I don’t want to say that this is a game for old people, don’t get me wrong, but well, it’s kind of like that. I don’t want to exclude anyone, I don’t want to categorize, but if you’re a man in your forties and had a PC or Amiga in the 90s, then unfortunately, I must say it – this game is probably for you.
What did we play back then? There was Mortal Kombat, there was Doom, there was Civ, there were hugely popular Pinball games, and there were many more. On the one hand countless games, on the other hand, we could name most of them today, there were dozens of them, but certainly not thousands like there are now. One of the iconic genres of games was Football Managers. I myself played a Bundesliga manager on my PC, which was initially created for the Amiga.

This was one of those games for which I really stayed up all night. One of those games, alongside Civ, for which you played just one more turn, one more season, one more transfer. It’s that title that made me a reasonable father, and when my son stayed up all night playing video games in recent years, I only shook my finger threateningly, but inside I was applauding and congratulating him. I’m proud of you, son, I thought. I played Football manager all night long when I was your age too.
Eleven, which is just hitting the US market, is a faithful adaptation of the football managers from the 90s. You pick up the manual, you browse through the pages, and feel right at home. Here you choose a sponsor – for the boards or jersey, here you build additional seats for the fans, here you choose the team’s formation, here you transfer a star player to the team… Everything is just like it was in those games from the 90s.
However, Jansen, the creator of Eleven, has not only managed to perfectly capture the spirit of computer managers, not only has he replicated the balance of managing a budget and team form, the insane dance between investing in a larger stadium and better players, and at the same time paying all those salaries and other end-of-month costs, but he has gone two steps further.
The first element that those old games did not have is club staff. This includes the medical team, fitness coaches, press office workers, psychologists, and the whole army of people working day in and day out in the club’s offices. The youth coach allows you to develop a strategy for training young players. The steward ensures that the stands are always full. The agent allows you to choose from the best players. The deck of 36 staff members is an ocean of cool choices, strategies, and a new layer of fun in the good old manager game.
The second step is scenarios. Gameplay in a computer football manager varied with the team, varied when our star striker got injured, and when we lost a match, but let’s be honest, it was generally the same thing over and over again – home game, money, away game, loss, home game, money, away game, draw, injury, home game…
Jansen is a storyteller. Jansen took his passion for football, specifically club football, of lower leagues – those small pitches, muddy fields, small budgets, tough choices, spectacles for a handful of loyal fans without cameras, and sometimes without floodlights, because there was no money for electricity. Jansen took these stories from lower leagues and built six unique scenarios for solo games. Here, for the first time in history, you’ve promoted a local club to a higher league, and the management’s only request is for you to stay there, no matter how, no matter in what style, but to last until the end of the season among the best. In another scenario, you’ll have a classic task – to be higher in the table than your local rival. Win the derby and be at least one place higher than them in the table. If they are in 20th place in the table, the management will forgive you even for 19th place. Just higher than the local rival… There are six of these scenarios, each telling a classic football story. You open the box and your hands tremble, you don’t know which one to start with, each one is insane. This is the step, the leap, by which Jansen took our beloved manager from the ’90s and turned it into something sensational.
I don’t want to say that it’s a game for old people. I don’t want to exclude anyone. I don’t want to discourage younger people from playing Eleven. I love all female geeks who love board games, football, and Portal Games. But I’ll say this – if you’re a man over forty and in ’93 you spent nights in front of a computer, you must buy Eleven and let yourself be carried away on a nostalgic journey down memory lane. Because believe it or, Jansen has built the first functioning time machine in the world.