We've all read about the uncanny valley, where fake things look close to but not quite like real things and so end up seeming really—and pardon the scientific jargon—freaky. "Oh yeah, uncanny valley," we say to each other while standing in the kitchen at Eric's party, "that refrigerator magnet is totally uncanny valley." It's a fun phenomenon.
But what about reverse uncanny valley? What about when real things look too much like fake things? What about THAT? Sorry to get heated, but this is also a thing. It is definitely a thing when it comes to comparing NBA players to the increasingly realistic and increasingly uncany video game versions of themselves.
Why and how does a person look like a videogame character? Maybe their normal demeanor displays a certain lack of facial malleability that we've come to associate with video game characters. Maybe their facial features are a little too distinct, like a preternaturally crisp pencil beard that looks like it was created in a character builder and layered hastily over a default face. Maybe their heads are just a little too round and symmetrical, somehow overly head-shaped. Maybe they just look like a video game dude. Whatever. It's fun.
Here's the current starting five of the NBA's All Look-Like-A-Video-Game-Character Team:
Ramon Sessions, Washington Wizards
Sessions has come a long way this season to earn All-Look-Like-A-Video-Game-Character Team honors. He started the year in Sacramento, stuck in a logjam behind Darren Collison at both actual point guard and looking like a video game character point guard. But after being traded to Washington and playing heavy playoff minutes in relief of John Wall, Sessions has reminded us all of his elite Looking Like A Video Game Dude skills, which never left in the first place so much as languished in Charlotte during those lost Bobcats years. Point guard is the most hotly contested look-like-a-video-game-character position, with heavy competition from all over the league in places you might not think to look, such as Celtics backup backup backup point guard Phil Pressey.
Reason He Looks Like A Video Game Guy: was born with video game guy face skin, has a digital goatee.
Jodie Meeks, Detroit Pistons
Yes, James Harden looks like a very well-rendered beard with only two moving eyes to indicate any hint of humanity. But he never had a chance, here. With Jodie Meeks, we're probably looking at the all-time greatest NBA player in the history of looking like a guy from a video game. Harden is no longer all that believable. He looks like a previous iteration, maybe a 2K13 or even a 2K12. Meanwhile, over the last couple of season, real life Jodie Meeks has become so dialed-in to looking like a video game character that he has to be careful to restart his system every so often or else his physics engines will glitch up and he'll lose his basic materiality and just walk through a guy.
Reason He Looks Like A Video Game Guy: his actual head is anti-aliased.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Video game Klay Thompson and real life Klay Thompson share an affinity for precise grooming, general imperturbability, and driving around in jeeps while wearing sunglasses.
Reason He Looks Like A Video Game Guy: is a level 31 elven water mage IRL.
Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets
Terrence Jones, like all Houston Rockets, is actually a proprietary algorithm created by Daryl Morey designed to disrupt the basketball workflow operations market. The Houston Rockets are a data company, first and foremost, and also second and secondmost, and honestly all the way through to last and lastmost. The Rockets are data. Hooray for data.
Reason He Looks Like A Video Game Guy: overperfect mouth shape.
Kendrick Perkins, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kendrick Perkins does not move his face. That's just not his game. If you're making a video game Kendrick Perkins, what you do is you take a picture of what Kendrick Perkins's actual face looks like, and you do a CTRL-C and a CTRL-V of that face picture on top of a video game robot body, and you call it a damn day. Your work is done because that is what he really looks like.
Reason He Looks Like A Video Game Guy: Actually is a Level 18 Xythian Warrior. Some legends say Xyth is cursed land, scorched by the Dragon Blight in the age of Yerric, but also Wikipedia says Perk is from Beaumont, Texas. It's hard to tell what's really real sometimes.
Team Spirit Award: The Entire New York Knicks
It's not that individual New York Knicks look especially like video game characters, although Ricky Ledo and Shane Larkin are clearly more CGI than flesh and bone. It's more that the 2014-2015 New York Knicks were clearly some weird video game fantasy scenario, a sort of shared alternate reality where a group of college friends decided it would be funny to scrap the entire actual roster of the actual New York Knicks and replace them all with build-a-characters that look like them. "Dude, Cole, do me now." "Hang on Jason, I'm still working on Travis." "I wanna be a scary-looking beard guy named Quincy Acy!"
Reason The Entire Team Looks Like Video Game Guys: they perform random basketball actions at inappropriate times as if controlled by a button-mashing drunk frat guy; are very clearly not the real New York Knicks.