ChampMan media scandals "would be fun"

But real-life players would "sue us", says BGS.

The idea of a Championship Manager game stuffed with media scandals such as Wayne Rooney's recent prostitute fiasco has crossed creator Beautiful Game Studios' mind more than once.

"It's interesting you say it because it has been suggested internally and externally before," Roy Meredith, the studio boss, told Eurogamer. "Getting players caught with their pants down, driving bans - these things all happen. Money goes to the heads of players and you get all these allegations out there about certain things. There's the Rooney thing, there was the John Terry thing.

"The problem is, if you've got a piece of software that's working out random challenges within a game, all we want is for you to sign a player such as James Millner who plays for England who is tea-total and doesn't get involved in any scandal whatsoever (and I don't think he ever will because he's so fixated on football - he won't even play golf during the season because he's worried about spasms in his back) - all we need is for the game to come up with, 'James Millner caught in brothel, drunk and had been drink-driving,' and he'd sue us.

"It would be quite a fun game to do," Meredith added with a smile. "But we'd have to do it with false player names. And I think you'd have to go completely over the top and invent some really outrageous stuff."

Very Fantasy Football, he agreed, would be a very appropriate name.

But what about when the outrageous happens in real-life and Meredith - and most of the country - objects morally to the crime a footballer commits: can he remove that sportsman from the game?

"Could take a player out, but I wouldn't do it on moral grounds because it's not our place to be moral judges," he said. "If they're still legally allowed to play football then it's not our grounds to be. And as much as we all find racism abhorrent, everyone's got different moral allowances.

"I guess some people might even be forgiving of John Terry and just say it's one of those things, whereas others would find it pretty awful. That's all personal opinion and subjective. It would be very difficult for us to make those sort of [decisions]. Let's say a player has been involved in a nightclub fracas and got imprisoned for a couple of years, yes we would probably update the database at some point, because they're not playing - that's not our judgement.

"One thing you do have to be careful of," he expanded, "and it has happened a few times, is - not on a moral basis - when players die. There was Marc-Vivien Foe of Cameroon who died in an international game; there was Dani Jarque in Spain who died - Iniesta when he scored the World Cup final he had his name on his t-shirt. There's been about two or three players in Spain that have died. And what we need to do is, in the first instance, we can update the database, we remove those players. That's certainly more sensitivity than morality."

Meredith revealed that the real-life stars can be very sensitive to their virtual portrayal, particularly their statistics. He recalled phone calls to Beautiful Game Studios in which footballers would ask, "Why aren't my stats better?" Or, "We've had players visit us and they immediately look at their stats and compare them with other players and go, 'Haha! See, I am faster than him and I'm going to go and tell him,'" he said.

"You pass it on to research and they have the conversations. Normally they get a bit starstruck when any player rings up and they can charm their way out of it. But yes, you do get players like that.

"I don't think most star players would be bothered," Meredith shrugged, refusing to reveal any names (but conceding this was limited to "lower league stuff mostly").

Beautiful Game Studios has put the core Championship Manager PC series on hold. The audience was flagging and traditional boxed PC game sales are depleting. Instead, BGS signed a deal with Chinese online game operator Shanda for what will presumably be a ChampMan MMO. Plus, the studio is preparing the launch of its first built-from-the-ground-up iPhone Championship Manager game - previous instalments have been ports.

The latter game, Championship Manager 11, will be released - Meredith hopes - at the end of September.

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