Sitting Centerstage: The Winning & Fun Relationship

Welcome back to the open floor with the inner daydreaming of myself, your host, Parappa. Given how things been with the state of our community and the games, I figured a switch up was needed; something mellow and introspective, not unlike my anecdotes while sitting center stage.

Since the last time I was on this stage, our Kick-Punch-Block Scribes’ division has grown a bit. By now, I’m sure you’re acquainted with the works of 2Tall and Zidiane. I assure you that there is plenty of healthy discussion about various concepts involving fighting games with none other than Aphro Dynamek encouraging the forum. We all have our unique backgrounds & leave our signatures on our various pieces. The notion for this article spawned from a few pertaining events & talks, but mainly from my upbringing. By that, I mean the success and teachings of a family of coaches. From an early age, I learned what it takes to win and the joyous fun that comes with victory. So long ago that I can’t even remember where I heard this from, I came across a comment along the lines that “you can’t win and have fun at the same time.” Of course, that’s silly, to say the least. Now the context was about lower tier characters ability to win, which kind of places a stereotype on high tier characters being boring and fun characters suck. It’s ridiculous with the likes of Xian and KaneBlueRiver winning at high levels with lacking characters. Even so, there is an overarching force at work.

For players playing a game, there is a degree of fun involved, no question. The true question is just how much is in the focused, stressful environment of professional competition? To paint an easy to comprehend mental picture in FGC terms, I present Infiltration and SonicFox. Both are dominant champions and have been seen way more often than not as very lighthearted in their public personas and gameplay. What I witnessed about these players in the past is two scenarios on opposite sides of the playing around/serious spectrum. Before the download was complete at EVO 2016, Infiltration said some words of wisdom while acting like & having as much fun as a 9 year old on Cross Counter TV. Conversely, we've seen SonicFox for the first time ever put the fun stuff aside to get down to business in order to defend his EVO title. Sure, the two situations are on completely different levels of importance, so perhaps Infiltration wouldn’t be so loose had he been in the SonicFox hole. I say it’s pretty apparent that fun is essential to a player as well as achieving true victory and the aforementioned people personify that second to none.

Sometimes, it's the simple things that bring a smile & make all the difference.

It’s so very easy to forget in the heat of competition, the grind of training, doldrums of a plateau about the spark and core reason why any player plays… for fun. You can see it with the real exceptional players, even athletes; they eat, breathe, sleep and love their game. You play a game because it brings you enjoyment and seeking anything else on the path of victory is an incorrect approach including winning itself. It wouldn’t stop anyone with superficial motivations from taking a championship, but that would be the one of, if not the first reason why they didn’t win. Playing solely to win narrows the mind and stunts growth in a player because there is more to be learned and improved upon in losses than wins. These kinds of players become devastated and have nothing to take solace in when that win is denied; it’s the wrong mentality.

It is obvious that there is fun experienced in the heat of competition, but again, just how much is there exactly? Depending on the player or team, it varies from too little to too much. We’ve seen a player not taking the game or opponent serious enough or just be too lax so many times that it’s cliché. The same goes for players that take everything as serious as heart surgery. Striking the right balance of being loose and determined is the key to a meaningful win. The ones that check themselves during the game when they lean too far towards one side or the other stand out as the greats.

If there is anything to take away from this particular Parappa rap, it's that winning is a byproduct of having fun. The most revered players have it figured out and it sets them apart from the rest. If you, the reader, are struggling with finding that balance, I urge you to backtrack to your goal. Push yourself, but so as long as you keep the fun alive, it will translate to tangible results.

Until next time, think about it. *Exit, stage left*

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