Hello again, my FGC brothers & sisters. I hope you've been well since the last time we had the chance to talk. I'm sure you've noticed all the buzz that we've been receiving as of late. While it can be quite opportune for us in the long run, there are a few things we need to remember...
Before we get started, I want to be very clear about something: I am in awe of how far things have come for us (the FGC as a whole) in the span of a year. There's something to be said about how awesome the level we've reached is. Had anyone told me that fighting games would be where they are now at the beginning of my tenure with KPB, I would have openly mocked you. Thankfully, I've been proven wrong. We now stand upon the cusp of greatness... or, at least, the cusp of equality. It's no secret that we've been ostracized in the landscape of gaming for some time now and it would be an exaggeration to say that some of it wasn't deserved. Let's face facts, people: we did it to ourselves.
The reason why I'm apprehensive is because there need to be some massive changes in how we do things if we want this attention to stay positive. Before anyone gets antsy, I'm not talking about drastic reform. I just think we need to clean up our act a little bit. You know, casual stuff like letting go of the use of racial epithets & other pejorative titles when describing opponents. Maybe curtailing all the profanity. Possibly even adjusting our attitude towards some the members of our own community. (If you need me to spell that last one out for you, I recommend sensitivity training.) Remember: we're about to have a considerably higher number of eyes watching our moves both in & out of the competitive context. The level of scrutiny that lies ahead of us needs to be acknowledged or else the opportunity that's been presented to us will go to waste faster than you can say "run it back".
I'm plenty aware of the grassroots feel that the FGC treasures. A sense of rogue independence that makes us feel unique from other gaming communities. The downside is that we've held onto it for so long, some of those habits & tendencies that could be perceived as "distasteful" to the uninitiated have lingered & taken root in some of us. I bring this up because, and I am indeed kicking a dead horse here, this new level of attention has some purse strings attached to it. Usually, when money gets involved, the expectations shift considerably. If sponsors intend on investing in us, they are going to be scrupulous to a degree most of the unaffiliated members of the FGC have never experienced before.
For the higher echelon players, this won't be that drastic of a change. They're held to a higher standard for a damn good reason: it's business for them. They signed the contracts, they're on the hook for their actions & behavior. That extends beyond competition, too. If you don't meet the standards of the people investing in/backing you, then prepare for a VERY unpleasant reality because you will get dropped faster than an F-bomb in an R-rated movie. No two ways about it, neither. That's the responsibility of obtaining such notoriety.
I apologize if I'm coming off as all gloom & doom, but you have to understand how much this means to so many people. I know a lot of you enjoy the camaraderie & fellowship that comes with the territory of being in the FGC, but there's another side to that proverbial coin. A side I've called home for the last two years: organizing. I hope that this would be very common knowledge for a lot of you reading this, but for anyone that is blissfully unaware of what I'm talking about, allow me to explain. I want you to think about any FGC event you've attended, be it a local tournament at a familiar address or a major gathering of talent in some (relatively) fancy hotel. Whether you're fully aware of it or not, a tremendous amount of work & coordination with countless moving parts goes into every single event. The better run the tournament is, the more work it requires. All those people who work behind the scenes are about to become subject to that same pressure I've been talking about this whole time. The key difference is that it won't be a tag or some extra money to push buttons on the line for them, it could be their events at risk now. Let that sink in for a minute...
Brothers & sisters, understand that I'm only bringing up the potential risks because the possible rewards are so great. ESPN, with all their commercial & media clout, are now devoting attention to us. The CW is going to be broadcasting -- I repeat: broadcasting -- the highlights of the recent ESL Championships for Mortal Kombat X in a few days during primetime. We're getting Rash from Battletoads & the Arbiter from the Halo series in Season Three of Killer Instinct. Akuma is appearing in Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. The finals of EVO this year are going to be held in a freaking arena... this particular brand of expansion is unheard of, yet here we are, approaching a make or break year for the FGC. More eyes are going to be watching us than ever before and it is our task to give them a reason make it more than a passing glance. The burden lies with us to prove that this is more than just some volatile experiment with the Sword of Damocles perilously hanging overhead. It is on us to make this a lasting & enduring standard. I have no intention of apologizing for being so passionate... I just hope that passion & awareness is shared by some of you. It's our time now, so lets make it count!
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.