Playing to Win by David Sirlin

If you have not read this as of yet it is probably a good idea. It really does lay out verbatum the difference between scrubs and good players. Really it is a must read for anyone who wants to be good at any FG or anyone who thinks they are but doesnt think he/she gets the recognition they deserve.

Yes this is an excellent article…I refer to it…Sirlin is a genius…talking about yomi layers etc…
Very good article indeed and glad someone put it up for everyone to understand this mindset since it is indeed something that is mentioned alot…playing for fun vs. playing to win…

GJ jae hoon. :tup:

After you have finished with the articles (which there are several), then you can move onto his book. Some of what is in his book is a reprint of the articles, but they have been expanded and revised.

The book is not for everyone, as most people will never play at the level that the professionals do. It is definatly a good read. My copy was delivered while I was layed up after a bad accident. I finished it in one day, and then spent the next several days picking apart (in a good way) the information contained within.

Good read, I’ve also kind of restricted myself a little bit when I think about it how I play some games. Oh well probably still a scrub in a way.

Man, I remember before I read this I used to believe in the BIGGEST nonsense, now I can’t see myself going back if I tried. >_>

A scrub who reads that article is just going to be a scrub exploiting cheap moves rather than abusing difficult moves. Makes no difference for the most part.


I remember reading those articles a long long time ago, like one or two years ago, hell I dont remember. Even now I still dont follow them…

Good article. Reminds me of S-kill’s Domination 101 columns back in the day.

I remember being called cheap by my friends, and I’d explain to them why it was stupid and how they should be playing to win. After that, they’d constantly call cheap just to fuck with me.

I never was in that sort of ‘scrub’ mentality (this specific one, anyway), but my cousin had a definite thing against the ‘down’ attacks in VF4… he said they were cheap and would never even touch them. His logic is that it was a guarenteed hit that the opponent can’t avoid… but how is that different then any other juggle or combo? But thankfully he’s over that phase, though as a result of that we both rarely use down moves when we play (though I think it may have to do with our styles in general.)

Still, sometimes taking stuff out does make a game more interesting. When I played Samurai Spirits V with a friend a while ago, we agreed not to use the slow motion effect you’re given… which made our matches much more exciting (and no less skilled.) So theres a line, as there is with bugs and stuff.

And Bushido Blade, thats a game where I’ve made my own rules as well. No hitting people while they’re down; etc. Once again, it livens things up.

But I do know where Sirlin is coming from with his piece. If you check the rest of his site, theres more amazing articles he’s written.

Someone didn’t get the point of the article. XD No but seriously, I dunno how much I agree with this. For example, in 3S, I often (often) use Karakusa -> FP -> FP Hayate. Then I do another karakusa, and repeat. This is surprisingly effective. No one has called me a scrub for doing it, although I have heard people call the karakusa cheap, and even I feel pretty cheap when doing it, so much that after the third time, I usually just stop. (By then, they’re stunned anyway :rofl:) The guy in the article even talks about how if you’re repeating the same thing over and over, the opponent should be smart enough to get out of it.

So am I a scrub, not for doing that combo over and over, but for NOT doing that combo over and over and over? If I don’t keep repeating that combo until they die, am I “not playing to win”?

Most people know you can just jump away, but they don’t for some reason. I did play a couple people who would just shoryu me, which is good, because…that’s what you’re supposed to do.

exploit it until they stop falling for it. don’t be concerned with “cheapness” persay, play your best. once they’ve adapted to your best, you will be forced to find different ways to deal with what they did making you a better player along the way.


I read this a long while ago. I keep reading it I come across a scrub and try and explain these ideas to them.

Ok. I think I actually remember reading you posting the same thing as me, and then saying that you just exploit it till they learn to get outta it. xD

I never liked that link. Sirlin’s Playing to Win has been used for justification of such abusive behavior, both in and out of games. While it may be the mantra of a winner, it also ammunition for use by people who are just plain jerks.

Over the years, back when arcades had casual crowds, I’d seen people driven away from games due to the “play to win” attitude. The ones doing the driving of course didn’t care, as anyone who’d be driven away wasn’t worth their time, and fighting games were never going to die.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen “Playing to Win” linked or quoted on message boards in arguments, almost always to support the side of abrasive or abusive behavior.

Mommy gave you a quarter to play? Get ready to cry on your Barney doll then, because I’m playing to win and you aren’t even worth my time as a training dummy. Trying to teach someone to play a game by explaining things? Get out of the arcade, I’m playing to win and you aren’t. And taking your scrubby friend with you, because he’ll never be any good. You just want to have fun? Playing to win is the only fun that you can have with a fighter. If you aren’t playing to win, don’t bother playing at all.

Yes, the sentiments work for tournament play and serious tournament players, but it is also the kind of attitude that may have helped drive the casual base for such fighters away. And the sentiment certainly caused its share of flame wars and topic derailments on other message boards…

Those types of people are just jerks anyways. Sirlin in no way insults casual players, or perhaps you can interpret it differently.

Funniest thing I’ve seen is people arguing for over a page on the exact definition of “Scrub”

I don’t buy that. If you went to the arcade, got your ass handed to you then stopped going, that makes you a quitter. I’d like to think most people aren’t quitters. I can think of many times in my life whether it was video games, soccer, basketball or school where there was serious competition; in other words, people were playing to win. Competition has inspired me to better myself and test my limits. I can’t stand sucking at something and I certainly do not like getting beat.

If anything, it is fierce competition that has helped certain gaming scenes last so long.

I think you’ve misinterpreted the article completely, Baines, and I am not trying to be dick saying that. The point of the article is not to always play to win and destroy opponents, including children, scrubs, novices, etc. This article is not talking to people who already know HOW to win, it’s talking to the players who DON’T.

In other words, this article speaks to the losers who make excuses. Being a player who beats down viciously on scrubs and flaunts it means you are WINNING, and this article isn’t for them. Those people need to read a whole different article on how to not be assholes.

No, again, this article is for those who lose and MAKE EXCUSES. This is directed at the people who want to win but, when they lose, they make up reasons why they lost, none of which are “He outplayed me.” It’s always, “Well I don’t use cheap tactics.” “I like to have fun.” “I could have beaten him if I wanted to.” Etc. Etc.

I hope that helps see the article in a different light, because it is a good article and there is a lot of truth in it. It’s not a cry for people to beat down people relentlessly, it’s a cry for those who lose to take it like a man and improve, realizing there IS a reason why you lost.

The article has no audience then. The people who make those excuses aren’t suddenly going to change their minds over reading it, and I don’t know why they’d seek it out in the first place. You mentioned the people winning aren’t the audience. So who is the audience then? My theory is it’s mostly weak players on SRK that NEED to find and play scrubs, because they can’t beat anyone decent. Instead of seeking out stronger players, these people are content finding weak players that have no intention of playing for anything except for fun, beating them down and making the game as boring as possible for them, then either linking them to the article and waiting for a reaction, or skipping that step altogether and just posting on SRK to feel good about themselves. Frankly, I think these types of people are the true scrubs. It’s like being 20 years old and playing at the children’s basketball courts instead of making the move to the real basketball courts.

One of the major points to being an effective writer is to know your audience, and write in a way that they’ll listen to you. Sirlin absolutely collosally fails here if the audience is who you say it is. No scrub reading that wouldn’t be insulted, and people when they’re insulted generally will not listen to whatever message you’re trying to convey. I just can’t believe that the intended audience is scrubs. In fact, I’m virtually certain it isn’t, because he refers to scrubs in the third person pronoun (probably wrong description of that, I’m sure it’s called something else, but I’m not an english major) by referring to “them” instead of “you.” The article is describing other people and not assuming it is you.

I’m not trying to be a dick either here, James you’ve been someone I’ve respected for a long time in the community. I remember getting a lot of the XvSf faq especially, it’s one of the things that drew me into fighting games. But I think YOU are the one who is misinterpreting, at the least, who the audience is here. Also, I thought you were from Flushing? Did you move to LA recently or am I mistaking that?

Really everyone exhibits scrub tendenencies at times, even great players. If your going to write a book about it, you can’t really say “hey you scrub, here’s what you do and how to change it”, but by offloading the scrub mentality into an third party (they), it allows people to read it and possibily identify tendencies in themselves without having to think the whole book is slamming on them.

The audience IMO is whoever is open to it… we can generalize here about what people will and won’t do, but ultimately it’s up to them to take the information and do something with it.

Baines: While I can see where your post is coming from, things often get twisted to support whatever someone feels like doing. Thats why i hesitate to talk about a “playing to win” mindset, it often distinegrates into a religious-like banter about scrubs and winning and things that are now blown way way out of context, and almost no real points get made anymore. Was there a specific reason to even start this thread jae? your first post doesn’t go into it too much.

With that said, there are still a lot of specific points and ideas that can be taken from the “playing to win” umbrella and put under your own, and i think that was the real goal originally.