An idea I’ve seen perpetuated over and over by the media is that gaming is not diverse enough. They make false claims that gaming is a Cis Het White Male™®© dominated hobby, contrary to the ubiquity of Twitch channels and YouTube channels that can easily prove just opposite. Video games appeal to large swaths of the population, and to imply otherwise is shitting right in the face of the diversity some so to inject by force onto any and all social groups that they deem subversive. No matter how hard some would attempt to push an idealized version of gaming culture, and “nerd” culture in general (which doesn’t exist by the way), there will always be proof of the contrary. The most obvious community that exemplifies this truth is the fighting games community.
Fighting games have long had worldwide demographic appeal. Black, brown, red, yellow, tan, and even purple people love to play fighting games. Many consider them to be one of the highest forms of competitive game play, and the esport is often referred to as real time chess [Editor’s note: Fighting itself has been classified this way, and not unjustifiably.] It’s because of the complexity between matchups, and the ability for anyone to get to a high level of play, why people from all walks of life love playing the genre. It speaks a universal language that requires little translation for even novices. I can say 623 LP, and anybody who speaks fighting game knows that’s a Dragon Punch motion using light punch.
Look at all those white people! (image credit ufgtus.wordpress.com)
Even the memes have appeal outside of the fighting games community. It’s because of this common passion, and this fighting “language” that everybody can get along. It’s like learning Imgur etiquette, or learning which subreddit to post what on, and there is unity in the fighting games community worldwide because we have this universal language that is so easy to pick up.
Everyone can fit in, and anyone can step up to a seat at a tournament or a machine at the arcade. As long as you put your quarter up, you’re always welcome to have the next game. Here’s a basic checklist of requirements for playing fighting games with anyone in the world except elitists (which you cannot escape in any community):
- Do you play fighting games?
- Do you play this particular game?
- Is it your turn?
If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations, you can play anyone.
There’s a real sense of community at tournaments both local and worldwide. Everybody is here for the same reason, and that’s to GET HYPE! Fighting games are flashy and visually stimulating, so it’s hard not to get caught up in the spectacle when when idly spectating. No matter who you are, you know when something is hype. It fills you with electricity and glues your eyes to the screen. Your heart rate raises and your breathing becomes more ragged.
“Will he land the 20 hit combo? Will the opponent escape? I DON’T KNOW BUT DAMN IT LOOKS AWESOME!”
And more and more people want to observe this spectacle; so much so that ESPN2 showed the Grand Finals of Street Fighter V at EVO this year. ESPN2 being a place for sports fans to watch Golf, Poker, and various other sports, fighting games are so crazy and interesting to watch that even people who thought that it’d be boring to watch video games fell victim to the hype.
Here’s an Imgur gallery of some of the tweets sent during the Top 8 broadcast. Below are a couple of choice examples:
Arcades were where a lot of teens would congregate during the 80s and into the 90s in America — and the world — to play video games. This is where the community, traditions, and spectacle of fighting games had their origin. Over three decades of camaraderie and customs developed over shared passions..
There are countless posts on Reddit’s r/kappa (a fighting game subreddit) and the Shoryuken Forums (a classic message board style site) talking about how arcades were safe havens. A place where you could be you. It didn’t matter if you were poor as games typically cost just $0.25 a shot — a lot cheaper than the home consoles for some families. It was a lot cheaper to just go to your local mall to play games for an entire afternoon and it’d cost $10 – 15 at most. This in turn also kept impoverished teens from falling into the “wrong” crowd. I’ve seen many a social media post, and various conversations, about how people have stayed away from drugs and gangs all over the United States because they had the arcade to escape to. We also see arcades still alive in Japan and South Korea, as well as other Asian countries, however this is for a slightly different reason.
In Japan in particular, there’s a very limited amount of space in most homes, which makes owning things like game consoles and the like very difficult. Combine this with the average salary man’s lifestyle and you’ll come to find that the Japanese just don’t have very much free time. Enter: the Arcade. Most arcades in Japan are located in either shopping centers or inside of train stations. This makes hopping into the arcade for an hour or two after work and avoiding your family an escapist pastime for lots of overworked Japanese. It also makes a good time waster between various modes of transportation. The only other place that the arcade is alive and well is South America. We see lots of pirate arcade machines in Brazil and various other South American countries because of poverty once again. In Brazil the price of a PS4, as of its 2013 release, was $1,800 USD or about 5899.50 Brazilian real. This problem, coupled with stores actually charging money to pirate games, causes the video game market to erode in these regions.
With PC gaming, it’s just as costly. 3277.50 real for your standard $1000 gaming PC. Due to these high costs, it’s much cheaper to go to an arcade where it costs about 1 – 2 real per play. It just makes sense to go to an arcade over buying your own equipment.
It’s not about who you are, it’s about how you play the game. With something as skill-based as fighting games your abilities are your reputation. Often there are people referred to as “gods” in various fighting games. These people are perceived this way due to them being the cream of the crop for their respective games. It’s the reason why people whisper Daigo under their breath when talking about Street Fighter. It also why everybody who’s ever looked into competitive Smash knows who Mew2King is. These people carved their names out of the very medium they manipulate, and because of that they are revered and respected.
Hax, Mew2King, Mang0, and Lucky at Apex 2014
This isn’t to say that if you’re not the best or just plain suck at a game you will be disrespected. If you come to a meet-up for your local community and ask to learn, you will be taught. Passing the knowledge on is very important to most in the community, and as long as you have the dedication to learn, and are willing to listen, people will teach you. That is the best part of the entire community, the fact that no matter how skilled you are, you too can get to the point of being revered. There’s a lot of unspoken respect and social queues that go with fighting games, despite the bad apples you may see in tournament footage (I’m looking at you Smash Bros). People want people to play the game with, and they want GOOD people to play against. You’d be surprised what people will tell you during a friendly match. People actually WANT you to beat them, and because of that they try to help you improve. It’s about making sure the whole community is having a good time and is able play on the same level.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Killer Tofu, what do you mean everybody wants to have a good time? I always see videos online of people throwing controllers because they lost, and a bunch of trash talking. There’s no way that can be fun!” There’s a little known secret when it comes to fighting community. Almost an unwritten social rule. Trash talking isn’t about disrespect. It’s how we show our passion.
Now I know that sounds horrible on the surface. I know you may be turned off from fighting games now because I’ve said this, but hear me out. Fighting games tend to be high risk/high reward in their gameplay most times. With this in mind, we need to remind ourselves that emotions will run high. In anything competitive you’re going to get upset or even angry at your opponent. To remedy this, a bit of friendly banter is in order. A majority of the time, trash talking is very simple and cuts straight to the main point: You’re either not very good or your opponent is not very good. Rather than get into a physical altercation, people let out their hype and their high strung energy with trash talking. The biggest thing to remember is that trash talking is mostly friendly.
It’s just a game, bro. There’s no need to take it so seriously, and if you take it too seriously then you’re probably not that fun to be around anyway. This isn’t to say that trash talking doesn’t need to be reeled in a bit during actual matches in a tournament at times. At most tournaments, there are setups for most games that are available for people to play friendly games on. In addition to that, people like to do what’s called money matches. There are people who will bet anywhere from $50 – 1000 dollars just to play a game against somebody. It’s during these informal matches that trash talk really shines.
Without that element of the trash talking and the shouts of “FREE!” I just don’t think that money matches would be as enjoyable to watch. Just be aware, if you put money on it, you better be able to back it up. Don’t get in over your head, and don’t get salty when you lose. If you do lose, go over why you lost, hand over your cash, and come back better prepared. I have to say, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, who you have sex with, what pronouns you use, or if you think you’re a half-pony dragon-kin with an addiction to maple syrup in your underwear.
Can you play the game? Are you having fun? If so, then welcome to the fighting games community.
It’s just a game bro! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) (photo credit:http://theacetaco.tumblr.com/)
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