Last year, I made a post about various sports and activities that can be done around Windemere. From what I can tell, I never went into any advice or tips or comedy about how to design fictional sports. One reason is because I don’t really know what I’m doing here. Another is that nobody asked. The third is that I didn’t consider it until now when I was looking for a post idea. So, here we go!
(Side Note: My first time uploading a video clip that isn’t from YouTube. Got it off Vimeo and there was a download option. Watch this backfire.)
- It helps to base it off something real. This can be a professional sport like baseball or a game like tag. Others take an even easier path by taking a real activity and adding tons of extras too it. For example, take racing and put in weapons, obstacles, and death to create Deathrace. This method happens a lot more than people realize.
- Make a clear set of rules that is explained when the characters first watch or play the game. This has to include scoring, techniques, defense, penalties, equipment, and maybe a little history. Once all of that is done, you demonstrate how the heroes can get around the rules without actually cheating. If not that then a bunch of ‘bad guys’ openly cheat without getting caught and the heroes manage to win by sticking to the rules, which makes very little sense when you say it out loud.
- Never forget that tension is important even in sports. A way to accomplish this is creating a system that has back and forth. Sudden Death rounds being the only way to play can make a scene quick, but you don’t get a lot of oomph from it. A great example of how to do this is Quidditch, which I probably spelled wrong. Yes, there’s that way to win with one act, but most of the game has a back and forth that can be used to create tension.
- Uniforms make the team. Seriously, it gets confusing for the players if everyone is dressed differently. Gets even weirder if you have the heroes in regular clothes and the other team in uniforms. It really isn’t that hard to do either. Shirt, pants, and shoes are the basics. Headgear and pads if need be. Add a cape if you want there to be a lot of choking to death. Seriously, who wears a cape in a sporting event?
- If this sport is going to be popular then you need to create fans and have people talk about it in passing. Even those who don’t watch football, baseball, and basketball know they exist. A hero can be a fan of a certain team or another could have played it in school or tried to go pro, but failed. You can create some famous players that appear in a few scenes as background or minor encounters. There are various ways to subtly add this part of the world building. Also unsubtle by having giant arenas in some of the big cities, which can double as action scene locales.
- Come up with a catchy name. Then again, many sports seem to have ‘ball’ in the most, so you can keep it simple.
- After putting in so much work, you need to do something with it. Video games use mini-games and side quests. Movies and TV shows have events as background scenes or meeting places. So, what can books do? There’s both options that you can go with, but also a third. Short stories that involve the sport. This flushes out the creation and adds to the world-building. You create a synergy (ugly word) where the sport and the world build off each other to give a new facet that can be used for other stories. After all, everyone likes entertainment and sports are one of the most common.