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Monday, February 27, 2012

Issue: Games: Second (More Successful) Life


The last two weeks have served as a great reminder as to why I stopped playing sports games in the first place. The trend in games, at some point, went from "control your favorite team" to "create yourself in the game and just control yourself". That's all well and good, but damn it is addicting.

Why is it addicting? Because I feel like a success when I play the game. I'll give you my two most current examples:

  1. NCAA Football - I made myself a Running Back, signed with the Stanford Cardinal, and was scurrying my way towards a Heisman Trophy in my Junior year when I finally pulled myself away. 
  2. NBA 2K12 - Here is where the big problem began. See, I love watching football, but I was never great at playing football. Get me on a basketball court, and my sweet jumper and natural passing ability brings out the "ooohhhs" and "aaaahhhhhs". It was only natural that the first thing I'd do upon making this game was to create myself as a white Jeremy Lin that could set the world on fire.
The NBA 2K addiction has the added "I could actually be doing this!" feeling, which is part of the reason it's stronger than my NCAA or NHL addictions ever were. However, the biggest part is everything that happens off-the-court. 

If I have a good game but we lose, I go into that post-game press conference ready to blast my teammates. If I have a good game and we win, I give snarky, sarcastic responses to the questions. Before the draft, I told the Pacers GM that I didn't want to play on his small-market team because I'm a superstar. 

When I eventually got drafted by the Knicks, I toiled away on the bench for weeks while they lost game after game before being put into the starting lineup and immediately guiding them to 7 straight wins. Then what happened? Well, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire decided that our entire offense should be "Give me the ball and get out of my way". The losses started piling back up, and I spent post-game press conference wondering why this team needed a PG to begin with. 

I eventually got frustrated enough that I demanded a trade, and was promptly sent to the wasteland that is Utah. In my first game, I was trying so hard to impress that I was forcing my game and ended up shooting about 15% from the field. Since then, I'm back up to around 50% and we've won 3 straight. Morale is good and we have a chance to go on a run and squeak into the playoffs.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it feels real. While I sit on my couch, getting fatter and forgetting about doing necessary things (taking showers, brushing my teeth, washing dishes, going to work, etc.), I feel like a success. I feel like Jeremy Lin, the talk of the sports world. I'm imagining herds of short white kids going into sporting good stores in Salt Lake City asking when my jersey will be available for them to buy.

I spent most of a sunny, beautiful Southern California weekend developing Carpal Tunnel on my couch and don't regret a single minute of it. Because the John in the game, the one that the Jazz traded Paul Millsap for(!) and the one that is turning the team around with his silky-smooth jumpshot and natural passing ability, is a success. No wonder people get sucked into MMORPGs.

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