I love fighting games, love them. I picked up Street Fighter X Tekken last week instead of Mass Effect 3 (and I am heavily invested in Mass Effect having taken my Shepard through ME and ME2).
I only very recently realized that I had a pretty impressive collection of fighting games, including some gems like Power Stone 2, Rival Schools and a few Darkstalkers Games. I even had an appreciation of Ehrgeiz back in the day. I also have a very well-informed and knowledgeable understanding of fighting games and their history. I'm a pretty big fan.
I love the complexity of fighting games, the intricacy of their combat systems, the thrill of head-to-head rivalry. Few other genres of game offer up as much variety in character designs. Plus, fighting games, for me, have a much longer playable lifespan, as they don't really have any kind of "end state" or completion (there's a whole planet of opponents out there). Like I said, I love fighting games.
Here's the rub... I'm not very good at them.
Now, I do stress the "very". I have a good understanding of them, and always take the time to learn the intricacies of the combat system and to understand the advanced tactics required to participate at a high-level (I'm not a so-called "button masher"). I've just found that those who are very good at fighting games, are very good at them. And I've found myself settling in around the lower end of the fighting game food chain.
And you know what? I'm fine with that.
Because being "the best" at something is not the same thing as being a fan and appreciating it for what it is. I'm a big fan of fighting games because I appreciate their complexity and I have a lot of fun playing them. And it's weird how "playing for fun" is a rare thing these days.
With the growing popularity of online and competitive gaming, I think that many gamers have forgotten what games are really about... fun (please, correct me if you think I'm wrong).
Now, don't get me wrong... there's a time and place for "real" competition. The annual EVO Championship is the biggest fighting game championship held in North America. Players come from all over the world to compete. It's a great showcase of fighting game players and you can witness some awesome moments.
But, outside of EVO, some players can take the competitive spirit too far. Recently, there have been some comments from members of the hard-core fighting game community saying that sexual harassment and discrimination are "part of the culture". This was prompted by derogatory comments made by participants in an online fighting game broadcast. One player was taunting his female opponent in an extremely demeaning manner.
Since the incident, apologies have been made, and even more importantly, leading members of the community have called for accountability and responsibility. This is good to hear, and I hope that the message is that this kind of behavior should be discouraged and severely frowned upon. This is absolutely an example of a few rotten apples spoiling a bunch.
I love video games, more than almost anyone I know. I'm making a career out of them. And I always take pride in the fact that, regardless of how seriously I take gaming (which is a lot), I have never forgotten that fun is central to the medium. And I will never forget that.
Now, how about a friendly match?