If you're still with me on this, thanks for sticking around. I digressed right before addressing the metaphorical elephant in the room, but today will see my train of thought reach its destination. Brace yourself, though, because I don't think this is going to be a comfortable ride for everyone...
As I mentioned last time, all of this took place at GameaCon's Ultra Rage. It could have been the start of something big; a new foothold for the FGC is a desired location. We -- and I need to stress that word, we -- could have laid claim to fertile territory. There was a great deal that could have been done with this event, but when opportunity came knocking, we treated it like a Jehovah's witness on Saturday morning after an especially difficult week... which is to say that we let it pass us by with nary a second thought. I know how difficult this might sound to picture in your minds, but that's (quite ironically) because you had to be there to experience what I could only describe as a vacuum.
At this moment, I feel the need to point out that the FGC wasn't alone at this event. The SMASH crowd were in attendance, as well. The key difference to their involvement with Ultra Rage? They came out in force. That will always be the underlying difference between our respective communities: they will ALWAYS come out for their game. Learned that the hard way by watching the door/gate for back-to-back APEX tournaments. Seriously, after the debacle of this year's APEX & its relocation, I am convinced nothing short of divine intervention will deter a SMASH player from getting their games in. It's a noble characteristic, don't get me wrong... but it does show us up a bit too often, don't you think?
Earlier on, I made mention of the comfort zone mentality and that right there is ultimately part of what's really holding us back. What's most disturbing about it is how invasive it's become. Slowly & surely, that mentality has infected almost every aspect of the FGC. Under the guises of complacency, spite, greed & more, the comfort zone mentality tricks us into thinking that digging in behind someone or something generally familiar to us is totally justifiable. If something doesn't meet our preconceived standards, regardless of how much time & effort went into it, we brush it off. If it doesn't come from our usual source, we pay it no mind. If it's out of our way, we don't make an effort to venture out. Are you noticing the pattern yet? Furthermore, do you realize how dangerous & counterproductive such a dismissive mindset has the potential to be in the grand scheme of things?
If I can paraphrase V for Vendetta for a hot second, I can appreciate the comfort of routine, the security of the familiar & the tranquility of repetition as much as anyone. However, I can't let any of those dictate who I am -- as a person or as a gamer. As much as I love fighting games, they haven't comprised the whole of my gaming life. Yeah, they're a priority, but variety is the spice of life. Sometimes I need a deep & engaging plot... other times, I run with hack 'n slash to blow off some steam... and every now & again, not too often but on occasion, I feel like diving head first into a AAA title. That very attitude has to be applied to how I approach different events. If not, I'd still be that kid in the arcade that only watched while others were dumping quarter after quarter into their machine of choice to enjoy the experience & possibly raise their skill level.
To prove my point, I'll take this a step further & go personal. When I was first approached to join Kick-Punch-Block, I signed on with the intention of just being muscle. I had no problem whatsoever being the team's go-for. If I attended an event & there was an errand needed running, I'd be all over it. As subservient/submissive as that seems, it was where I was comfortable. Partially because it covered up the fact that I was nowhere near competent enough to ever seriously compete, but primarily because it absolved me from a lot of responsibility. Yes, that was admittedly a scumbag way of approaching things, won't argue that. However, fate pushed me out of my comfort zone. During our Madden Madness series, the team needed someone with football experience to commentate. At that given moment, I was the only one who fit that bill. In doing so, people both on the team and off encouraged me to do it regularly. It took a little twisting of the proverbial arm because -- you might not believe this, but it's true -- I'm actually very insecure about the sound of my voice.
Ever since then, things have escalated steadily. I've taken on more responsibility within the team (i.e., you're reading this right now) and I've slowly grown into my role as the "Voice of KPB". In my own way, I've become a somewhat mildly recognizable figure in the region and have even been able to enjoy the fraternity & hospitality of different groups throughout the FGC. All of that became possible because (say it with me now) I left my comfort zone. Look, I understand that xenophobia can be crippling at times... especially when you can't recognize it for what it is. But I'm here to tell you, from firsthand experience, that the pros of responsibly venturing out into the unknown from time to time far outweigh the cons. All any of us will ever have to do is simply take the risk of trying, doing and/or going towards something new. Trust me, it'll be a welcome learning experience
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.