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Why The Fighting Game Community Is Color Blind
February 7, 2014 10:11 AM   Subscribe

...the fighting game community is one of the only communities out there where you're playing next to somebody — right there. There's no booths, there's nobody playing on the other side of the country or whatever. You're playing right next to each other.
How the [fighting game community's] roots grew the most racially diverse community in gaming.
posted by griphus (26 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tom Cannon is a pretty sweet gamer name, so he's got that going for him.
posted by echocollate at 10:51 AM on February 7


I think part of this is the relative size of scene. Fighting games don't have the entrenched power structures and money that things like DOTA and LoL do. EVO had a guaranteed $2000 payout for first place in Street Fighter 4. With money from proceeds, it was just under $6000. DOTA 2's The International tournament had a first place payout just shy of a million and a half. Money like that brings in sponsored teams, people doing it as their job, and sponsorships, and team houses.

It doesn't help there isn't that much money in it for the companies themselves. No one has really embraced the "funny hats" monetizing strategy that has worked so well for most of the DOTA crowd, I would think because of the non-online nature of playerbase. The traditional model of buying the game also works against them because the companies who create the game don't have as vested interest in the community as say, Riot does for LoL. In fact, at Evo last year Nintendo tried to stop them from having a Smash Brothers tournament for a while, before relenting.

The non-online also works against them because they can't really have the constant competition that only games like LoL have, so they can't get revenues from streaming, which is a big money maker in this day and age. Streams have to be run from places like EVO, and without the big bucks of the companies like Riot, and Valve behind them, getting stable bandwidth enough for the 3 or 4 streams to cover a tourney is really hard to do.

Without all that, the powers that be don't spend as much time trying to build a "meritocracy" of the best players, with all the underlying problems that may entail. Less brackets, less hoops to run through to show you are a professional. Because no one is playing fighting games professionally as a job.
posted by zabuni at 11:02 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I can't read the article because it's blocked at work, but I can't help but think the FGC doesn't deserve that much in the way of accolades for being color-blind. They've just channeled their hatred away from racism and into sexism and homophobia.

Previously.
posted by explosion at 11:03 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


They've just channeled their hatred away from racism and into sexism and homophobia.

Yep, there's a big chunk of the article dealing with exactly that.
posted by griphus at 11:06 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


Baby steps...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:13 AM on February 7


One of the most fun times I had in Korea was while I was chilling and waiting for my brother, so I stopped at a local arcade. I got a bit of a side eye from the queue, but once I kicked some asses with Hwoarang, it got super friendly. I just wish my King of Fighters skills weren't, like, 20 years out of date, since everybody seemed super into that and I barely ever see it at arcades here.
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah I don't remember KoF being super popular at the arcades I went to. There was never a line to play it or anything.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:38 PM on February 7


No one ever makes esports out of the kinds of games I enjoy playing. (Rampart!)
posted by JHarris at 12:45 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Yep, there's a big chunk of the article dealing with exactly that.

Which is to Polygon's credit, of course, but not to the fighting game community—that section of the article basically ends with saying the best solution might just be to wait until more women pick up fightsticks and change the male-female ratio to something less than, oh, 100-1. (To be fair, I don't know how many competitors Cross Assault 2012 had; I think the rough threshold for games featured at EVO is about 500 competitors, but perhaps Cross Assault is an order of magnitude smaller.) That's not exactly a great approach and doesn't at all address attitudes like Bakhtanians', which seems explicitly exclusionary (either you're okay with sexual harassment as a legitimate tactic or you're not one of us).

That stuff is separate from the racial equality stuff in the same way predominantly white feminists feel they have different problems and priorities from women of colour—which is to say, they're not really at all separate, but it's probably perceived that way by at least some members of the community. And that's not intended to take away from the genuine good that is racial harmony in the FGC, but rather to acknowledge there's still lots of work to do and I hope people in the FGC are willing to take that work on.
posted by chrominance at 1:04 PM on February 7


It sounds incredibly stupid but 15-year-old me felt like I was really scoring one for feminism when I used Chun Li to beat manly men playing Blanka and Zangief in Street Fighter 2. I don't think I ever saw a girl put a quarter on the screen for all of the pocketfuls I dumped into that machine. But ethnically? Yeah, mixed as hell.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:15 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


...saying the best solution might just be to wait until more women pick up fightsticks and change the male-female ratio...

That part was a little odd because what he proposes as the "most viable solution" actually sounds like the result of the solution.

As far as stuff like Bakhtanians' genuinely shitty attitude: the overarching response to that was "not okay." And while he'll have his defenders -- as any asshole in a high-profile position in a small community will -- I'd like to think that little moment of infamy was on the whole, a good thing for the FGC, just because it was a solid confirmation that what might seem to be okay because no one comments on it actually isn't and it's bad for everyone in the FGC and gaming in general to be brought to the forefront of the news like that.
posted by griphus at 1:41 PM on February 7


I just finished the article. Miller answers the question towards the end. You didn't need an expensive console and internet connection, and you didn't need to purchase the game, to pop a quarter into SFII. The barrier to entry starts with your economic status, which rarely favors minorities. I get the same notion from watching the Winter Olympics.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:50 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


As far as stuff like Bakhtanians' genuinely shitty attitude: the overarching response to that was "not okay." And while he'll have his defenders -- as any asshole in a high-profile position in a small community will -- I'd like to think that little moment of infamy was on the whole, a good thing for the FGC, just because it was a solid confirmation that what might seem to be okay because no one comments on it actually isn't and it's bad for everyone in the FGC and gaming in general to be brought to the forefront of the news like that.

Yeah, I agree. I didn't mean to imply that the FGC isn't doing anything about these attitudes, just that hoping the problem will solve itself won't. I think that's more just the author's insert than an actual strategy on the part of the FGC; it would've been nice to see the piece confront that more directly and ask, so what initiatives have tournaments, sponsors and players made to be more inclusive of women? Because I'm sure they're out there.
posted by chrominance at 3:00 PM on February 7


I vividly (and fondly) remember spending all my (unspent) lunch money beating the local boys at KoF and Metal Slug after school in Mexico. I am a girl.
posted by cobain_angel at 8:14 PM on February 7


Someone said Metal Slug, so I'm sorry but I have to say this, and it's best to get it out of the way quickly. So:

RAWKET LAWNCHA!
posted by JHarris at 8:22 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, fuck Metal Slug in the arcades. It was always the same cabinet as the other Neo Geo stuff (KoF, that bubble game), and it would just suck down quarters. It looked cool, but it was fucking murder.
posted by klangklangston at 8:34 PM on February 7


I can vouch it's possible to one-credit Metal Slug. Not that I can do it, or at least not without a whole lot of practice, but it's possible.

Ah, here's the end of a 1 credit run game. Note it's not actually perfect play -- he dies twice in the last level, but of course he starts with three lives.
posted by JHarris at 10:31 PM on February 7


RAWKET LAWNCHA
posted by JHarris at 10:33 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


In Mexico Metal Slug was a peso machine (at the time, ~10 American cents!). I remember easily spending 10 in trying to clear a level.
posted by cobain_angel at 11:17 PM on February 7


Admittedly, it's a game that I've only started to get really good at in emulation. But once you start focusing on it, I think you'll be surprised how far you can get on one coin. One of the best early Wii games you can buy, I think, is the Metal Slug Collection, which is seven of the games on one disk. Even if you look down your nose at 4-6, you still get 1-3, plus X (which is like an improved remix of 2).

And really, one of my favorite things about the MS games is that, despite what you might think, there are really few run-and-gun shooters that play more fair. Most of the enemy shots are huge, slow-moving, and flashing ominously. Most enemy soldiers don't kill you with a touch, but have to get off a knifing animation -- and you get that animation too. Then you bring in the METAL SLUG 001 itself, which gives you three hits, and with the opportunity to get more with a gas tank pickup. If you pop out of it, the game gives you like a couple of seconds of invulnerability with no drawbacks. It's like, what more do you expect from the game?

Well okay, you get to the last level and the game shows you it's still boss. You can still have a tremendously fun game up to that point though. Of course, this all assumes reasonable difficulty. If you're paying a peso a game, it seems likely that the operator ramped up the challenge.
posted by JHarris at 12:11 AM on February 8


(I could talk for quite a long time about Metal Slug. ♥♥♥)
posted by JHarris at 12:22 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Hwoarang Was the best part of Tekken for me. When I had some time to kill, I'd sit down in the arcade where they had the machines back to back, so you don't really see who you're playing. Hwoarang and Eddy were beautiful for button spamming, until inevitably, some twelve year old who'd actually learned the moves for some like Law would come along and destroy me in seconds.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:34 AM on February 8


"And really, one of my favorite things about the MS games is that, despite what you might think, there are really few run-and-gun shooters that play more fair. Most of the enemy shots are huge, slow-moving, and flashing ominously. Most enemy soldiers don't kill you with a touch, but have to get off a knifing animation -- and you get that animation too. Then you bring in the METAL SLUG 001 itself, which gives you three hits, and with the opportunity to get more with a gas tank pickup. If you pop out of it, the game gives you like a couple of seconds of invulnerability with no drawbacks. It's like, what more do you expect from the game?"

One of the things about MS in the arcade is that the arcade can turn up the difficulty. And while shots can be huge, flashing and slow, they can also effectively cover the entire screen.

The only non-fighting game I could ever one-credit was Elevator Action 2, which is still my favorite platformer ever. It's also about a thousand times easier in co-op, but then you have to keep both players alive because if one dies, it's harder than the 1p.

Aside from that, all my one-credits were fighting games, pretty much all of the Marvel-based ones until Marvel vs. Capcom 2, where I could never relearn the four-button attack scheme, even though it was supposed to be easier for casual players. I had gotten so many juggles to just be muscle memory that I'd regularly fuck 'em up. But I loved Tekken and Soul Caliber too (every now and then I like to stroll down to the local arcade and school somebody with Taki, since so many folks play tanks on that and are just baffled on how to deal with fast sweeps and sidesteps).

Hwoarang Was the best part of Tekken for me. When I had some time to kill, I'd sit down in the arcade where they had the machines back to back, so you don't really see who you're playing. Hwoarang and Eddy were beautiful for button spamming, until inevitably, some twelve year old who'd actually learned the moves for some like Law would come along and destroy me in seconds."

Hwoarang was the character I learned first to beat my roommate, who would legit train with Yoshi or Heihachi. Hwoarang had a fast enough jab to interrupt Heihachi, and a long enough reach to stay away from Yoshi (who had the fastest jab). But since Tekken Tag was always my favorite, I got good with a pretty wide mix — usually one bruiser, one combo character. Hwoarang with Brian was usually my go-to if I was getting my ass kicked with someone else, but I loved Jun and Lei's styles, and I got pretty solid with Kazuya. Somebody who's really good with Jin can still usually beat me, or occasionally someone who's really practiced King. I could only ever get off about half of his ultimate grapple. (I also liked that they had Tetsujin and Mokujin, which help you get better with everybody, at random.)

I never got super huge into the SF franchise — I thought that Ken and Ryu were kinda boring to play, and folks like Guile are so dependent on the sensitivity of the cabinet for those charge moves. I did like Cammy and Sakura though, and got weirdly good with Dan.

Uh, yeah, so I spent more than a little of my wasted youth playing video games in arcades, and wish there were more of them around (and wish that my local didn't so consistently have sticky buttons).
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as for button spamming — someone who knows what they're doing will eat Eddy alive every time. It's rare to see someone actually get good at him because the button spamming is so much of the intro play, but that means that he's super vulnerable to jabs, parries and launches.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on February 8


Eddy definitely falls apart if you don't know how to use him. The thing I've noticed, especially on playstation, is that Tekken is all about rhythm, and in some ways, if you figure out the rhythm of a character like Hwoarang, you've got access to most all of his moves. Other characters, lord, I can't figure out to save my life. Heihachi, Brian, even Law, I was never any good with those.

On the other hand, the most fun is the bear, complete with making grrrr, rrrrr, rrrr noises when you do the grapple that involves eating the opponent's face, closely followed by King and his Frankensteiner of doom/unfairness.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:57 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


"The thing I've noticed, especially on playstation, is that Tekken is all about rhythm, and in some ways, if you figure out the rhythm of a character like Hwoarang, you've got access to most all of his moves. Other characters, lord, I can't figure out to save my life. Heihachi, Brian, even Law, I was never any good with those. "

Law can get button spammy, especially since he has an infinite combo. But you're totally right about rhythm and Hwoarang's really one of my favorites for it — he has a couple combos that are basically an interrupt jab-jab, then bring out the kicks that would be too slow otherwise and just can cream somebody in three or four hits. It's like a tap-tap-boom-boom-boom thing.

Heihachi and Bryan are kind of similar, in that both of them have a lot of power and move slowly — Heihachi has a lot of parries and complicated combos, Bryan has a lot of sidestep and charge moves. If you can learn to do one of Heihachi's ten-hit combos, you can essentially kill in one sequence. Heihachi has less reach than Bryan, but a lot more variety in his moves and he shares a lot with Jin and Kazuya (Tekken did a great job with variations in a family). I would still take Kazuya over Heihachi — he's got better speed, and his punch combos are easier to get off — but if you wait for moments where the other guy has missed a combo or something and has the couple of frames of recovery, Heihachi can do the hand blast, the spinning low kick and the unblockable uppercut all in one combo.

What I really liked about Bryan is that he makes a good contrast to a precision character, and he has three really hard moves to defend against — the charge punch, the leg sweep and the sidestep kick to grapple. Up against someone like Law who is fast but doesn't have great reach, you can keep your distance and land some devastating punches, then when they come in, even if your sidestep kick misses, the grapple is right there, and side grapples do a shit-ton of damage. I also like that he has a punch throw combo (the fisherman's hook), where he lands the gut punch and turns it into a slam that launches the other character — Bryan's got enough jab combos to keep juggling then.

For people getting into Tekken, I'd recommend learning a couple launch moves, a juggle combo and one power strike. Any character that you can get that down, you've got the basics for beating half the people you'll see in an arcade, where they'll just try to button spam or hadouken.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on February 9


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