I’ve Got Next: Put Your Quarter Up!

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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.

Fighting Game insertLook 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): 

  1. Do you play fight­ing games? 
  2. Do you play this par­tic­u­lar game? 
  3. 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:

But as this col­lege of neg­a­tive tweets shows you can’t please everybody. 

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.

Mew2king insert

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.

Salt insertIt’s just a game bro! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)  (pho­to credit:http://theacetaco.tumblr.com/)

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Killer Tofu is the only ac­cept­able form of tofu out there. When not writ­ing about games and in­ter­net cul­ture he en­joys long walks on the beach with your mom. But he won’t call her afterwards.

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