In North America, you tend to have four major sports that the majority of fans associate themselves with: basketball, American football, baseball and ice hockey.
Whilst the first three are quite evenly divided in terms of their fanbases, the latter always tends to fall through the cracks for one reason or another.
Of course, there are still millions of people that tune into games on a weekly basis, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being ‘fun’ for the casuals. Aside from the fact that there’s no worldwide appeal to speak of, there also isn’t really a marketing system in place that allows for the NHL to broadcast their players as being ‘superstars’.
But that’s another conversation for another day because instead, we want to discuss the actual enjoyment factor of watching a game in its entirety. There never really seems to be any kind of skill involved aside from a ‘hit and hope’ mentality, and even when you’re live in person there’s a chance of fights breaking out every two minutes.
— #NHL18 (@EASPORTSNHL) October 18, 2017
That wouldn’t be a bad thing if we were attending a UFC or Bellator event, but we’re not. The fact that it’s condoned is enough to put us off the live action experience, and whilst the atmosphere is often impressive, it’s not enough to warrant ice hockey being called an ‘enjoyable’ sport.
When it comes to viewing it from afar on a television screen, there’s one glaring issue that nobody seems eager to admit: we can barely see the puck. Honestly, how are you supposed to enjoy watching a game where you can’t even see what’s happening?
Plus, and we understand this is true for the majority of other sports in that region, the seasons are just too long. When there are so many games to keep up with it’s like a marathon of viewing, and it makes the first half of the season virtually redundant.
Why are we supposed to remain invested when the majority of these showdowns don’t even matter? Sure, there’s the outside possibility of a season-ending injury that keeps people enticed, but we aren’t all too fascinated with that.
When it comes to the NHL video game series, however, the majority of these issues are wiped off the board. You can clearly see the puck throughout your playing experience, you’re able to create new and interesting tactics in order to find fun ways of scoring, and you can decide how long the games are so that you can suit your own needs.
The virtual version of ice hockey allows you to create your own narrative. In anyone’s mind ice hockey is almost below soccer at this point in terms of relevance in the States, but in terms of gameplay, it becomes so much more than that.
One becomes immersed with how different it is in comparison to the basketballs and baseballs of the world, and in truth, it actually feels a lot more similar to things like FIFA and association football.
Sure, that may only really appeal to Europeans and South Americans, but it’s something worth noting and it’d be interesting to see some kind of comparison between these two variables as we move forward.
If you don’t believe us, get out there and see how much slap-shotting a puck across a virtual rink can be.