He can play ball, but rest assured: He's awful at RPGs.
Editor's note: Meghan demonstrates an excellent way to take a hot topic and relate it to gaming. It's interesting to cast LeBron James in a RPG context. I would never think of leaving a comrade behind in Final Fantasy Tactics or Disciples 3: Renaissance, but that's pretty much what he did to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers (and don't forget: ESPN did the same thing to good journalistic practices). -Jason
NBA superstar LeBron James taught me one thing with his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency to join the Miami Heat (aside from the fact that he’s heartless, greedy, and now officially a jerk): He and I would not play role-playing games the same way. This sounds ridiculous, yes, but I’m pretty sure I’m onto something.
Sitting at a small local bar, my dad and I waited with the rest of the crowd for LeBron’s announcement. We were divided on the issue: I didn’t trust LeBron and thought he would leave, while my dad blindly believed he would stay. That LeBron’s announcement wasn’t in Cleveland was an ill omen (seriously, way to pick Switzerland Connecticut for your announcement).
Both my dad and I didn’t care about LeBron’s announcement—we were concerned about the city that was 30 minutes east of us. Cleveland.
Cleveland needs needed LeBron. While Cleveland does indeed have its highlights, a negative image so bleak that even Clevelanders ridicule the city’s rep overshadows the good. For as long as I can remember (and long before that, to be sure), the once-booming industrial region has been riddled with problems to a Gotham City degree: political corruption, crime, poverty, foreclosure, and homelessness.
Left: When Cleveland sports teams are winning! Right: All other days of the year.
But when the city's sports teams are winning — which is a rare and auspicious phenomenon, to say the least — Cleveland is a slightly happier place. The atmosphere is different. The air doesn’t feel as saturated with pollution and depression. You could go as far to say that for the last seven years, LeBron symbolized hope for Cleveland’s luckless sports history. Clevelanders will miss that glimmer, that slight hiccup of positivity. Susan Orlean, who grew up in Cleveland and is a staff writer for The New Yorker, put it best in her blog, “The only good outcome is that Cleveland might now rally around this sense of injury and abandonment.”
So here is the point where LeBron and I would clash on the way we play strategy-RPGs.
In videogames, I play to save everybody, whether it's NPCs or party members. I’m the kind of gamer who makes strategic sacrifices just so all of my party members and allies come out alive and well. It’s not easy (or effective. even) to play games like Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions or Disgaea in this manner, but I feel better when my whole team only comes out with a few scratches rather than a few corpses. I play to win, but I play to win with the least damage possible. Call it "Utilitarianism," I guess.
LeBron, on the other hand, is playing to win and only win. That’s it. He wants a ring so badly that he sacrificed his relationship with an entire city (one that is practically his hometown). He knows how much Cleveland depended on him for the occasional mood-lifting win.
He’s the jerk that kills 100 party members by a quarter of the way through the game just to unlock the special ending. The guy who leaves the party member who has 1 HP to die because it's easier than healing them. He’s your disillusioned rival in Pokémon (don’t worry — I’m not going to go Professor Oak on this and dive into a lecture on love and friendship).
So where does your playing style fall? Do you play your RPGs like The King, or like this humble games journalist? I’m going to go rally around a sense of injury and abandonment before having a marathon escapism session of Disgaea: Infinite. Let’s grab a stiff drink and some tickets to the next Cavs vs. Heat game!
Meghan Ventura is senior editor/social media coordinator at MyGamer.com, and writes about Japanese video games and culture at her blog, KanjiGames. Follow her on Twitter: @meghanventura. She's so over LeBron James and kind of can't believe she used his Big Decision as a springboard into this discussion.