I think this article is extremely relevant to fighting games. A lot of people seem to think that skill (being psychic/having good yomi) and not knowledge is what makes experts great at fighting games, but ever since my experience in Japan, I have disagreed with that. The Japanese understanding of fighting games (which I now share) is that the player with the most knowledge of the game (especially their character and the character matchup) will win.
The thing is, you can sink 10,000 hours into a fighting game and still not be very good; but that’s if you’re not actually trying to learn anything new or forcing yourself to adjust through stronger opponents. Arcade environments certainly contribute to that knowledge development, but personally, I like to study videos and Japanese strategy guides as a supplement for that since I don’t have as much time as I would like to play at the arcade.
If you’re in an area without an arcade, I think that supplements to deepen your knowledge of the game go from “optional” to “absolutely necessary”. We do get guys out of the woodwork every year who are great at a game, and I guarantee that this is never a coincidence. Of course, with the improvement of online thanks to GGPO, this is another option for those players, but only for older games unless the SF4 netcode is really good.
Anyway, I hope this sways some of your opinions about fighting game skill, especially those of you who are discouraged because you’re not a “natural”. Remember that the 26-year old Daigo played 7 hours a day on average from age 14-18. He was also the first SF4 player with over 10,000 wins on his data card. Justin Wong was “the bully who took everyone’s money at CF after school” before becoming the 5-consecutive-year MVC2 champion. Alex Valle worked at SHGL from age 14.
There is no such thing as a natural! Anybody can win with enough effort.