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The Comfort of an Simple, Enjoyable Routine

Every year, I go out and buy a copy of the latest NBA 2K video game.

Every year, I start and finish a season of basketball with a team, usually going through the full 82-game season schedule, playing pretty much every game manually1.

Despite the tweaks that the developers make to the controls and AI and general gameplay, I’ll eventually get good enough by midseason to cruise through the playoffs and win a virtual championship.

Every year, since the original NBA 2K.

I’m not sure why I keep maintaining this routine. It takes a good 100+ hours to go through a season (each game takes about 50 minutes of real time to play through, 82 games + playoffs games will number around 100), and while there are differences from year to year, they’re not enough to fool me into thinking that I’m playing a completely new game every year. In fact, I know I’m paying for about 10 months of incremental game development at a full $60, which is considerably less work than some other big-budget $60 titles, e.g., GTA5 at a cool 5 years and $250 million.

My only explanation is that this routine has become so familiar and in fact is a comfortable constant in my life. It may be strange to ascribe this level of reverence to a mere video game, but I’d like to think that many of us find familiar comforts in the trivial and banal. Psychologically, it feels like revisiting an old friend, strictly on my terms, and ensuring that things are largely the same.

I’ve stayed with this one series in large part because I’ve gotten fairly good at the game, at figuring out the controls and reading the game’s AI in my 15 years of playing through its many iterations. Enjoyment that comes from doing something you’re good at is a proven stress reliever and is good for your mental well-being; as long as the activity isn’t directly harmful to other people or other areas of yourself, I’m a huge fan of simple pleasures.

Like virtually shooting a ball through a virtual hoop, some 4,600 times a year2.


  1. As opposed to simulating games to speed up the process.

  2. Using an average of 45 baskets made per game – a few more than the average for the best team in the NBA, but this is a video game – and assuming a 82-game regular season and 20 playoff games en route to a championship.

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