Nov 03

The angry, basement dwelling fighting gamer?So what is the future of fighting games? Street Fighter 4 has jump started the genre by bringing back veterans of the old series and attracting new blood to the competition. With the next installment being released soon, the upsurge can only continue to build until like it’s predecessors it dies down until the 5th sequel. But it worries me that only a few games are viable as true winners in the fighting game genre. Offhand I think Street Fighter, Tekken and Soul Calibur when people ask “which fighting games should I be playing?” Sure you hobbyist gamers will jump on the new Guilty Gear clone or SNK niche title but is it worth it when you log into the network and find only 5 French guys qeued up to challenge you? (Cough KoF 12).

When Marvel vs Capcom 2 was anounced, the nostalgia and positive memories of a huge roster combining our favorite Capcom heroes with Marvel’s top brass overshadowed the reality of what a horrible game it was. A game that rewarded the people who learned how to spam in repetition – near unstoppable combos and devastating infinites. A game where roughly 5 player characters dominated a roster of over 30, half of which are practically worthless. When games like this are re-released, polished for your HDTV but remain unplayable for newbs who fall victim to the Storm/Magneto/Sentinel rape, would they purchase another fighting game to play competitively? Probably not.

Gamers kill the Fighting Game genre
In my honest opinion, the biggest killer of the fighting game genre is the playerbase and their elitist attitudes. Although renowned for this and called out on many occasions, I must bring up the website shoryuken.com as an example of this. Just visit them and take a gander at the Street Fighter threads. While I love to draw comparisons to my martial arts tournament days when I talk fighting games, there is one huge difference between the two. Martial arts tournaments normally have sportsmanship and tact when one person defeats the other. Videogame tournaments have posturing, mean-spirited taunting,and a sort of social awkwardness that borders on disturbing. Unless cheesed to death by someone exploiting, I will get up shake my oponents hand or give him/her a “good match” prior to moving on.

What I generally see in these tournaments is a strange psychological phenomenon which melds social inferiority with egotistical elitism at the highest degree. So you see the skinny, pasty kid calling you a scrub while avoiding eye contact and walking away with his handmade joystick. You see the heavy-set, bully type who shouts loudly about dominating the other guy and mouth breaths expletives whenever he starts losing. Though not to be overly general about the players, you get a few guys/gals who are poised, courteous and endearing during and after a match. Losing to the latter doesn’t feel harmful, you feel honored to have played and hopefully learnt something from the match.

I recall the last Street Fighter tournament I attended the last match I had was against a really good Balrog player. We talked and joked the entire match and although I was beyond confident with my Chun-Li, he took the match and we shook hands and separated happily in the end. This match was the 5th one for me that day and even with the potential of getting to the finals weighed on the match, we both were able to go at it as human beings. I find it hard to understand why this is a crutch for most gamers. There is a human being behind the joystick on the other end, no-one likes an asshole.

Why do Gamers act like this?
The simple answer to this question is the obvious “because they are mommy’s basement dwelling, hot pocket popping, losers without girlfriends”. This can’t be true (well maybe for about 2% of these guys) but there are enough people like this now to where most of them will have girlfriends, will have jobs and will be living and paying their own rents/mortgages. It must be something else. My buddy The Marksman made a suggestion that it may be due to the lack of team sports growing up or competition that leads to this attitude. For awhile I agreed because I felt that many of the people I saw acting like this would never make the cut on their junior varsity basketball, baseball or football team. The aspect of “being the bigger man” is foreign to them so naturally they act like neanderthals when they have the over.

This was my thought until I got to know some of these people a bit better and a few of them did have sports backgrounds. It made me realize that sports could be replaced with anything group related and a child would learn the basic constructs of being unselfish and showing humility. It had to be more than that, there was something that separated the courteous from the assholes and I wanted to find out what it was. Is it parenting?

So why are fighting gamers typically assholes? Do they not realize that outside of their Street Fighter world no-one cares about who they are or how badass their gaming is? What makes a grown man act so juvenile when he wins or loses in tournaments? Was bad parenting to blame? Are fighting games almost phased out? what do you think?

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