So my colleague at work asked me, ?So, you like video games eh? What games do you play??
I replied, ?Really just one game, Street Fighter?. I?ve been playing for about 18 years.
She replied, eyes gleaming, ?Wow, and did you beat the game yet??
I replied with a slight smirk on my face, ?not yet?.
I don?t often talk to many people about playing Street Fighter. It?s something that I?ve been playing on and off for the past 18 years and for the most part I like to keep it to myself. However, today I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences with the game that has helped shape the person that I have become.
To understand how the game influenced me, I must recall my earliest experience with the game Street Fighter II ? The World Warrior. I remember vividly that my local café shop had an arcade game that my cousin told me to play. I remember there was a big crowd around one arcade machine and there was this intensity in the air that you could really feel. I was a smaller kid, only 11 at the time, and I could barely see what was going on. My view was blocked by kids viciously button mashing and all I could really see was some Vega artwork on the front machine and cigarette burns on the arcade ash tray from players leaving the cigarettes on the cabinet. I waited patiently as I waited for my quarter to finally come to the front as I watched one older kid beat out all the younger kids. I was nervous to say the least but I picked, ?the guy in the red?, because I thought he looked cool. There were so many buttons to press I really didn?t know what to do. I press the buttons literally because I thought a ?Strong? and ?Roundhouse? would produce a ?Strong-Roundhouse? if pressed together. I was defeated quite easily.
I lowered my head and politely walked away to the back of the crowd to let someone else play. I became afraid to play and I was embarrassed that someone had beaten me so easily. This wasn?t a game like, ?Bad Dudes?, where if I pressed buttons faster I would win.
My first experience with the game was riddled in failure and I think I let it get to me. I didn?t play again that afternoon and went home thinking I would go back when it wasn?t so busy. In retrospect I wish I had put in another quarter and try again. I don?t think I quite understood the depth of the game at the time, but I had a sense that I would actually have to practice to become better.
I eventually did become better. I wasn?t going to win any tournaments, but I knew basic combos and understood most of the characters. However, like many people in the Street Fighter scene, I became interested in other games and eventually drifted away from fighting games. Oddly enough, I would always have a copy of street fighter no matter what console I had, but I would play mindlessly against the computer beating it on hard when I had time to kill. The arcade scene was dying and the crowds of Street Fighter II were no more.
It wasn?t until XBOX live that Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting was made a downloadable game and more importantly XBOX live was introduced in the mix. I thought to myself that I was pretty good playing the computer and that playing online should be no different. I was really excited to play and I picked Ken again simply because I understood his basic game. I was facing a Balrog and didn?t really know what to expect. This Balrog tore me apart and for a moment I wish I were that little kid getting smoked in that cafe a couple years back. This Balrog introduced me to mix-ups, cross ups, proper spacing, and effective use of a jab. The game ended quickly and I turned off my XBOX thinking it?s too hard. In this moment I think back and really wish I played him again in a rematch. I felt again, like that little kid who when defeated would just retreat. I didn?t understand losing was apart of the game.
A couple years passed and Street Fighter IV just came out on consoles.
My first player match on Street Fighter IV was a completely new experience. It was just like the arcades but from the comfort of your home. My skills were much improved over the years but I still had a lot to learn.
I had one memorable set of matches between a Balrog and he won the first game. He was good, and continued to win the second and third game. For some reason, in this moment, I continued to keep playing. I was frustrated and upset that I couldn?t win. Something inside me told me, ?No matter how many times he beats me, you will be better because of it. I finally won one after nine straight losses. When I think about the set of matches now, I think, ?Why didn?t I do this for anything else in my life? Why didn?t I just put in that quarter and try again? Why didn?t I hit rematch against the Balrog? Why did I continue to make the same mistakes twice??
I think Vince Lombardi said it best, ?If you can accept losing, you can?t win?.
Street Fighter can be as frustrating as enjoyable. You are at times at the mercy of your opponent and you can feel as if you two steps behind. Street Fighter will allow you to make mistakes and it?s up to the individual to learn from them.
I?m humbled at the thought that I?m part of a community that has such a deep grounding on discipline and patience. My experience with the game has always been for the better and will continue to play even as I get older.
I will always look at life head on and not be afraid to put another quarter in and try again.