Clive Thompson on why “Soccer” (sic) annoys merkins:
“…game design reflects the national soul. Americans are predisposed to enjoy games where the rules encourage lots of scoring. Soccer wasn’t architected that way, so Americans don’t like it. Baseball, basketball, and football, in contrast, were designed to allow for lots of scoring — and they are thus huge hits in America, a country obsessed with toting up manichean victories.
I seriously doubt Cannon and Lessner are even aware of the existence of ludology — the philosophy and design of play. But they have nonetheless illustrated precisely why ludology is such a powerful way to understand national cultures, and the differences between Americans and Europeans. It also helps you understand why the writers are so damn snarky, and their critics so correspondingly nasty: It’s because ludology is one of the most gut-level, passionate areas of philosophy, and play is so central to our identities. People can be tepid about whether or not they like a book or a movie. But nobody is is wishy-washy about play. A game either totally rocks or totally sucks, and there is no phase transition between the two.”