The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Playing with pixels

MVHS students share their experiences with sports video games
Benjamin Zhang

Sophomore Erik Lewis first discovered the world of FIFA in 2013 when his dad introduced him to the soccer simulation video game on his old PS3. Lewis’s dad had been playing since FIFA 09, and Lewis credits him for some of his favorite memories from over a decade of playing together. 

“We used to always play modded modes, so that was a lot of fun,” Lewis said. “This one time, I remember we were sitting in the living room, and I looked at my modifiers and saw I had the unlimited stamina one. I was really happy because I could just sprint the entire game without my players getting tired, so I was basically guaranteed to win.”

EA Sports launched the first game in the FIFA soccer series in 1993. Every year, a new FIFA is released with updated teams and players. What started as a simple pixelated game has now grown into the biggest sports video game franchise in the world, according to Forbes. In the past few years, EA Sports evolved with the introduction of Ultimate Team

Photo | Lillian Wang

“In Ultimate Team, you have to collect player cards by either buying them from the transfer market or doing objectives,” Lewis said. “Then you put a team together using the cards you want and play games with it and try to win. I like it; I think it’s improved a lot since the older versions because the animations are very different and much more realistic.”

And yet, despite the flashy card designs and groundbreaking gameplay, Lewis says there’s one thing these new game modes can’t replace — the personal interactions and memories that come with the classic game modes.

“When you’re playing in classic game mode with your friends, normally you’ll be in the same room, so it can be a lot of fun,” Lewis said. “You can make jokes and trash-talk them when you score. But Ultimate Team is an individual thing. And when you’re playing by yourself, you’re only playing against people you don’t know, so oftentimes it can be a little bit boring.”

MVHS ‘21 alum Eric Zheng shares a similar sentiment. Zheng started playing NBA 2K, the largest basketball simulation video game according to Variety, when his friend introduced it to him in 2016. NBA 2K, similar to FIFA, releases a game every year with updated rosters and new game modes. After graduating, Zheng stopped playing 2K as often but recalls that his favorite aspect of the game was being able to play with friends.

 “It’s definitely something we looked forward to doing when we were hanging out,” Zheng said. “It was always something that we could just do. It’s really chill. We would just stay at home and play when we were super tired. We could play basketball with them outside in real life and then come back in and play 2K after retiring.”

Zheng remembers that his favorite team, the Golden State Warriors, was on a winning streak in 2016, which furthered Zheng’s interest in NBA 2K. As a basketball player himself, Zheng found excitement in simulating games and testing moves with his favorite players. 

“It’s cool to play as players that you watch on TV that are super good and can do some crazy stuff that I can’t do in real life, like dunking with my favorite players,” Zheng said. “In 2016, the mechanics were still pretty good, but definitely not as real as they are now, especially with the 3D models for the players and the face rendering, which looks so much more real now. It’s basically like you’re playing real basketball.” 

However, sophomore Jason He disagrees. Having played NBA Live mobile and also being a basketball player, he believes video games are far from a real game of basketball, as people only choose to attempt fun things on a video game.

“I think there’s really no real connection other than the fact that it’s the same sport and that the game is emulated,” He said. “On NBA Live mobile, all people do is shoot three-pointers or flashy dunks. But that’s not really realistic in the real world. No NBA team would do that. Another reason the game is not going to be realistic is because we’re playing against bots all the time, and bots are not the same as humans.”

He says he turns to sports video games for fun. However, this also became the reason why he quit NBA Live Mobile later down the line. 

“I think that the game overall, in the end, made me more angry than happy,” He said. “I felt like it was just a negative in my life, so I cut it out. Sometimes, I work really hard for a chance to get a great player, but I don’t get him. And afterward, I just think I wasted all my time. I could have done something else that would have been more beneficial and that makes me really frustrated.”

Lewis agrees with this as well, saying that despite an overwhelming amount of the FIFA community being good sports, many still ruin the fun, which is the point of playing the video game in the first place.

“I think it’s pretty good for the most part, but then there’s a few people that are really toxic, and they’ll do things just to annoy you,” Lewis said. “I feel angry in those moments, but all I can do is suck it up.”

Nonetheless, Lewis, Zheng and He all agree that their favorite sports video games have given them many good memories throughout the years. For Lewis, FIFA reminded him of his time with his dad and brother. For Zheng, it was a relaxing game that he could play to calm down. And for He, especially, NBA Live Mobile defined parts of his experience as a kid.

“I think it was a big part of my childhood,” He said. “There were good times, but there were also bad times. Maybe if I never touched that game, I would have found something else that would have been more beneficial. But in the moment, it made me very happy.”

About the Contributors
Lillian Wang
Lillian Wang, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Lillian is a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque.
Benjamin Zhang
Benjamin Zhang, Staff Writer
Benjamin is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes to play soccer, collect vinyls and critique bad movies.
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