This was something I wrote weeks ago for Tekken Nation in regards to that word that's been thrown away WAY too often these days, "trolling."
As we inch ever so closer to the release of the One Game of Prophecy, Street Fighter x Tekken, there has been a word thrown around quite often that elicits a feeling of helplessness and betrayal: “trolling.” Heihachi has been translated into a new art medium: “He looks like Dr. Wily! Capcom is trolling!” A new system mechanic has been added, “Gems are making the game scrub-friendly! Capcom is trolling!”
And most recently, we had the reveal of Mega Man (note the space in between, separating him from Rockman and his contemporaries). Now, this guy was originally going to show up in the cancelled Megaman Universe, but since Mr. Inafune left Capcom in a huff, that got nixed along with Megaman Legends 3. So Yoshinori Ono gave his old mentor Inafune a call and asked if he could put Megaman in SFxT. Mr. Inafune, in one form or another, told him that he’d prefer Mega Man, otherwise known as Bad Box Art Megaman or USA Megaman.
I personally like to imagine that salty Inafune told Ono to bugger off and left Ono to his own devices to figure out how he could please the Capcom brass, but that’s just me.
Yoshinori Ono, to the outside world, is the producer of Street Fighter and credited with finally pulling the franchise out of the cutting room floor and creating the long-awaited Street Fighter IV, simultaneously giving the fighting game world a huge shot in the arm and opening the floodgates for things like Mortal Kombat 9 and King of Fighters XII. To those who keep their pulse on fighting game news, however, he is perhaps the most hated man in the community thanks to his radical ideas and above all, “his trolling.” Between his Blanka toy, his unintelligible tweets, his goofy mannerisms and his wacky facial expressions, this man is a stark contrast to the often serious and taciturn world that is the fighting game community.
The world trolling has been around since at least the 1990s, but it hasn’t really come into prominence until the last few years, with the advent of the trollface. Despite its unassuming name, the term has gained malicious undertones and is often used to describe a “bait-and-switch” and a deep sense of hatred and betrayal for the one accused of trolling. Thanks to this, the term has been tossed around quite often, especially involving Capcom. It seems to EVERY single thing that doesn’t go exactly as planned is trolling.
Megaman X is in as Zero’s DLC costume? Trolling.
Kuma’s alternate in SFxT is Mika’s costume? Trolling.
Karin Kanzuki didn’t make the cut? Bad Box Art Megaman confirmed? No Megaman Legends 3 (which was probably going to suck anyway, given Inafune’s recent track record of Final Fight Streetwise, Lost Planet 2, and the NEW Bionic Commando)? Trolling trolling trolling, on this dreary day! Trolling trolling trolling, salty all the way!
Gather ‘round, young ones, for we shall now go back in time, as late as 10 years ago. You see, before the advent of the trollface, stuff like the Zero DLC costume, Mika cosplay, and BBA Megaman were not considered troll moves. Back then, they were called “easter eggs.” Easter eggs are defined as intentional hidden messages, jokes, or in-game features. Great examples include the many hidden features in the early Mortal Kombat games, or background cameo appearances. Further examples of easter eggs would be being able to play as Servbot in MVC2, the first appearance of Evil Ryu in SFA2, or pretty much any “secret character code” that you had to enter in the arcades before everything was laid out for us on the select screen from the get-go.
Nowadays people go into a depressed stupor the moment they see someone they like hanging out in the background. What used to be considered an “easter egg” is now a cry of anguish as their character has now been disconfirmed. The same goes for seeing their characters as DLC outfits for other characters, or having their characters show up in someone’s ending. SNK does this a lot too but they don’t get nearly the flak for it Capcom does, probably because their fanbase is a lot quieter and is grateful for any SNK game that isn’t complete trash, which apart from KOFXIII has become frighteningly commonplace.
Capcom has a much, much higher standard they have to maintain as for years they have been one of the game-making juggernauts with games like Street Fighter, the Vs. series, Megaman, Phoenix Wright, Sengoku Basara, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Monster Hunter. Unfortunately, the bitter truth is that the larger the fanbase, the larger the ratio of “hand biters” we get.
What is a hand biter? This is a term that I’m using to describe a trend that seems to have really risen into prominence with the advent of Twitter, especially now that game developers have them. Last December I talked about how the Jun fandom has been looked at in a negative light due to recent events with how she was revealed to be Unknown, but it was consistent fan support that got her into TTT2 in the first place. As SFxT has loomed closer, we’ve had the Karin and Mika fanbases come out of their hidey-holes and harass Ono about them being in SFxT. Ono, perhaps sensing the possibility of adding them for an AE update down the line (all future SFxT installments will be via DLC if/when it comes to that), leads them along while eventually dropping that Kuma alternate to tide them over.
And predictably, the fandom rages. Cries of trolling ring throughout Capcom-Unity and Shoryuken. What was once an easter egg is now a troll move, and any kind of good intentions that might have gone into these easter eggs has been construed as a personal attack. This is a trend that has become unsettlingly commonplace in today’s internet and doesn’t really speak highly of us as a generation.
It sends a message that if something doesn’t go our way exactly as we intended, we just complain and whine until something changes. There are a LOT of things wrong with acting this way, as apart from it having no positive outcomes in the real world, it blinds us to the bigger picture. There were a lot of complaints about there being no Megaman in Mahvel (though Zero was everything Megaman was in MVC and more, completely with having The Bosch~ as a VA), and now that there’s a Megaman in SFxT, there’s even more hate than before.
“Oh, but it’s not OUR Megaman!”
“Oh, that’s not Jun! It’s her evil sister!”
“Kuma in a Mika outfit!?”
It’s a dumb argument that explained to a complete outsider makes the fandom look like a bunch of whiny losers akin to some of the more unsavory fandoms out there, like the often-mocked Twilight fandom. So for the sake of our reputation as a generation, do not be a hand biter. Take these things and stride and be more open to new ideas. Trust me, as silly as SFxT looks, it’s nowhere close to outright bad: if anything, this is will be an amazing game to teach fundamental fighting game skills that will extend to any other fighting game you’ll play (a key reason to why I love Street Fighter IV so much).
Although when TTT2 comes out and Kunimitsu still isn’t in, you can bet I’ll say Harada is trolling me!