Hello SRK. I’ve been actively following the scene for over a year now, and have combined my two passions (fighting games & writing) to produce my very first attempt at an essay with plenty of thought and enjoyment. Criticism and reviews would be incredibly appreciated.
Late to the Party
I’m not ashamed to admit that I properly joined the fighting game community in 2010, after spending several years as a passive fan. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this earns me the dubious label of “scrub”. However, apart from being branded with this derogatory name, I believe that by being late to the proverbial party brings with it many advantages over those who’ve paved the way for me.
There is no doubt that most of these advantages have been unlocked thanks to the internet. Many nostalgia-goggled critics would argue that it’s ruined the once sacred FG scene, plaguing it with an influx of clueless casuals and depersonalizing a community that placed heavy emphasis on face-to-face interaction. Yet for me, a whippersnapper scrub, the internet is a blessing.
Whereas my FG elders had to trade tapes in darkened arcade corners and pray that their clunky VH Systems wouldn’t chew the precious footage of Alex Valle battling his way to victory at B3, I’m merely several clicks away from a near-infinite library of videos covering a near-infinite range of fighting games and FG-related topics.
Along with instant footage, the internet additionally provides endless streams of guidance. The sheer quantity of tips and tutorials available is mind-blowing and gives me all the tools I need to perfect my abilities, without first emptying my wallet into an arcade cabinet. I can’t even begin to imagine how limited these seasoned FG veterans must have been in their quest for knowledge, relying mainly on word-of-mouth and peeking over the shoulders of their fellow players at the arcades.
Online play is another gift made possible by the internet. In days gone by, whenever players yearned for human competition, they’d have two options: crack open the piggy bank and feed their local arcades with all the pennies they’d saved since the last visit or invite a bunch of friends over and conduct battle in their basements. The consolization of fighting games itself was a blessing (or a curse, considering the current state of western arcades) because it allowed such FG enthusiasts to enjoy the wonders of Street Fighter II without even leaving the comfort of their homes. Now, in the 21st century, it isn’t even necessary to step out the front door to lock horns with real-life opponents.
Whilst I doubt anybody would agree with the opinion that online gaming will never rival the thrill and lagless existence of offline, I believe only a small minority would argue that it has no place in the FG community. It provides me with an immediate gateway to non-CPU competition that I can communicate with and fine-tune my skills against, whilst at the same time serving a sufficient replacement whenever a local scene isn’t available.
HOWEVER (!), being a 21st century FG warrior isn’t all roses and sunshine, and nothing short of a time machine would ever return the many iconic elements that made the FG community such a wonderful scene to be part of before the turn of the millennium.
There’s a common phrase that sums up this portion of the article: “You can’t miss what you never had.” This explains why I can’t visualize being surrounded by hordes of FG extremists hunched over arcade booths, the air filled with the sound of frantic button-bashing and cigarette-spewed smog. Yet for those that were lucky enough to experience such an era, I can understand why they’d wish for its resurrection.
I take for granted how easy it is to involve myself with the FG scene nowadays, and often underappreciate the wealth of advice and information at my fingertips. I also realize that I’ll never truly experience the insurmountable delight of standing side-by-side with an actual opponent and share strategies after being completely wrecked by a 16-bit Chun-Li. Instead, I’ll have to experience frustrating lag-fests with virtual avatars and share pointless rage-mail after being completely wrecked by a nameless, faceless stranger halfway across the globe.
If your attention span has survived to this point, then congratulations. I’ll end this article now before I kill you through boredom with this final conclusion: Each FG generation has not only the responsibility to lay the foundations for the generation that will precede them, but the obligation to appreciate everything that the previous generation has generously left behind. Whilst I’m glad to have joined the FG community at the time that I have and eagerly await what the future holds, I respect how the “Old School” have moulded the scene I enjoy today.