The scene doesn’t need superstars, but as people treat the game increasingly like a spectator sport they’re gonna treat people more like sport stars. Seriously, it’s mostly the people who don’t go out to events but are more likely to stay home and watch the stream who think of the ‘star players’ as they would a celebrity.
Is this a bad thing? Not yet, it’s certainly good for Super (which most of the ‘star players’ play) as sponsers tend to like to have popuar players to brand; but smaller games like melty blood or Blazeblue might suffer from a lack of star power.
You can’t tell me that if Daigo dropped Super today to start playing Arcana exclusively, that a thousand or more of the fanboys would do the same.
I think this is a really interesting question. I don’t think that it’s as much that the fighting game scene “needs” anything, as that it has naturally developed. With the scene moving from underground to mainstream thanks to the release of SF4 and the resurgence of the genre, the fighting game community has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple years.
Players that were elite within a small, local community of friends, and to be honest, probably thought nothing of it 5 years ago, now have the opportunity to step into the spotlight with the added attention on the scene. I think for players like Mike and Valle, for example, the circumstances surrounding them dictated their rise into mainstream gaming culture. Not to say that they didn’t play their own part in proactively moving towards “fighting game superstardom,” but without the support of the internet (SRK, youtube, worldwide connectivity/fanbase), and the influx of new SF4 players, the situation may not have been the same.
I think Daigo is a pretty good example. He had absolutely no self-promotion, as far as I can remember. Daigo’s only form of self-promotion was competition (and importantly, wining), which was something he had been doing forever. Because the scene has now expanded rapidly, and whether it’s to the detriment of the community or not, is slowly transitioning into a spectator driven event, Daigo is being exposed to more fans than ever before, whether or not he likes it. Evo this past year had 48,000 people watching at its peak. Majors now are breaking 10,000, where actual attendees are only a fraction of that. Only 2 years ago there were no streams at all, the only people attending and watching were the players there. It starts to make sense that spectators, new players, and enthusiasts will take an interest in the politics and history of the community (as well as the players), the size and magnitude just on a much greater scale than a few years ago.
I think it’s interesting that everyone so far has commented on the effect that these “superstars” have on the community. Not to come off as overly apologetic, but thinking about it the other way around, how do these players feel being thrust into the spotlight, because, like I said, it’s much more their circumstances that determined their popularity, most of them have played like they always have. That’s also not to say that players don’t enjoy or even seek out their new found fame, just to look at it from a different perspective.
It seems like everyone doesn’t want the fighting game community to (what I think it will eventually become) evolve to the level of the Starcraft Scene in South Korea. It’s interesting to see how some people don’t want there to be a crowd that just enjoys watching high level play and enjoys rooting for a favorite player.
Doesn’t that just slow down the growth of the community as a whole?
There are people who enjoy watching MMA or Boxing matches, but don’t compete because they enjoy watching more than they do training to become a beast.
From the standpoint of the players thrust into the limelight, there are ups and downs… some like it; some don’t. Some of the players love all the attention… others just want the money/sponsorship, and don’t want the nonsense. That’s natural.
I don’t think anyone (outside of, maybe, some scorned stream monster) is demonizing the players, themselves. For my part, as a player that was around for the last generation… clashing with these players, even ones I don’t like personally (I stress "personally, since this is based on personal experience, and not trolling youtube), or ones I know are serious attention whores, there’s always a level of respect for anyone I’ve played in tournament… win or lose.
The issue, as a lot of us see it, is that I really don’t want to hear shit from somebody that’s never been involved. I don’t want to read your youtube comments on my game. I don’t want you to have any say on how tournaments (that you don’t attend) run. I don’t want to hear your shitty opinion on the personalities of some people I consider personal friends. That’s just me.
All the fans haven’t translated into any real gain for me. The player base is larger, sure, but it’s also less skilled, so I get no benefit from that… I have no goal of being sponsored… it’s pretty much just served as an annoyance, more often than not.
If there was less fan culture, and more cut throat players popping up, I’d be happy… but there are so few new players that contribute anything worthwhile…
I believe you are focusing on the wrong things. For example I enjoy playing and watching Mahjong matches, Though I don’t plan on becoming pro, but I’m an avid watcher. I don’t see how myself watching a game or having a favorite player will influence the community negatively. Another example poker, there are pro poker players and it’s not big enough that it’s on TV and there are giant tournaments. How does one who causally plays or just enjoys watching People play poker affect the community negatively?
Because then I have to complain about nonexistent problems with the fighting game community. Kind of like we’re doing now. I like red herrings though. This new spectator sport thing could become as big as bringing up the topic of immigrants to a conservative.
Also, you’re crazy if you think the fighting game community will ever reach South Korea Starcraft status.
Most top players don’t play anywhere near as much as you would think.
As for the whole “what’s it hurt to spectate” mindset, the issue comes in that organizers start making decisions based on the stream, instead of the players that are actually there. Take last year’s poll on the final Evo game. Not to say it didn’t turn out well, but there were so many votes cast by players that didn’t actually play any of the games in question, and weren’t even going to Vegas… yet they have the same say as a guy that actually plays.
The culture, on the whole, is visibly changing because of the sensibilities of players that only exist as some random forum name, and never show up anywhere. There’s a problem with that.
Hav you bring up a good point! And at the same time I feel like there should be no reason to accommodate stream monsters, but to cater to the people who are actually in the tournament. If tournament organizers are caring more about the stream monsters then I completely agree with how it can affect the community/ tournament negatively.
No… they play smarter, not necessarily more. Some of them go to a lot of tournaments, but most just hit the ones in drving distance. Some guys are all over the place now, but that has much more to do with sponsorship than play time. Even at these tournaments, the top guys spend the bulk of their time chilling while the shitty players play all weekend.
I think that’s the main detriment in an otherwise positive evolution for the scene. With the massive influx of players you’re going to have an overall drop in skill level. Even if you have the same amount of skilled players, just by bringing in all these new players the overall skill level of the community as a whole decreases. This of course leads to a greater skill gulf between the top level players, the mid level players and the new players (and all the sub levels between them). A larger scene leads to a lack of intimacy, accessibility and selectivity. The trade off being a longer lifespan, potential for new games, more events, basically an overall increase in the activity and potential of the scene. For almost all players, pro gaming is not a possibility, but for a handful, it is, and it wouldn’t be possible without the expansion of the scene. Again that all comes with a trade off like you were talking about Hav.
Yeah I definitely think some of the issues get overblown, but they’re interesting to discuss. The thing is, they’re out of anyone’s control really, you can’t limit the growth of the scene, or rewind to a time when the scene was smaller, more local and selective, so all you can do now is discuss the implications of a rapidly growing fanbase coming to a once very private community.
I think that’s really interesting, cause, at least for now, it’s still the players and TOs that dictate the events, since they are the ones financing the events. Like you alluded to Hav, it’s as if Evo was catering more towards the spectators than the actual competitors at the event, which, to be honest, makes sense from their perspective. The scene (probably said this 50 times) is rapidly expanding, and now would be the perfect time for an organization like Evo to capitalize on that by drawing in outside sponsors and viewers. In order to make the event more appealing, they need games that the spectators want to watch, so they give everyone an equal vote, because although there are 3,000 people attending, their are 48,000 people watching. In the end, the viewing audience takes precedence because it has the most potential. At least that’s how I see it, I’m not trying to presume anything that the Cannon’s are doing, everything they’ve done has been in the best interest of the community.