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Recently, Facebook introduced what is now the latest hype among Harristies: a hidden feature found inside Facebook Messenger. With the latest update on the messaging app on iPhone and Android on March 17th, Facebook presented users with a hidden basketball game that is available once a basketball emoji is sent to any chat. After clicking on the emoji, players can then compete with friends to obtain the highest score by flicking the most number of basketball into the hoop without fail.
The psychology behind the game is simple, like the game’s format. When a player starts the game and sets a high score, he is motivated to get more basketballs into the hoops than the previous time. It is a form of self-satisfaction. Since the score of each player appears on the chat window, friends see each other’s scores and aim to do better. “I think the addicting part is the friendly competition between friends and holding the high score,” says Sophomore Leslie Huang, “Even now in our group chat all I see is “__ scored __ points playing basketball.”
It is the simplicity of the game that has engrossed students at Townsend Harris High School. “It has simple rules and a simple goal,” says Senior Lana Shteynman. “It attracts our innate competitiveness, which allows us to go on playing games like these for hours at a time, just to beat our high score or our friend’s.”
Sophomore Tamara Taklov also speaks about her experience with this latest feature. “It’s a nice way to entertain yourself when you’re waiting around. It’s amazing how games with simple movements like this basketball game or like flappy bird gain so much popularity so fast.”
Though the skills involved in actual basketball vary significantly, the basketball feature in Messenger still appeals to ballers. “Basketball is one of my favorite sports, so this kind of game seems perfect for me,” says Junior Neil Sanghvi.
Senior Qasim Safdar speaks about how the game has become another means of procrastination. “I start the game thinking that I’ll just play it once or twice. But I end up playing the game on my phone for thirty minutes until I finally beat my own high score or that of my friend’s.”
Not all Harristites have found the game as addictive as their peers have. Junior Brandon Jagdhar says, “I don’t see the point in flicking your finger around on the phone, hoping to make a shot at something that is mere luck. You might as well physically go outside and play basketball with friends.”
Nevertheless, with the success of the basketball game, many students are left wondering if the next app update will feature games with other emojis such as soccer, golf, and football.