this serves as an indication of how far video games have come in terms of the realism we expect from them. So sure was the public, and even a professional soccer team, that the information in the game was accurate that all of the above acted on that information.
That's actually kind of cool.

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