Roger and I have played every conceivable computer/console basketball game for as far back as I can remember. Name it, we probably played it: Konami’s Double Dribble (1986), Lakers vs. Celtics (1989), the NBA Live video game series (1995-2010), and most recently the NBA 2k series. Game play—I’m sure you will agree—has moved from the simplistic, comedic, and impossible to a more dynamic, serious, and realistic tone. Gone are the proficient half-court “I’m-facing-my-opponents-basket-and-my-shot-will-still-go-in,” heaves of Double Dribble and the peculiarly successful NBA Live Steve Nash 93-foot lobs to either a streaking Amar’e Stoudemire or Shawn Marion. Today’s game attempts to mirror their real life basketball counterparts, rewards team play, and takes the entire gaming experience to a different level.
The Action gamer versus the Statistical oriented player
In sports games such as these, two gamer types emerge: the ‘action gamer’ (AG) and the ‘statistical oriented player’ (SOP). My definition of an action gamer is one who is in it purely for the entertainment value. More often than not, you will see them always go for a highlight play such as a fancy assist, killer crossover, or a rim-rattling dunk. They are unconventional and willing to risk everything at any given moment—especially for the buzz that comes with that winning last-second highlight play. Remember that early 90’s Seattle Supersonics game wherein “The Glove” Gary Payton threw an ill-advised lob to the “Reign Man” Shawn Kemp? A lob, which ultimately cost them the game in the dying seconds of regulation? That my friends, in its purest form, is an action gamer play.
As for a statistical oriented player, these gamers can be described as basketball purists who—while using their favorite players or teams—find joy in statistical accomplishments. If the AG lives for the highlight play, the SOP lives for the challenge of the next play. Whether it is working on that next triple-double, executing a set play to perfection, or setting a new season, career, or all-time record, the signature qualities of a statistical oriented player can readily be found in their drive, focus, goal-orientedness, and competitiveness.
Given this intense approach, casual players or action gamers may—at times—perceive the SOP to be ‘too serious’ and one who will likely ‘take the fun’ out of the whole gaming experience. However, in the eyes of a statistical oriented player, the impression of them could be the farthest thing from the truth as they are simply enjoying the game in their own way. Looking beyond winning the matchup (a likely objective for both players), SOP’s are constantly in search of secondary objectives/challenges in order to sustain their level of interest. Some examples that come to mind are: Locking down their opponent’s top offensive threat, picking up another PlayStation 3 trophy, or registering the aforementioned triple-double just to name a few.
Now these personal definitions do not imply that one gamer type is better than the other, it is just meant to illustrate the fact that we are all unique. That our approach to the game—much like in life—may not necessarily mirror that of the person holding the controller beside you. Furthermore, having some insight as to the type of gamer you are competing against will not only dispel any possible anxiety that you may be feeling (sweaty palms and all), but also temper your expectations.
A zero sum game
“It’s a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses.” – Gordon Gekko [Wall Street (1987)]
Whenever I hear or see the words, “zero sum game,” I am immediately reminded of this movie quote from Wall Street and how seemingly apt it is for any arena of competition. The game of basketball—be it ‘real life’ or ‘virtual’—is no different. Everyone who plays does so with the intention of coming out on top. It is a personal challenge (regardless of how soft or how loud it is expressed) and presents gamers with an opportunity to pit their skills (and strategy) against that of their opponents. Under this premise, gamer camaraderie is strengthened and sets the stage for yet another classic battle.
This is where Roger and I come back into the picture.
The never-ending battle
After playing all of those games through the years, Roger and I were more than familiar with each other’s tendencies: He was an AG and I was a typical SOP. We basically knew what was coming. So the more pertinent question was: Could we stop what was coming? Well, let’s just say that I had more success than Roger in that department.
When anyone gives all they have into an endeavor that doesn’t produce the desired outcome—it can result in disappointment. If it happens repeatedly, disappointment can turn into frustration and ultimately…anger.
Roger’s AG inside-outside approach is practically unstoppable if his players get hot. But as a fellow gamer, you know that doesn’t always happen. In fact, an NBA 2k14 player can go from hot-to-cold faster than you can say “Cat in the Hat.” Roger had pulled a tough win over me during the Christmas holidays and was raring for more. However, Roger hardly deviated from his AG approach and I made enough defensive adjustments in our succeeding matchup to carry my Boston Celtics to victory. (Note: The C’s are the only team that I have—and will—use…at least in 2k14.)
After several more wins by the Celtics, Roger frustration had reached a tipping point and he basically stood up and left. It all happened pretty fast and we didn’t talk for a while. Yet our distance provided me with an opportunity to reflect on our personal and gaming personalities as well as what I could do to make things right.
A few weeks passed and we both got a chance to sit down and talk about what had happened. I presented this gaming thesis and even compared it to how we approach things in our everyday lives. But in the end, we weren’t that different at all. We both wanted to win. We just went about it in different ways—our gamer types certainly made sure of that.
Whew! Who would have thought basketball would be so complicated!
About the author: Dr. Tedi Gustilo Villasor obtained his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology (2009) and Masters of Science in Guidance and Counseling (2002) from De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU). He has also completed a Certificate in Sports Counseling (2006) from San Diego University for Integrative Studies (SDUIS). Aside from his private practice at the Makati Medical Center, Dr. Villasor was a columnist for Baby Magazine wherein his column, "Rules of Engagement" (formerly known as “Understanding Your Child”), focused on children 10 years of age and above. For more, you can visit his website at www.hankpym.com or follow him on Twitter/Instagram: @hankpymcom