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Monday Tip-Off: Hey, That Meme Looks Familiar!

Monday Tip-Off: Hey, That Meme Looks Familiar!

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on encountering a familiar image in a meme, and other moments of recognition.

It’s good advice to be careful about what you put out there on the internet. We’re not always as anonymous as we think, and poor behaviour can come back to haunt us. In general, it’s prudent to exercise caution in sharing personal information and even photos, as it can compromise one’s safety. It’s something to keep in mind when you’re a content creator, even in a niche community. Someone with an axe to grind may be petty enough to use it to directly harass you, or talk trash about you elsewhere online. I’ve encountered both during my time running the NLSC.

On a lighter note, when it comes to the content you create for one and all to see, you never know where it will end up. It’s both exciting and humbling when something gains traction, as my article on the Rising Cost of MyCAREER did last year, or when your work is referenced, as a WhatCulture video did with a post about NBA Elite 11. On the other hand, it’s funny when parts of your content end up being recycled, or shared outside of the original context. In particular, I’ve seen some of my screenshots show up in other articles, or on social media. And, speaking of the latter, there’s one familiar screenshot that has been used in a meme shared by several accounts.

If you follow those accounts, or anyone who shares their content, this meme will look familiar. It’s a screenshot from the early stages of NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, musing about the weirdness of DJ’s back story. It certainly catches my eye whenever it pops up, because it’s a screenshot of my MyPLAYER in the role of DJ, lousy face scan and all! I can prove it, because I still have the original full size version of that screenshot that I cropped for use in articles. Whoever created that meme has obviously Googled NBA 2K18 MyCAREER, having remembered the silliness of the tale. Many of our images come up in Google searches, so it’s no surprise if they found it that way.

NBA 2K18 MyCAREER Meme

I’d suggest a few people have stumbled across screenshots from my articles or our various game portals over the years. Some of my other MyCAREER screenshots have shown up in YouTube thumbnails. I’ve seen people illustrate their point on Twitter using a screenshot that was originally from one of my articles. I’ve seen other articles use a screenshot that I took and posted here on the NLSC as part of our commentary on and coverage of basketball games. In short, whether it’s a meme, an article, or a thumbnail, I’ve been left thinking “Hey, that screenshot looks familiar!” more than a couple of times over the years. With that in mind, is it something I’m angry about?

Honestly…no! From a copyright standpoint, I have no leg to stand on. When it comes down to it, the screenshots come from products that aren’t my intellectual property. I’m guessing use of my screenshots would come under the same fair use laws that also protect my rights to take them in the first place, so it would be a waste of time and money (that I don’t have) to pursue frivolous legal action. Beyond that though, I’m not in a position to get mad about it. I’ve put that content out there without restrictions or identifying watermarks. If someone finds those screenshots and recycles them in a funny meme, I don’t mind contributing to that, even if I’m not directly involved.

Even when it comes to using my screenshots in articles on other sites, I’m not too bothered by that. Frankly it would be hypocritical, as I myself have recycled images that I’ve found online, including stills from official trailers and whatnot. I generally prefer to take my own screenshots, but that hasn’t always been feasible, as I’m sure it isn’t for content creators that have used screenshots that I took. It’s just not worth getting upset over. Mind you, I’ve endeavoured not to borrow screenshots from any creator/entity that’s smaller or less known than the NLSC. Not everyone who is bigger than us has extended the same courtesy when borrowing some of our screenshots.

DJ & Ronnie 2K In NBA 2K18 MyCAREER

Those are the times when I wish I’d watermarked a screenshot, or that they’d given us a mention, as it could’ve been good exposure for the site. There’s nothing stopping me from doing the former of course, and yet it’s something I don’t bother with. So again, on top of borrowing screenshots myself, I’m in no position to get mad about it. It’s not like a mod that’s been stolen and passed off as someone else’s work, or if one of my articles had been plagiarised. It would also be different if a screenshot was being used to insult me or my content, as that wouldn’t be using it constructively. And I say that knowing there are a couple of petty people out there who might be inclined to do this!

While it can be surprising to see a familiar screenshot pop up elsewhere, it’s hardly akin to people whose photos ended up becoming a meme. Even if you’re talking about screenshots of my MyPLAYER, it’s either a face created using the in-game tools, or a scan that doesn’t really look like me when it’s all said and done. Incidentally, this isn’t done to hide my likeness, though I’m not in the habit of posting a lot of photos of myself in public spaces anyway. I’ve just rarely had good results when trying to scan my face in NBA 2K, and have seldom bothered trying since the last time I got it to work. Appropriately, that was in 2K18, with the MyPLAYER in that familiar meme.

As I noted, it is a pleasant surprise (and certainly appreciated) when our content is reused or referenced in a way that gives us credit and some free promotion. The aforementioned WhatCulture video that talks about copies of NBA Elite 11 selling for astronomical prices is an example of that. Of course, the downside there is that at a certain point, the screenshot of the NLSC they used will be outdated following design changes, and not show the site after it’s been spruced up. It stands as a time capsule though, and I certainly appreciate them giving us a shout out. I’m also pleased I was able to provide a source of information, as that’s absolutely a goal that I strive for.

Kobe Bryant Dunking in NBA Live 2003

Out of curiosity, I ran a Google Image search for “NBA 2K18 MyCAREER” to see if my screenshot was one of the top results. As it turns out, it is on the first page, and is one of the few from The Prelude stages of the story that’s a straightforward screenshot and not a YouTube thumbnail. As I mentioned, it was cropped for use in my “Saga of DJ” Wayback Wednesday article, which is why the blown up version in the meme is of lower quality. In addition to its prominence in the search results, as egotistical as it sounds to say, I think they picked a good screenshot for that meme. DJ standing there with agent Bryan Lee’s card aptly sums up his incredibly unlikely road to the NBA.

I was interested to see if any of my other screenshots had turned up elsewhere. This article on Polygon looking at Kobe Bryant in video games throughout his 20-year career uses screenshots that I took for our NBA Live 2001, NBA Live 2003, and NBA Live 06 portals. In this case however, the article credits our screenshot galleries for the images, including a link to each of them. I do appreciate that, given Polygon is a much larger site than we are, and it’s not as though they used copyrighted images or photos. Indeed, it’s actually quite flattering to be used as a source for basketball video games, and I appreciate being credited, given that not everyone bothers to do that.

The only other screenshot that appears to have been repurposed for a meme is one from NBA 2K17, in which I’ve activated Orange Juice with Justice Young. Further Googling only brings up images here on the NLSC itself, and a quick glance at some NBA 2K and NBA meme accounts didn’t yield any other familiar images. As such, it appears that my only unwitting contributions to widespread memes are those two MyCAREER screenshots from NBA 2K17 and NBA 2K18, the latter complete with its subpar face scan attempt. And again, I’m not bothered by that. If anything, it’s been funny to see those familiar screenshots show up in a meme. Glad to be of service!

NBA 2K17 Orange Juice Activated

Also, this may be over-thinking the situation, but it’s nice to see how these memes resonate, whether it’s the couple that my screenshots have appeared in, or the many others that reference basketball video games. While there’s still a certain stigma that surrounds video games as a hobby, notions of them being “just for nerds”, or that gaming as an adult is a sign of immaturity and social ineptitude, are now becoming antiquated. Like many forms of entertainment that used to be considered niche and nerdy, they’ve become mainstream, and part of pop culture. At least a couple of generations have grown up both watching the NBA, and playing NBA video games.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising when NBA meme accounts make references to aspects of video games, and they’re immediately understood. Jokes about “the other user has disconnected” during a blowout in a real game, adding shot meters or Green Release and NBA Jam “On Fire” effects to footage, and nods to MyCAREER stories, will resonate with an overlapping demographic of gamers and basketball fans. Even just within the basketball gaming community, it can unite us. Poking fun at an aspect of gaming culture, or making B-Fresh the butt of running jokes, celebrates our hobby. It’s a moment of levity in a scene that can take itself too seriously, especially online.

If a couple of screenshots that I’ve publicly shared can contribute to that, then that’s cool. Obviously I’m always appreciative of any mentions of the NLSC as the origin of the screenshots – particularly those used in articles – as well as anyone who goes to the trouble of asking first. Courtesy and credit never goes astray. Considering how often we repurpose and transform other people’s work – especially in a modding community – it’d be hypocritical to be upset over seeing a familiar screenshot in someone else’s meme. I guess what I’m saying is if a screenshot of mine is perfect for a meme, unless I’m being personally insulted, I won’t be offended if you right-click and “Save As”.

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