Playing ‘NBA 2K22’ Offline on a Nintendo Switch Is My Zen Gaming Moment

One night earlier this week, I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning, I finally nodded to my fuss, rolled over to my bedside table, and grabbed my Nintendo Switch. I turned it on with the press of a button, put my headphones on and managed not to stir my wife who was sleeping peacefully next to me or my dog snoring on his bed below. I finished the second half of a NBA 2K22 game that I had left incomplete the day before and ended up sleeping.

Bad sleep habits aside, isn’t that cool? Yes, yes, I should turn off the screens before bed, but this easy escape in a game is the only reason I have a Switch. It is, for me, indeed a motive 2K machine. It’s a way to play my favorite game during life’s in-between times, whether it’s late at night or on the couch while the family watches the news (after spending all day with the news and I’ve had enough). Or during the 20 minutes I’m alone while my wife finishes getting ready for a night out.

I have never been a “real” player. For a very long time I didn’t realize you could even play 2K on a switch. I thought the Switch was only for kids and could only play singles, mario-games. I really suck at first person shooters like Call of Duty. I can barely keep up Mario Kart. But the thought of losing myself briefly in a fake world tickles a particular part of my brain. I’ve long enjoyed playing franchise mode – or dynasty, or league, or whatever you want to call it – in sports games. This is where you essentially control everything a team does and inhabit each player during actual play.

The game doesn’t have to be complicated or even difficult. I like to play 2K offline, against the CPU, in a world entirely mine, and away from an 11-year-old opponent who plays for hours a day and could destroy me. It’s my game and I don’t want to share.

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I realize that gaming is a big business, a big culture, a big everything. But I have no need or desire, really, to feed its larger ecosystem. I understand the appeal of an immersive, challenging, world-building cooperative game like Ring of Elden. I also understand that as a grown adult who has built his life around other things, there is no practical way to fit it into my existence.

Even if I could manufacture time, I’d have to use it to develop the skills of someone who’s been playing for a decade to take advantage of the punishing mechanics of Ring Elden. Hell, even people who’ve been playing for years have found Ring of Elden confusing and stimulating. As someone who has only really played sports games, there is no muscle memory for any other type of game.

The Switch’s ability to be used as a handheld was also revolutionary for me. It’s the only way I’ve used it. Sure, the Gameboy did it forever and a day ago, but that’s different. There is virtually no loss of quality or functionality during playback 2K on the go with the Switch compared to how I played it stationary on an Xbox One. The only downside is the tiny buttons on the Switch, but I got over that over time.

This portability is huge for me. 2K on the Switch is a side project that I can jump into quickly when I have the time. It’s not about booting up a system, logging in, waiting for it to load, and then hogging an entire TV. I press the power button and play exactly where I was the last time I stopped. That’s kinda how I imagine the others play animal crossing – it’s a fun distraction and a way to pass the time without it take control your time. It is built to be a hobby instead of the only leisure.

I enjoy playing 2K offline, against the CPU, in a world that is entirely mine, and away from an 11-year-old opponent who could destroy me.

For me, gaming doesn’t necessarily mean playing online or spending hours locked in front of a screen. I know dedicated 2K the players are closer to the real players than I am – they compete as a unique avatar, part of a bigger basketball game with other real people. Not for me. Do you know what I like? Ripping dunks as LeBron fucks James against a hilariously overmatched CPU team. I like to trade players – cough, Russell Westbrook, cough – who don’t fit my imagined team. (Just FYI, my Los Angeles Lakers starting five are James, Tyler Herro, PJ Tucker, Jerami Grant, and Anthony Davis. I just had to brag a bit about my trades.) I like going into my season for 20 minutes both then turn off if I have to go cook dinner or do some other mundane task.

I guess some might consider it a waste of money to buy a Switch just to use it for a single sports game that I only play offline. But gambling doesn’t have to be a thing for everyone. The relatively low price of the Switch justifies an assembly 2K in my life. Sometimes all I want to do is shoot a virtual three-pointer and now I can do it in the moments of the mood…and from anywhere in the world. I can’t tell you the little boost of serotonin that makes me happy.

I don’t need to know if I’m really good at 2K. People online would definitely mop the floor with me. I don’t need to spend 20 hours learning how to be decent like I would with pretty much any other video game, let alone something like Ring of Elden. I’ve played every iteration of 2K for years. And now, with the Switch, I no longer have to turn to another input or take over the living room TV. I just need a moment to spare.

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So of course, I would like not to be regularly woken up at 1 a.m. But if I can’t sleep, I might as well get lost in my little laptop 2K machine. Forget counting sheep, I’d rather throw mean lanes like LeBron.

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