I’m the same age and in the exact same situation as you thread starter (minus the power ranger and transformer figurines). I have been playing games my whole life but never got into the fighting games. I played Street fighter II when it came out but being that I never seen the arcade scene it was just a very very casual button mashing game for me that I played for fun. The necessary requirement, I believe, is being introduced to arcades when the game was out a long time ago; to build that competition and actually getting good.
I didn’t even buy SF4. I bought SSF4 a few months after it came out because I was at someones house that had it and I was getting spanked in it, hard by everyone, I might as well have closed my eyes and randomly hit buttons. The desire to get it and dominate everyone that beat me that day, was a challenge that sparked my interest of playing. Watching EVO makes me want to play even more because of how hyped the crowd is and how amped up I get just hearing the crowd and watching the game.
I bought a TE stick when I bought SSF4 because I figured if I’m going to learn this I might as well get serious. I initially wanted the SE, which is way cheaper, but reading about how you’ll end up replacing the buttons and stick eventually changed my mind. The games I usually play are RTS and FPS (fooled with MMO’s but I’m done with that), from my observance fighting games fall in the middle of RTS and FPS in required attributes. In RTS you need to think ahead to come out on top, FPS you need to have quick reaction. I have what I need to get good but I just need to get used to the media that I need to get good in.
I questioned if it was too late for me aswell. But I came to the conclusion its not. Why? because as an adult you can focus and apply yourself to actually getting good; no distractions. We come from a gaming background its not like we are like our parents trying to get good in gaming. Like someone else said SRK and the various other forums/sites weren’t available to players back then. You can learn what the pros do without actually having to meet said pros. It’s also your demeanor, when I get absolutely crushed by some players online I don’t get mad nor do I feel any emotion; I learn from wins and losses. There is also a point of diminishing returns for the top players; which is good news for us. While we improve by leaps and bounds they only make very slight improvements the more they play.
My all time favorite games are RTS, and yet even with SC2 coming out I don’t have much urge to play it over SSF4. Beta has been reopened for a week now and yet I still haven’t played because I’m focused on getting good at SSF4. I’m liking the instant satisfaction and experience from fighting games over RTS. In most RTS games each game is a tedious process of micro and macro where it takes 15-45 minutes to decide whether or not you win or lose. The instant results in fighting games is a nice change of pace. Besides you will never see a crowd as hyped at EVO’s observing a RTS game. The type of players are completely different, fighting nerds and rts nerds are night and day. The fighting scene is much more fun.
BTW if anyone on PSN wants to endless battle for training purposes come at me: WARP1GEON . I’m very much a beginner (got the game within a month ago) so keep that in mind.