It was easier for sports game designers back in the day. In those august times, you just slapped the general shape of an athlete together, gave him the rough approximation of the correct haircut, made sure he was the right colour, and you were good. Before that, you often only had to make sure one guy was done right. Salad days, my friends.
But now, holy shit, game designers have to be accurate as hell. There’s no excuse for not getting the look, size and shape of a person totally right — right down to the tattoos. The NBA 2K series, long held as the standard for basketball video games, is no exception to this new way of being. Of course, that doesn’t mean players — guys who are, let’s say, a little further down the bench — don’t fall through the cracks.
Case in point: Norman Powell.
Powell, the Raptors swingman drafted 46th overall in last year’s draft who spent the first half of the season in the D-League before emerging as something of a force late in the year and playoffs, is a chill dude.
I’ve seen him smile a few times, maybe even stifle a chuckle, but I’ve never seen him get particularly upset about anything. If you listen to Norm’s voice in that brief clip, as he scans the appearance of his disastrously malformed digital avatar, it rings out with bitter acceptance. Of course he’s been disrespected, it seems to say; why would he, Norman Powell, grinder of the endless grind, expect anything different?
In lives both digital and real, Powell has been modestly overlooked. He knows this. And good lord, I suspect many others will learn of this injustice soon enough — presumably in a moment when Powell comes calmly swooping down the lane to punctuate his righteous indignation with a hammer dunk of time, or some such event.
This will happen in an NBA game, against NBA players, but it’s hard not to imagine the meaning behind such a gesture. This mans has had enough.
The 2016-17 NBA season starts on October 26th. Get ready.