We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on basketball gaming Twitter.
A common online refrain is that social media is one of the best and worst things to happen to the Internet. Of course, that same statement is made of the Internet itself, in regards to society at large. There’s truth in both cases, as the Internet and social media in particular have allowed people with similar interests to connect with one another, but the interactions aren’t always pleasant. Twitter gives everyone a voice, but not everyone uses that voice wisely, or responsibly. As Owen Good once noted, there’s a difference between having an opinion, and having a point.
The basketball gaming community obviously has a presence on Twitter, serving as a connection between hoops gamers who frequent a variety of platforms, including our site and Forum, Operation Sports, Reddit, and various publications that cover video games. It’s therefore an effective way of keeping up to date with the latest news, as well as sharing content of your own. When it comes to discussion and feedback, in my observation, it’s a mixed bag. There are knowledgeable people who post good ideas and advocate for games to get better, and there are others who add very little of value to the conversation. Mind you, that’s usually how it goes with Twitter.
Needless to say, Twitter can be very useful to the basketball gaming community. As recounted when we discussed our NBA 2K21 Wishlists in Episode #308 of the NLSC Podcast, it provides us all with access to the developers, regardless of whether we’re a YouTuber with thousands of subscribers, or just one of many who play the games and have constructive feedback to share. Dee4Three’s story of how Beluba noted and later implemented his suggestion regarding camera angles is proof that developers do listen to well thought out and respectfully phrased feedback, even if you’re not a big name “influencer” with the kind of audience game developers love to tap into for exposure.
It also helps to be connected with your fellow basketball gamers. Twitter is a platform where we can support and share each other’s content, help each other out with advice, and collaboratively brainstorm suggestions on a platform the developers are keeping tabs on. As with boards like the NLSC Forum, it’s a way to virtually meet people with similar interests, have discussions, and to an extent, socialise; it is social media, after all. When we’re connected with each other, we can feel a sense of community (and unity) as far as feedback and standing up for ourselves as consumers. We don’t have to feel as isolated, either as individuals or an assortment of cliques.
Of course, that sense of community and unity is easier said than done; the old idiom about “herding cats” comes to mind. Social media is often derided for the toxic atmosphere and attitudes it can cultivate, and sadly, basketball gaming Twitter is as susceptible to that issue as any other community. Anyone can jump into what is an unmoderated discussion with hot takes, insults, myopic suggestions, and so on. It’s where you’ll see asinine tribalism regarding game modes (“Who plays MyTEAM, anyway?”), conflicting suggestions about gameplay tweaks, a lack of civility when there’s a difference of opinion, and a whole lot of trolling that doesn’t help anyone.
As far as the overall quality of basketball gaming Twitter is concerned, it’s very much like NBA Twitter. There are generational divides and personal biases that result in bad takes and unnecessary hostility. There’s the aforementioned tribalism, advocating only for what one group of gamers is interested in while downplaying the importance of everything else. Good ideas and analysis can often be shouted down with thought-terminating clichés. There are also gamers standing up for everyone and advocating for improvements, or sharing great content that adheres to those principles. The most provocative and controversial Tweets tend to grab the most attention, though.
That last point in particular is a problem, because that’s where you get the so-called “clout-chasing”. I’m not saying that all influencers are bad, but there are some who are clearly more interested in revenue and freebies than advocating for the community. Basketball gaming Twitter seems to be where a majority of the “get good” and “you just suck/you’re just a hater” crowd hang out. We also see ridiculous drama, and the occasional digital marketer dumping on the community and putting their foot in their mouth over and over again. Unfortunately, these are the Tweets and discussions that get the most attention, overshadowing good conversation and constructive feedback.
In short, there’s a lot of muck that needs to be waded through. Additionally, compared to forums or a platform like Reddit, Twitter isn’t necessarily ideal for discussion. 280 characters isn’t always enough for a detailed post, and Twitter’s thread format can lead to thoughts appearing to be unfinished, or taken out of context because the follow-up Tweets go unread. Its openness and accessibility can be greatly beneficial, but it’s all too easy for good Tweets to be lost in a sea of abusive or misguided ones. We’ve seen developers driven off the platform due to personal attacks, and basketball gamers not wanting to engage because taking part in the scene can be unpleasant and exhausting.
Difficulty can also arise when personal matters and other topics that aren’t related to basketball gaming pop up in our timelines. While we may share a common interest – that being basketball video games – we may have very different views and beliefs. That’s just the way it goes, and generally speaking, we can get past some of those differences and just focus on our common interests. As with our basketball gaming opinions, there will be times when we can agree to disagree, or simply choose not to engage in order to avoid what may become a contentious discussion. It allows us to maintain a level of goodwill and civility with one another, which is important.
However, it can reach a point where that’s difficult, even impossible to achieve. It’s tough when a person you’ve connected with due to a shared interest – in this case, basketball gaming – also uses their Twitter to express views that you find quite objectionable, or follows and subsequently Likes and Re-Tweets people or content you vehemently dislike or disagree with. This usually goes beyond mere differences of opinion, though depending on how obnoxiously the person is acting, that may be an issue, too. It’s awkward when it’s a matter of fundamental beliefs and principles, and the person you followed for basketball gaming reasons starts pressing hot buttons.
Depending on how frequently outspoken a person is and just how objectionable their Tweets are, you may be forced to make a tough decision that on the surface seems anti-social, anti-community. When someone you follow on Twitter for basketball gaming reasons is expressing views that you find disturbing or abhorrent, and have no relation to the hobby, what do you do? Do you simply unfollow them, temporarily mute them or set up a filter, or outright block them? Given how toxic Twitter can be, those are all useful tools to avoid stress on the platform. It’s just a question of where the threshold is for each action, especially when you’re trying to form a community.
To that end, we all have to look after ourselves, and while we’re all entitled to our beliefs, it doesn’t mean other people have to listen. Furthermore, if someone says something bigoted, or has a habit of being nasty on social media, the fact that they share an interest and are part of the basketball gaming community shouldn’t matter if you’re fundamentally opposed to their sentiments and actions. Whether you mute, block, filter, or simply unfollow depends on the situation. Without naming names and causing drama, I’ve seen fit to distance myself from people who have posted some awful, hateful Tweets, and limit communication with anyone who’s been abusive.
And in all fairness, I’m sure people have unfollowed, muted, or blocked my account, the NLSC’s Twitter, or both, for personal reasons as much as anything else. In fact, I know they have. Sometimes it’s puzzling as I’m not one to get particularly political on Twitter – certainly not as far as outspoken Tweets of my own, at any rate – and much of my activity on my personal account is sharing NLSC content. It is what it is, and it’s a decision that we’re all entitled to make. It’s nice to build a community and be connected with fellow basketball gamers, but we’re not all going to be best friends. When someone starts talking about other topics, the situation can become contentious.
Where does this leave us? Well, if you’re a content creator in the basketball gaming community, Twitter is too big of a platform to ignore. If you’re just playing the games and consuming other people’s content, it’s a handy way of keeping up to date with the latest news, and connecting with creators and the developers of the games alike. The official NBA 2K MyTEAM Twitter also regularly shares Locker Codes, which are a great way of picking up free content and boosts. Sure, we can complain how much Twitter sucks, and it unquestionably has its problems, but it’s capable of being very useful. As long as basketball gamers and developers are there, it will be relevant.
Because Twitter isn’t a moderated platform, there’s always going to be some level of toxicity. It’s unfortunate, but considering the level of discourse that some topics invite, basketball gaming Twitter is far from the worst. My advice is use it to follow official accounts and other reputable sources, don’t be afraid to leave conversations that turn toxic, and be willing to distance yourself from people who are nasty and hateful, or talk about things you don’t want to hear more than they discuss virtual hoops. For distilled and moderated basketball gaming conversation, there’s always our Forum, the Operation Sports boards, and the official NBA Live and NBA 2K subreddits.