Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five misguided statements that we basketball gamers are prone to making.
It’s a rare fanbase indeed that isn’t outspoken in some regard, and basketball gamers are no exception. That certainly isn’t a bad thing, of course. Whether it’s positive or negative, constructive or snarky, there’s satisfaction and catharsis in expressing yourself and sharing experiences with your fellow basketball gamers. With open lines of communication to the people creating the games, we also have an opportunity to influence their development for the better. Bottom line, a passionate and enthusiastic fanbase is always going to have something to talk about, and an assortment of strong opinions.
As a community, we have a lot of insight into basketball games, and some great ideas about the experiences that we’d like to get out of them. However, that doesn’t mean that our opinions are above the influence of bias, cynicism, or occasionally even selfishness. Logic and reason gives way to passion and emotion, and we make declarations that are definitely wide of the mark. Whether we’re criticising a game, defending a game, advocating a particular gaming style, or making sweeping declarations about the hobby, we basketball gamers are prone to making some misguided statements from time to time. Statements such as…
1. “Basketball Game X has problems, but Basketball Game Y is worse!”
These days, this usually takes the form of “NBA 2K may have issues, but it’s still way better than NBA Live!” While this is a fair evaluation, the erroneous underlying suggestion is that NBA Live’s problems somehow invalidate criticism of NBA 2K. When it comes to disappointment and frustration with NBA 2K, NBA Live’s well-documented problems are, quite frankly, irrelevant. The problems in one title don’t justify, excuse, or lessen the impact of problems in the other. Acknowledging NBA Live’s struggles doesn’t fix issues with NBA 2K, nor alleviate any of the frustration that they cause. Those are two valid, but entirely separate conversations.
This isn’t exclusive to basketball gaming, of course. We’re prone to protesting “but what about…” in all sorts of situations. Take speeding tickets, parking fines, and other such traffic violations. We grumble that everyone else is doing it, or that there are more serious offences being committed, but it doesn’t change the fact that we were in the wrong, and penalised accordingly. In the case of the two major basketball games, I guess you could argue that it’s keeping certain things in perspective. More often than not, though, it’s a fallacious, defensive, knee-jerk reaction to criticism that is no less valid just because the other game has problems that may or may not be worse.
2. “I don’t care about that.”
On the surface, this is a fair stance. Not every single mode or feature is going to appeal to every single basketball gamer. However, what might be a minor annoyance or non-issue for one person could well be a major complaint for someone else. The issue here is not that we all have different points of view; it’s that it’s all too easy to be dismissive of each other’s differing tastes and opinions. It makes sense that we’re all more concerned about the issues that matter to us the most, because we ultimately make decisions based on our own preferences and level of satisfaction. Of course, that can easily turn into “I don’t care, therefore it’s not important.”
Just because something isn’t important to you, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t or shouldn’t be important to someone else. It’s an attitude that quickly devolves into the same tired arguments about the “correct” way to play, and who the most knowledgeable or “true” fan/basketball gamer really is. We all have different preferences and priorities, which is something we need to keep in mind and account for when we’re compiling feedback on basketball games. If you don’t care about a particular mode or feature, that’s fine. We can all focus on what matters the most to us and advocate for it, without standing in the way of other people’s enjoyment, or shouting down their feedback.
3. “Why don’t you care about this?”
In short, this is basically the same attitude, only it’s coming from the opposite angle. Just because something is very important you, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be just as important to everyone else. As noted above, everyone has different tastes, preferences, and expectations. What outrages one basketball gamer may not be a major point of contention for another. This is especially true if you have a very specific way of playing basketball games, and thus different priorities to someone who doesn’t share that niche approach. It’s easy to become myopic about our biggest complaints and desires, and feel frustrated that others don’t share our opinions.
While that may just be human nature, it unfortunately leads to being “that person”. You know who I mean: the person who just can’t stop mentioning the one issue that really bothers them, and somehow finds a way to constantly talk about it at length. Like the person who makes a point of not caring, they’ll end up sneering at the criticisms of other basketball gamers, while at the same time demanding that the importance of their complaints be acknowledged. In basketball gaming – as in life – it’s more than a tad hypocritical to expect others to care about what matters most to you, while at the same time refusing to care about what matters most to other people.
4. “I bought the game! I can do what I want!”
Needless to say, everyone should enjoy basketball games the way they want, and basketball games should ideally cater to gamers of different tastes as much as they possibly can. However, this particular argument is often made in defense of using hacked players online, and that’s where the sentiment becomes misguided. Hacking single player game modes in basketball titles is your own business, but when other gamers are involved, you’re affecting the quality of their experience. Besides, the EULA and online terms and conditions are pretty clear about this, and by purchasing and playing a game, you’re consenting to be bound by that agreement.
From an ethical and philosophical point of view, it’s also a misguided assertion for one simple reason. After all, the people who oppose the use of hacked players online? They paid for the game too, and if that’s all it takes to validate your stance, then guess what: their stance is just as valid! Furthermore, they do actually have the EULA and the concept of sportsmanship on their side, so their case is much stronger. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a poor defense for cheating online. It’s a childish argument when it comes down to it, as it’s basically another way of saying “I’m a paying customer; I can do whatever I want!” Quite simply, that isn’t the way the world works.
5. “What’s the point of giving feedback? Nothing changes!”
If you’ve been playing basketball games for a number of years, you’ve probably grown weary of recurring legacy issues, and frustrated over a lack of satisfactory improvement in the areas that matter the most to you. As I discussed a few weeks ago, it’s very easy to get burned out on discussing potential improvements or putting together detailed suggestions and feedback, especially when it feels like it doesn’t have any impact whatsoever. Once your patience has worn thin, it’s difficult to prevent exasperation from giving way to cynicism, at which point you become the person who spends more time making snarky remarks than constructive suggestions.
It’s understandable, and many of us have been there. However, we’re letting cynicism get the better of us when we do that, and it leads us to forget one simple fact. Approaching developers with our ideas or putting them out there in public forums and on social media is no guarantee that they’ll have the impact we want, but if they remain in our heads, we can guarantee that they’ll remain unheard. We have seen changes and additions through the years demonstrating that developers are paying attention to feedback. It’s not going to be to everyone’s satisfaction, but that’s why we must keep speaking out. We’ve everything to gain, and nothing to lose by doing that.
None of us are perfect. It’s impossible to always remain cool, calm, and collected when basketball games frustrate us, or when we clash with someone who also holds strong opinions. Of course, if you’re trying to shut down any criticism, or justify ruining someone else’s good time…well, freedom of speech may be on your side, but logic and reason most likely are not. In any case, that’s all for this week; feel free to have your say in the comments section, or in the NLSC Forum! Thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.