Women's Sports: WNBA inclusion in 2K20 is an important step for women's basketball

In September, the NBA 2k20 game announced the introduction of the WNBA to the franchise for the first time.

This marked a landslide moment for women’s basketball and showed how much progress has been made in the women’s game. NBA 2K first emerged in 1999 and calls have often been made for the women’s NBA to be featured. 

Attempts have been made before by other games, Electronic Arts’ NBA Live 18 and 19 introduced WNBA players into their games, but not as comprehensively as 2K has this year.

Mike Wang, gameplay director at 2K, said that previously, the team had thought about transferring the women’s likenesses to the male player’s already in the 2K library. However, they felt that this would be doing the WNBA players a disservice.

2K20 has now created a space within their product for the WNBA and its 12 teams in their entirety to be accessed and played by its gamers. Instead of just exhibition games, 2K20 players will be able to play the traditional WNBA season in line with 2019’s game schedule.

Inclusion: another way to amplify the WNBA?

Two-time WNBA MVP, Candace Parker, was one of the first to go through the motion capture process so that her digital character represents her movements accurately. Parker and several other WNBA legends will go through this process whilst the rest of the players’ digital movements will be pulled from a library created with amateur player’s digital renderings.

“I understand we’re kind of the pioneers of the game and we’re continuing to make it grow,” Parker said, “and I think this is a huge step in that direction.”

Parker, speaking to Jemelle Hill on her podcast, ‘Unbothered’, added that ‘It’s about time. A lot of people are asking ‘are you so happy?’ No, this should’ve happened a while ago, but I’m happy it’s happening now, and I’m excited for the future of it because now young boys and young girls are going to grow up seeing that. 

“And that’s what you have to do — you have to be able to see it to accept it and believe in it.”

Briana Stewart, WNBA All-Star, believes that being included in 2K20 will help elevate the women’s basketball game to the same level as the men’s game. She hopes that it will kickstart a cycle in which 2K gamers will learn more about the WNBA players themselves and become more invested in the women’s game.

“Who knows, maybe they’ve never watched a WNBA game before, but now that they have 2K20, and the ability to play with us, maybe they’ll play with us, and then maybe they’ll watch us,” Stewart said.

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