It’s right in the thick of the FGC major season & I think back to my journey out west. Witnessing Evolution at its highest level yet then the states of affairs here at home.
A few months back, when the noise out of the boroughs erupted, my man Aphro Dynamek laid it out straight. Now it’s not as loud, but with this community, it can always flare up again. This isn’t so much as a counterpoint to his thoughts, but rather an introspective look as to why people are saying the NY FGC is dying out and if there’s any truth to it. "Konrad’s Wisdom" was actually therapeutic to me because, frankly, I share the same frustration and annoyance to this topic so someone needed to be curt if people weren’t already. The title implies what I’m about to write, and I’ll give you the reader a fair clue into the outlook. If you don’t care in the least bit about the NY scene, New Yorkers themselves or the mentality we have, then feel free to click the X in the upper right corner. If you’re from the area, then you will eventually have a view on this. I won’t believe otherwise. Part of what makes us different is being able to tell it like it is when you need to hear it. You got sore feelings? Tough. On a lighter note, there will be a generous amount of references to old school tracks, so follow me.
There’s a ton of layers to peel off and inspect here, but let’s start with the simple stuff: Is the NY FGC scene dying/dead? Short answer: Hell no! Real answer: I would contest that we are in a valley. Of course, it’s ideal to sustain a steady, constantly growing community, but peaks & valleys are just as natural as they are inevitable. With fighting games, you’re prone to game droughts back in the day & recently game saturations as well as factoring in the age of said games... it all results in fluctuations in enthusiasm. From my observations, I sum up that the NY scene is in a lull overall, the term 'dying' is once again being misused.
Now to the nitty gritty: Why is there a dip in the attendance of NY? It’s a whole lot of factors at play here that I have seen since my entry in this community back around 2009, but to begin to dissect things & add a known player’s perspective, I have to bring attention to what my teammate Sean Aquino said a while ago. My guy who rocks Kick-Punch-Block! on his chest hits on several nerves about the situation. Us ‘09ers’, who came up in the scene (not necessarily fighting games) back then are living completely different lives. Some of us are in college, a lot of us are working full time, and few of us are even parents now. For those that can juggle all that and still keep the grind going, more power to you, however those are clear life priorities; there’s no shame in focusing your efforts on that. Location and time are also a big deal. Old Next Level ran their weeklies on a Wednesday night in a tough location to travel to. Understand there’s no disrespect given to the heads putting in their time or the players that frequent there, it is what it is.
Main takeaway from Aquino’s post was that the new generation is not stepping up and filling the gaps that the older players are leaving. Highlighting that online is keeping these new players indoors & they don’t know where to go for locals. Although I see his points, I don’t agree with that for these reasons. Online play has been something that’s been making the FGC homebodies since '09, so that isn’t a new issue. Secondly, I have to echo Aphro’s sentiments, it’s one thing when FGC gatherings are a hassle to get to, but he’s stated a few occasions where these opportunities were handed on a silver platter and they were not taken. That’s not including any other events hosted by KPB or other NY organizers since then. I know firsthand that it’s NOT from failure to advertise, not from us or anyone else down in the boroughs. This is just scratching the surface, let’s dig deeper into the psyche of the NY state of mind for everything that it’s worth.
So far, we have the real life vortex and complacency as reasons why we see a dip in the NY scene. Underlying theme in both my references was, of course, money. Truly ironic how ‘pot monsters’ come out for pot bonuses; that can irritate any regular/veteran in the FGC I know. However, the other side that I experienced firsthand and been told by many of my friends over the years is, is the expense in money & time worth the result? Again, the matter of location is at the forefront. Travelling in New York is usually through trains and buses… if you didn’t know, the MTA can be the stuff of nightmares. If you’re from Westchester or further up, you’re gonna need a car to get around. Once you get to whatever FGC event it is you’re heading to, you’ll need to figure out what you’re doing for food sometime within the vast hours spent. One of the most slept on topics in the FGC is that gamers are notorious junk/fast food consumers; not exactly accommodating to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re picky about what you refuel yourself with, it is best you pack something from home but… I mean, c’mon, are we really gonna do that? To the TOs that see a drop in your attendance, ask yourself first if what you are offering is conducive to the masses THEN we can gauge the hunger to level up.
With all that in mind, I often hear that for some venues, it’s not worth the fare & time to come out just to get knocked out quick then head back home for the night. I know it’s easy to fall into that pot monster mentality, but what you’re really getting out of it is fun or a learning experience if you leave yourself open to it. However, if the atmosphere isn’t friendly towards the players looking to grow, then do you expect anything else than people to not bother to come out? To clarify, the entire FGC is not guilty of an elitist attitude, but this isn’t something limited to New York. Besides that, whether you are a TO, stream warrior or player, you need to acknowledge the elements surrounding the circumstance before you declare a death. Here’s an example: The winter of 2013 & 2014 was the coldest, iciest, snowiest, longest winter we’ve seen in probably decades. Pot holes ripped open the streets and mountains of snow were everywhere. If you recall, that was around the time that the rumor was circling that Next Level was dying. If it was the summer, with school out and such, I can understand, but how can you even say the scene is done if people are debating if they need to step out to go to work?!
This is a lot to digest all at once, I know, but there’s more. I’ve gone over some trivial & plausible reasons why it could be that New York slipped a little, now let me introduce the harsh reality that’s normal for us into the equation. Those past winters presented real danger travelling in New York, but really that just added to the already dangerous risk you take going outside. Granted, any city has its perils, but here in New York, we’ve been plagued for the past few months with slashings in the subways in broad daylight… I’ll leave it at that. Out here, you need to keep your head on a swivel because it might just save a life. It’s very rough with all this in play, yet we still have those that grind it out… but they are not the problem, are they?
Community is not exclusive to big names. Much like any kind of competition, the fans and casual players make up the majority. There’s still very much so a pulse in NY and any rip isn’t directed towards the people still putting in work and celebrating what we are. For those that have a legit reason why or just wanted to bow out quietly from the scene, you are perfectly within your right. The ones that drew the ire in Konrad’s Wisdom, you need to do better. However, as you could have guessed, my intent in this article isn’t to roast, it’s to rally. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ve been on record saying I think it’s silly to root for a region because it changes depending on who is playing and/or how big the stage is… this time, I’m taking some pride in my home. East Coast has been second fiddle to West Coast historically in the FGC and this drama that’s giving credence to a self-proclaimed decline, when the vibrancy should be the focus, has not helped us in the least. It bothers me because some of the country’s best overall players came from NY. As New Yorkers, overcoming adversity gives us our edge and I say now is as good a time as ever to let everyone know.
At Defend the North and Brooklyn Beatdown we have placed well in SF5. I’m calling for keeping that going and sustaining momentum. The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island, Yonkers, even all of Westchester, stoke the fire for the rivalries that are embedded in us. Band together when foreigners try to style on our land. Don’t exacerbate the problem any further with complaints. Pitch in where you can. Attend a tournament, train at a local, promote an event or all of the above so we as a community can build a better experience. Otherwise, I’m seriously thinking about revoking some of your NY privileges and trading you out of state for someone that can make the city proud.
P.S. : Any questions on the NY FGC, see the real American hero, L.I. Joe.