The creators of a computer game, that sees Northern Ireland leave the UK in a simulated version of life after Brexit, have been warned they are making “foolish” predictions.
The popular and highly detailed sports game Football Manager 2017 releases early next month but has come in for criticism from DUP MLA Gary Middleton over its simulation of the political landscape following Brexit.
The game sees players take on the complex world of football management, tactics, agents, big money contracts – and in a new feature this year players will have to negotiate their way around the Premiership post-Brexit.
Once players progress through a number of league campaigns they will be presented with one of a number of Brexit scenarios, one of which sees Northern Ireland leave the UK.
Another sees Scotland secede from the Union and yet another sees the creation of a united Ireland.
Miles Jacobson, studio director of the team behind the Football Manager series, Sports Interactive, confirmed the Northern Ireland scenarios on Twitter earlier this week as he answered fans’ questions.
He said the game could “predict” a united Ireland coming about in the years following Brexit but cautioned there was a “very small chance though – the smallest of all the options”.
Mr Middleton described the scenario as “odd” and warned the publishers they risked making “foolish” predictions.
He said: “I think it’s very odd. The problem with that is you’re going to get a situation where the game could turn out to be making foolish predictions.
“Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom is plain and simply not going to happen. Any poll taken recently would suggest that there is even less support. It just isn’t realistic.
“I will be interested to see what happens to the Northern Ireland team. Is there going to be just one team for all of Ireland in this scenario?”
Mr Middleton said that he would not discourage Football Manager fans from playing it but warned the game’s creators of the need for sensitivity around Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.
He said: “I know this game is very popular so I wouldn’t be telling people not to be buying it or anything like that, but these are sensitive issues, especially when it comes to Northern Ireland and our place within the United Kingdom. They need to be sensitive of that.
“They have to be mindful of the political situation and not be seen to be trying to stir people up. Sometimes with these games that is their purpose – to encourage discussion – and I wouldn’t want to be taking away from that but I don’t think that’s the case here and I do think they need to be careful around this whole issue.”