Street Fighter and Integration
Now this could sound crazy or mundane to you; however, if you were an average, sheltered white-boy like me, you didn't come in contact with a lot of African-Americans (at least not in the best manners). And, to be honest, I wasn't even that sheltered. At lunch in school, the white kids sat together, and the black kids did the same. I had an occasional black friend (who basically acted white), but the only previous encounters with the opposite race had been fairly negative. I wasn't racist or anything, it just seemed like colored people and whites segregated themselves. It also didn't help that, at the age of six, I was kicked in the crotch by another kid (giving me a hernia that put me into surgery a month later), and when the teacher came to ask what happened, a black kid said ?the white boy did it? (referring to me). Then something changed when I got into fighters when I was thirteen. I was at ?Pocket Change? arcade playing Marvel vs Capcom 2. It was an alright little arcade up in the Dayton Mall. While I'm playing gimped teams that would never hold up in a tournament, these two big, black, ghetto-seeming dudes come up and said, in that thick voice, ?You plain' Marvel?? And I practically froze. My first thought was, ?I'm going to get mugged.? ?Y-Yes,? I studdered out, waiting for a threat. ?Aw man! I love Marvel! You mind if I play with you!?? one of the guys boomed out and sat down. We played and had a great time together. After losing, I stood up, the other guy sat down to play, and, afraid to put down my quarter, I left, still confused and nervous, spending the rest of the day walking blindly through the mall trying to make sense of it. Shortly thereafter, I met a black SNK fan at a gamestop. After talking, he asked me to bring in my controller and play some CvS2. We threw down and had a great time. Again. Now jump to the growing Street Fighter scene from 2009. When Street Fighter IV came out, I went to my first tournament. I played with many great black players, shook their hands, chatted strategy. It was awesome. In present, I go to tournaments and don't even notice the skin color of a person. And, better than that, I see other people having the same fun, whether they're Hispanic, Black, or White. And then I watch Mike Ross and Gootecks be inseparable best friends biasedly announcing for each other during Final Round and other tournaments (hilariously, so, I should note!). And it made me think back to all those videos I watched back in school about integration, and how useless it was. And why? Because it was just text in a textbook. At recess, we were still separated half the time. At lunch, the same. It was just some passive jargon that didn't take away from my rigid nerves from their accents, and sometimes, harsh words. Yet, fighting games made me more African-American friends than any attempt by the government or schools has ever achieved. I laugh at those fears I had back in grade school. And you know why? Because when we're throwing down haudokens, popping out shoryukens, chanting out to hype in our community, we're not white or black. We're Street Fighters.
Any thoughts on your experiences of how the fighting game scene has brought your community together in unique ways?