I really can’t stand the weird instant disdain that a lot of gaming culture has for sports titles. They’re still seen as outsider titles, popular primarily with people who aren’t “real gamers” which is, of course, horseshit. They’re as valid as anything else and have been a part of the gaming landscape from the very beginning, considering Pong was a simple abstraction of tennis. It’s especially horseshit when you look at the kind of culture that’s built up around MOBAs and Fighting Games, which contains the same style of secret vocabularies and insider knowledge, only gamers seem to do this in a much more exclusionary and aggressive manner than any sports fans I’ve met.
But in my life I’ve been a somewhat typical geek. Team sports have held little-to-no importance to me, either in playing or following and, as such, I’ve had little experience of their games beyond the more “arcade” style titles such as Sega Soccer Slam. It also means that I know nothing beyond the absolute basics of most sports, so it put me in a strange position when trying to pick a game to get into. FIFA was where I had the most knowledge, simply due to the omnipresent nature of football in the UK, its damp musk hovering over the nation at all times, but that’s also the reason I actively cannot stand it, so that game was out of the question. Madden was where I had the least knowledge, the sport appeared to me as a sweaty puzzle of meat and I’d not ever looked into solving it and didn’t feel an inclination to. This left NBA 2K as the game where I had a very basic knowledge of the sport, but found some appeal in music culture and a vague sense that my interest could build.
So I picked up NBA 2K13, probably the highest regarded sports title in history when it was released, and settled in to play. First creating my custom player:
Then I headed straight into the rookie showcase match of the career mode, thinking it would be a good place to start.
It turns out I was wrong because, unfortunately, I am the worst NBA 2K player in the history of the world. My basic knowledge of the sport is as follows: Ball go bouncy to one end, no holdy the ball while running, throw ball in hole in air before angry beep tells you that you are a bad person for not throwing the ball. This, it turns out, is not sufficient to play the game. Rather than doing anything useful Lord of the Skeleton Horde meandered about the court, waved his hands, jumped to swipe at invisible bees and sometimes collapsed for no reason I understood. His rating plummeted as he completely ignored the man he was supposed to be covering who lead The Stars to a 92 point victory.
So I quit and went in search of a tutorial mode. After fumbling about in the menus for a little while I discovered it and proceeded to run through all 101 moves it wanted to teach me. This tutorial was, in procedure, fantastic. It had an excellent controller diagram that showed you exactly how things had to be done; it was quick, responsive and extremely thorough. Sadly I was still too stupid to actually get a lot out of it because while I now knew what buttons to press I had no idea where or when to do it, and thanks to the inherent vocabulary fans already know some words were still utter gibberish to me. Not that I blame the game for this, their audience is people who already know and enjoy basketball, not the brainless arse that I am.
So imbued with this knowledge of buttons, sticks, triggers and bumpers I restarted my career. This time I tried to cover the guy the game was BLATANTLY POINTING AT, which I had somehow not noticed the first time round, and it went a little better. We still lost miserably to The Stars but not quite so stunningly and I occasionally score points myself! There was one moment where I lost track of my guy and had him resolutely running into the stands but I’m chalking that up to colour blindness because I can.
Next came the pre-draft interviews! The draft is something I had heard about more as a concept in a non-wartime sense, mostly from social media friends, and I knew it had something to do with picking rookies for new teams. I hadn’t expected to actually play through interviews, which handily simulated the bluffing I was being forced to do. I gave milquetoast answers to questions I barely understood to scouts from teams I only knew existed thanks to renting NBA Jam for my Mega Drive. I must have said something right to the Boston Celtics since they drafted Lord of the Skeleton Horde as the 21st pick.
That’s as far as my journey into NBA 2K13 has gone so far. I’m determined to keep at it, but right now I’m still terrible enough that I’m surprised my player wasn’t dribbling entirely with his arse. What will become of me and Lord of the Skeleton Horde? Find out next time!
I really want to know what the picture is of. Did Sonic whip it out? If so there’s a billion deviantart accounts where he’s done that already.