Welcome to the first installment of my interview series for Kick-Punch-Block! entitled: "Fight For Your Community". At KPB, we want to highlight the hard workers and the people behind the scenes that always do their best to shine a positive on our community. I’d like to kick this off with a gentleman that puts a little elbow grease into the local scene & beyond, and is a native New Yorker like the majority of us on our team. His name is Jason Laboy, better known to the FGC as Jason 24CF.
KPB.Roddyness: Just wanted to say thank you to Jason 24CF for being our first interviewee here for Kick-Punch-Block! & our new "Fight For Your Community" segment. For those that may not know, please tell our audience a little about who you are, origins of your handle/gamertag and what is, or what do you perceive to be, your current role(s) in the FGC? Jason 24CF: Thanks, I'm honored to be the 1st person you choose to interview. I can honestly say, you would have been better off interviewing a top player/popular figure in the FGC. I should know, that's what I did almost 4yrs ago. So a little bit about myself... I am a field reporter for Eventhubs.com. I attend events in the FGC and I try to connect fans to their favorite players via; photos, videos of gameplay and or interviews. I got my start in the FGC when interviewed Seth Killian about 4 years ago at [New York Comic Con]. Shortly after I became the team manager of Dominion Method Gaming, they are no longer active. As for my [Gamertag]; it has been with me for almost 20 years now. During my teenage years, I was a star athlete. I played baseball, football and basketball. My uniform number for my jersey was "24" in all 3 sports. As for the CF, it stands for "center field" which was the position I played as well as the sport I enjoyed playing the most. Also during the mid 90's, the same period I was playing sports, I used to tag up (Graffiti) all over NYC. As a way of changing it up, my teammates and I used to tag up our uniform number and position. So my GT has stuck with me close to 20+ years now and that's where it originates from. KPB: Thanks for the intro. I am personally a fan of EventHubs and I prefer it over most FGC sites today. (Except our own. :p Just playing) Outside of what I understand to be a busy schedule, what time if any do you devote to actual gameplay & what are your favorite titles and main characters used? Jason: I have no idea how many hours of SFIV I have logged in over the past 5 years. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago after seeing a video of Inthul, at the time one of the best players on the East Coast, while he competed at ECT2. I decided to take the game a little more seriously. I reached out to him and he then became my teacher. So to say, I owe a lot to him. I'm a SF guy, I have played the series for over 25 years. After a while I only focused on the titles that include my favorite character in Fei Long as I am a big Bruce Lee fan. If the game doesn’t have Fei in it, I won't invest a single second into that SF game. I don't play as much as before as I have other interest in photography/video, as well as my family duties. I'm a father of 2 daughters ages 14 & 5. My free time has shifted to the latter, which is spending more time with my family and photography.
KPB: Good or bad, what do you feel is the current state, today, of the FGC and if it applies, what have you been doing or planning to do to influence it's direction? Jason: The FGC has been on a slow decline if we are looking at it as a line chart. 3 years ago attendance and sponsorship were at an all time high! While attendance continues to grow, sponsorship has been on a slow decline. Again, while the scene is growing, sponsorship isn't. I am assuming sponsors weren't seeing much of a return on their investment. Which I can understand because my former team DMG, was the first American based team to every receive sponsorship from Mad Catz. Mad Catz I believe is the largest 3rd party developer for gaming related items and also the biggest supporter of the FGC. When Mad Catz contacted us and informed us that they were going to have to “cut back on expenses and sponsorships” I knew it was a sign of more things to come. They are the biggest provider in the FGC and if they are rethinking things, then it shows the return wasn’t as big as projected. Even Capcom has suffered some big loses and they too have changed many of their own polices. Can the FGC recover and grow? I believe they can, but they cannot alienate “casual players” or how most players like to refer to them, “SCRUBS”. When I say “they” I mean the hardcore players or “top players”. If the FGC only knew that the “hardcore” audience only accounts for about less than 5% of Capcom’s profits. If fighting games are not enjoyable to casual players, those casual players will give up on the game and they will never purchase future DLC of the fighting game. That just happens to be one of the outlets that help gaming companies net a profit. I really hate when I hear tournament players say, while at tournaments, “who cares? We don’t need them.” or “they never come to an event anyway”. This shouldn’t be the way the community looks at these potential members. The FGC shouldn’t be a “members only” kind of thing.
KPB: When I first approached you about this interview, you warned me that we may not get many hits as you felt that you are not liked in the FGC. Can you shed some light on that? Anything or anyone you need to put out there? Jason: Well I don't have the biggest following like say, Gootecks, Mike Ross or Ultra David. All those guys are amazing figures in the FGC and they have done a lot to help me throughout my time in the FGC. I have the upmost respect for them. Unlike those guys, I vent or rant more often on social media. I say what's on my mind regardless if it’s 100% accurate, smart, politically correct, and we know talking politics can open a can of worms. So I may rub people the wrong way with my opinions, or they may look at my rants as a form of a complaining man child. I recently have changed my behavior, and I am a bit more "PC" with my interactions on social media. Being affiliated with Eventhubs has exposed me and my opinions to a larger audience and I have been told that I can "influence others" with my opinions. Couple that with finding out I almost burned my relationship with an important entity in the FGC. I quickly changed the way I conduct myself on social media. So again, if you wanted “hits” or “traffic” for your site, you would have been better off reaching out to a bigger name. I don’t carry as much weight or interest as those gentlemen mentioned. But I am grateful for my fanbase. I just do the best I can to help expose the FGC to newer members and connect them in some way to their favorite players.
Jason 24CF with Evil Geniuses members K-Brad & FGC Team Manager Cool Gray AJ @ Pax East 2014.
KPB: How have you used your personal talents to benefit both your standing within our genre, and the various organizations you have been associated with in our community over the years? And what has the community returned to you for beneficial use in your personal life?
Jason: This is a good question. When I first started, my interview with Seth [Killian], I was just gathering info on my favorite character during the testing stages of Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. I shared the interview with my buddies on the forums and from there, it was shared with others. Next thing you know, it was posted to the front page of sites like, SRK, Iplaywinner and Eventhubs. So from that point I seen the positive reaction it received and I decided to conduct more interviews for the community. I didn’t care much for the production of my work because the FGC has a “grass roots/grimmey” or “hardcore” feeling. So I stuck with what I had which was an iPhone and or a iPad. I would purchase a few items here and there to improve my production, say for example a microphone, so the audio was more audible during my interviews. But all of that changed back at Spring Fighter 2013 which took place in my home state of New York. Someone else was hired to cover the event. I inquired with the people in charge, “why did you get that guy to cover the event, when I'm local and he isn't?” I was told, “While you have the views, content, and better presence, your production isn’t up to the standards for a company to use for promotion on its sites”. At that point I took out $2,000 from my savings, purchased my DSLR, with lenses, tripod, mics, memory cards and airplane ticket to CEO. I went into CEO2013 to make a statement. I said to myself, “I want to see what they will say this time”. At CEO 2013 I filmed 20 player interviews, took over 800 photos of the weekends festivities, filmed over 4 hours of “B-roll” footage, filmed 3 hours of time lapse photos, which I ended up losing due to a corrupt memory card. All this hard work paid off. I rekindled my love for photography, which I am now turning into a business, and I also have since received a few paying jobs to cover FGC events. Thank you Rick of Focus Fire! As my skills and production improve, I hope it grants me more opportunities to cover more events.
KPB: Any last words, remarks and/or shoutouts?
Jason: Let’s cut out some of the negativity. To us it may be “fun and games” or “trash talk” but to outsiders, it may appear as a stigma or a cancer. That attachment can hurt the growth of the community, if it just happens to be a person’s 1st interaction with the community. While the community has done amazing things to raise funds for relief for natural disasters, or helping with funeral cost for the passing of members of the community, minor things can get blown out of proportion and that news will hit more media outlets that covering gaming in general. Also this includes social media, public forums, and other outlets that are affiliated with the FGC. Thanks again for picking me for this interview, I again wouldn’t have gone this route with my interview, but I am still grateful. You can follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my YouTube channel and if you are interested in my photography work, you can check out my site "www.jason24cf.com". Lastly, I always tell people, “If I motivated one casual player to get up and attend a major/tournament (if that person just happened to be on the fence about attending) with my coverage. I did my job”. That one person can walk away with an amazing experience they can share that experience with his/her friends and that may the people who hear the great stories to attend a tournament and they too can then share their stories and it can be a progressive cycle of “GROWTH”.
Thanks so much, Jason. Again we like to focus on the people we think make a positive impact in our community. Hit us up on Twitter with the hashtag #ffyc and send us any ideas you have on who makes a difference in the FGC!