Tween Experience

Trolling Teens -NBA2K

“Ronnie 2K decides… hey! I’ll just make your player do a fancy 360 Windmill Dunk… and you’ll lose. Every. Single. Time.” — Evan, age 12

Quick Backstory on Ronnie 2K
According to my deft internet research, Ronnie 2K — is alias for Ronnie Singh, the digital marketing strategist and developer for all things 2K — NBA 2K that is — by Sega — maker of video games. Interestingly, there is not much trace of Ronnie 2K’s identity online. According to Evan, my middle son — he is known as Ronnie 2K among the gaming world — including the most popular gaming YouTube Channels — as the cheesy troll — who trolls. “Ronnie trolls us, mom”. I had NO idea about this — him. I had NO idea NBA 2K — as in NBA 2K 12,13,14,15,16 — for XBOX and PlayStation — is synonymous with Ronnie 2K.
I am deducing NBA 2K is not just a video game — but a “guy”, coined Ronnie 2K — programmably and algorithmically designed to face-off against my son — addict him, troll him for time, energy and my money — and ultimately beat him. Where is the lesson in that? Let me count them…

A
t night when it’s quiet, I hear the vague racket of a child’s frustration. His audible tumult drifts up from the basement — closer, piercing. It becomes perceptible. He’s angry. He’s incredulous. I am forewarned. Evan, my twelve-year old, storms upstairs. He is indignant with insult and disapproval.

“NBA 2K?”, I ask quietly.

He sweeps forcefully past me, head down and presses to his room. Slams door. I resentfully follow. I tap on his door. “What?!”, he vibrates.

“Just checking.” I think to myself, he’s not going to talk about it tonight. I’ll save for tomorrow. Something is rotten. I am confident the culprit is the devise of NBA 2K.

I detest the gaming industry’s impression upon malleable teen boys — anxiety, addiction, emotional stress and gambling, for example. It’s a negative loop.

NBA 2K’s getting richer while your son’s getting angrier.

Over breakfast the next morning, Evan is open to relent his frustration with NBA 2K last night.

“Mom, it’s simple. NBA 2K — My Team is the game I love to hate. It’s fun to play but it also makes me angry. I want to sell it back to GameStop.”

Explain…

“Well there are two ways to play NBA 2K — My Career or My Team.
I play My Team — and build my own team. It’s way more challenging and more fun. In My Career — I am just an avatar on NBA 2K’s random team.”

Okay, walk me through your My Team play… how does it work?

“Well, the goal is to make it to the challenge — or a play-off. To do this, you gotta build your team. You need to ‘get’ the best NBA players — a certain line-up. It’s like the real NBA. You want the top NBA players. Obviously, the top players cost the most money. You can’t win with bad players — it’s a fact — you have to buy the top players in order to win. So in order to build My Team, I need game money. I get game money by earning points. The more points I have, the better players I can buy. OR… I can buy with VC (virtual currency) which I get with your credit card that’s hooked up to the account — and I can buy player packs — that will MAYBE have a good player — but the pack almost never includes one — there isn’t a good player in a pack — so it’s a waste of money. It’s a risk. Either way, I have to spend money to get good players… so I have to keep playing for points — since I don’t buy virtual currency. It took me four days to get enough points to build My Team.”

Did your team make it to the challenge last night?

“Yeah. I won a lot of games over the last couple of days. I earned a good line-up. I bought good players. I was so excited — SO excited. It took a long time, but I made it.

For example, I bought Yau Ming. He is the tallest and best player. I got to play the challenge, because I got the line up I played days to earn.”

But?

“When you are in the challenge, Ronnie 2K, or the NBA 2K game, puts its team together to play me. Their line up isn’t even that good. They do it on purpose — to make you think you can win because you have better players. But then, all of a sudden, their players are making every shot — against your team with good players!! I start to get really, really mad. There’s absolutely NO WAY the team I am playing against could beat me. It’s fixed. 100%.”

Why do you think it’s a set-up?

“Mom — because I am controlling my player. All I have to do is move Yau Ming to drive the ball down court; make an easy lay up that clearly Yau Ming CAN DO! Then, all of a sudden, the computer decides my player should make a 360 Windmill dunk — which naturally he misses. Yao Ming is 7’ 6”, the tallest NBA player in history. He can dunk without even jumping! He has never done a 360 Windmill dunk in real-life, and all the sudden he does it on my team. I have NO CONTROL. Ronnie 2K makes him do that — my guy takes a stupid dunk trick shot — and he misses. It should’ve been an easy shot — a lay-up, and Ronnie 2K makes him get fancy and do dumb stuff. It makes me crazy. Yau Ming, my player — should have made the easy shot. It’s that simple. Then, when it’s Ronnie 2K’s team’s turn to drive down for and easy layup — somehow, my guys foul him!?”

NO WAY!

“YES! Ronnie 2K is controlling nine guys on the court. Their five and my four. I control only one. I can switch players, but can’t control all five of my guys at once. The game controls them for you and makes it so your guys are fouling HIS guys. Also, somehow, when I’m winning (Ronnie 2K let’s me take a small lead) his team starts taking aggressive foul shots and they get called in Ronnie’s favor. Like, Ronnie 2K will grab your guy and throw your player down! It should be a flagrant foul — but they don’t even get called!”

Then what happens?

“Then, right at the end — I worked five days to get there — there’s the digital buzzer beater. YOU LOSE. I get so angry and upset. I immediately want to sell the game back to GameStop. I hate it. But then… it’s like I get sucked back in. I want to play again to beat Ronnie 2K.”

Do other gamers have the same issues?

“I watch a lotta videos on YouTube. Some gamers have a million subscribers. I watch the top guys whose videos have 750K views or more. Ronnie 2K makes everyone mad. Guys hate him, and they rage and freak out on Ronnie 2K — in the videos. Wanna see one?”

(I did watch a video with Evan. He chose a tamer one, evidently. Nonetheless, I am convinced they do not like Ronnie and have much to say to him).

Who do you watch on YouTube?

“JessertheLazer. He’s the biggest NBA 2K gamer. He plays only NBA 2K. You wouldn’t believe how he loses to Ronnie. Chris Smoove too — he spent 200 bucks in one video to buy player packs — to prove to the audience you don’t get one good player and it’s a complete waste of money and time. People HATE RONNIE 2K. But we’re addicted to playing. That’s why I get so mad. He just makes me want to beat him.”

I am dismissed.
Evan heads back down to the basement.

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