Ladies & gentlemen, summertime is here and I’m beyond excited! Chalk it up to conditioning from all those years in school or fun factor. If I've said it once, I’ll say it again: it’s the time of year when I hit my stride. By the time this column is posted, I’ll be at EVO 2015!
Yes, sir! I’m heading back to the Mecca and, if it’s anything like last year, it will not disappoint. I spoiled myself by making EVO 2014 my first FGC major ever and it was a sight to behold. Nothing can throw me off the euphoria I’m on; so beware that the following isn’t a scolding rant, it’s a much needed reality check.
It’s been pointed out many times before and will be many times after that we identify and proudly brand ourselves as a community based in fighting games to much merit, yes… but if we want to be respected as such, we need to change the way we think. I’m gonna put this bluntly, we are a sub-genre (fighting games) of a non-mainstream culture (video games) that further divides the community by splitting up our games in a negative light. It’s bad enough that we are still misunderstood by mainstream society in many ways, but it’s so much worse that we’re on the bottom in terms of publicity & support in what professional organization our culture does have. ON TOP OF THAT, we have a prevailing stream monster mentality of cutting down what we actually do have! You don’t like a game, you bash it for whatever reason, valid or not. You go further by dissing the fanbase for playing the game, valid or not. They fire back and repeat the vicious cycle…VALID OR NOT. I’m not shooting this down from a high horse, either; we are all guilty of this to an extent at one point in time or another. My personal spot of ignorance (at much risk of getting flogged by my other KPB writers) was everything with an SNK label.
Back when I was younger and naïve, I was prone to my sheltered upbringing as a Capcom fanboy and looked at King of Fighters and any SNK branded game as a knockoff. My first encounter was an exchange in borrowed games with a friend and he gave me Capcom vs. SNK 2. Great game, I enjoyed playing it, but never once picked an SNK character. They all looked like scrapped SF concepts left on the drawing board to me and looking at Ryo was the last nail in the coffin if for no other reason than pure imitation. A few years later, I did a little research and found that I was somewhat justified in my condescending outlook with the creation of Dan. However, becoming a Skullgirls fan puts you in a humbling position and forces you to reevaluate your perspective. I’ve learned to give due respect to fighters that have the robust mechanics to support a highly advanced meta and have a passionate, skilled player fanbase. What put KOF in a completely different light for me was Reynald’s amazing comeback a couple of years ago at EVO. I can only think of one similar comeback that can compare: the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series. The game brings the hype and that demands respect. I still have one gripe with SNK that can never be forgiven… and that’s the wasted character slot(s) in Street Fighter & perpetual troll fanbase NAMED DAN! Other than that, I’m good and I digress.
We can no longer afford this type of ignorance -- and sometimes arrogance -- in our community. You don’t like certain aspects of a game you picked up or watch, just drop it. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO PLAY OR WATCH. It’s fine to burn an imbalance like infinites or trash an overall bad game, but anything over that is tasteless. Of course, it’s almost as impossible to like every single fighter in existence just as it is to like every person you meet. This is the FGC, though. We have/had such broken games and yet, it still requires great skill to truly compete. You don’t have to give your affection, but your respect for the meta and competitive drive is mandatory. We look for and demand growth as an eSport, yet we are plagued by the flat out lack of professionalism (like shunning the Smash community into its own separate genre years back). Speaking of which, the Smash community has its own deep seeded issues and is a whole other can of worms for another long, rainy day. If we truly want to grow as a respectable and (someday) professional community & sport, we need to reflect and be accountable for ourselves first.
I said before that EVO 2014 was my first major and what an experience. It brought me back to the arcade days I miss dearly because I’m sick of these ‘fun rooms’ filled with ticket machines being advertised as arcades. In the side tournament/BYOC area, everything was there, old and new with not an empty seat at any station. We run deep no matter the game, always fight with passion and it’s a beautiful thing. At our core, though, the late, great Satoru Iwata said it best: “Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”
That’s it for today, boys & girls. This column wasn’t meant to be too long. I’ll leave ya with the KOF finals match in case you haven’t seen it. If you have, then watch it again! I’m Las Vegas bound to EVO 2015 and it's almost time to SET IT OFF!