As a child, David Rutter was much like any other young boy growing up in England. His days revolved around football, the English Premier League and his beloved Leicester City, with his time split between school and the football pitch. "I used to dream about playing professionally," the 41-year-old said. "But looking at where I am now, you can tell I wasn't good enough to make it."
Failure to achieve his initial dream opened the door for Rutter to pursue his other passion: video games. For the last six years Rutter has been Executive Producer of the series of FIFA games that have enthralled gamers of all ages across the globe.
Frequently referred to as 'the brains behind the FIFA series' - much to his discomfort - Rutter chatted exclusively to FIFA.com during the Champions Trophy, at which EA SPORTS™ FIFA 14 was presented. He addressed the challenges that come with releasing the best football video game on the market, the changes additions made to the latest edition and much more.
FIFA.com: A lot of people must think you have the best job in the world as head of the FIFA series. What do you say to that?
David Rutter: I'm an extremely lucky man. Just like any football fan, I dreamed of becoming a footballer one day, but that was never going to happen for me. I've always loved video games, especially football ones. When I wasn't playing football myself, I was playing it on the console. I was fortunate enough to work as a football games tester for a while, which is something I never thought possible. That was already a dream job and now I've just completed my sixth year since moving to Vancouver to work on FIFA. I enjoy it a lot.
A new edition comes out each year, but football in real life is still the same. What challenges do you face when it comes to creating a new version?
Any time you watch a football match something different always happens, something you remember later. When we play FIFA a lot, we realise that sometimes we can't always replicate the things we saw at the weekend. So we draw up a list and start working on it. We're very lucky to be working with a sport that generates such huge interest that there's a never-ending supply of things to adapt.
Do you receive user feedback too?
There are millions of people who enjoy the game around the world and they're usually very active on social networks and like to express their opinions. They tell us a lot of things they like about the game, but above all, they tell us what they don't like as much, what frustrates them. We spend a lot of time listening to them, making notes of their comments and trying to apply them in the future.
A lot of people will be very keen to try FIFA 14. What's new in this version?
There are lots of improvements, and I'm very fond of some of them. For example, using the trigger [the top left button] now helps you shield the ball from an opponent. When you use the right button to run faster, you can tap the left one to stop and shield the ball with your body. That allows you to move more freely around the pitch without having to always look for a pass out to the wings.
There are plenty of other things too. The way of dribbling past an opponent is now more real and explosive while you're running. Depending on the situation, the action can become a lot faster and it helps you to adapt your game quickly. The new shooting mechanism will enhance things too. 'Pure Shot' allows you to perform certain actions before shooting and these make the shot more powerful and gives a very satisfying feeling of striking the ball. The way the ball moves is much more interesting and makes for some stunning goals.
What kind of relationship do you have with the contestants at the FIFA Interactive World Cup?
I know Bruce [Grannec] very well and I've played against him a few times. He's really good. I consider myself an above-average player, but I've been lucky enough to have tested this game for a year, while he's only tried it for a few minutes. That's an advantage, although he's too good for me.
Have you had any feedback from professional footballers?
Every so often a player complains that he doesn't have as many points as he thinks he should have [laughs]. We get that a lot, it's normal. I have to say, every time we have an event, stars and celebrities approach us to play the game, as they love FIFA. In this version we haven't had much of that yet because we still haven't officially launched it.
Finally, why do you not like being called 'the brains behind FIFA'?
Because I'm part of a big team, even if it is my face you see at this type of event. Every year our aim is the same: we want to make the best football game on the market. It's easy to say that, but it's difficult to do it, develop it, launch it and get people to like it. That's only possible thanks to the entire team we have in Vancouver. I've got no doubt that people will enjoy this game a lot. I hope they like it as much as we do.