This is a good point that I’d like to address. I mentioned it at the top of the post. This is called game fragmentation. I made the assumption at the start of the post that everyone could agree that Fragmentation is a bad thing. I think I may have been wrong to assume that. I’d like to address Fragmentation for a little bit, and explain why it’s bad. First of all, it’s not unique to street fighter. It happens in many games, from role playing, to board games, to video games.
Fragmentation is what happens when you have distinct groups playing small variants of a game. Some people might think “So what? If each group plays its own variant, then everyone can have what they want!”. This sounds like a good idea, but it’s actually bad for the game as a whole.
You see, competition breeds desire for a game. Anyone can “run their own weekly tournaments” at whatever speed they want. But the problem comes when a big tournament comes, and then people don’t want to play because that’s not the variant that they are used to. A great example of this in another competitive game is Scrabble. Yes, believe it or not, Scrabble is played, and played for money. In fact competitive Scrabble is much much more popular than competitive fighting games. People spend their entire lives memorizing the dictionary to play good scrabble. People care about the game, and they care a lot. The problem in scrabble is that there are two dictionary sets. The US (American english) Dictionary set and the World (British english) dictionary set. This causes game fragmentation. US players aren’t on the same playing field as the rest of the world, and this makes world championships difficult. The true hardcore players that play for the love of the game have to play at top tier in both dictionary sets, which is tremendously difficult. And this confusion causes a lot of new players to decide not to bother. Why pick a competitive game that’s so fragmented? This is a big problem for the scrabble community. The community loses potential new players because of fragmentation, and other established players become frustrated and quit too.
A lot of US scrabble players take the position that nohoho has articulated. “Who cares?”, they say. “The world players are coming to the US to play, they can just learn our speeds. Why should we be the ones to change?”. Other scrabble players take the position that ShinjiGohan has taken. “Not many world players come to US tournaments, so it’s not worth it to change our dictionary”.
The problem with both of these positions is that they fail to recognize that fragmentation is part of the reason that more players don’t come to more US tournaments. Look at it from the point of view of the nigerian scrabble player. He’s had a hell of a time memorizing the british dictionary, he can go to plenty of international tournaments in british… why should he go to the US where the rules have changed? This is a second example of how the game is hurt by fragmentation. This point is echoed by what GritsNGravy said in his post. He tried switching speeds and it made a big difference.
In the end, the game itself is hurt by fragmentation. This is a fairly well understood phenomenon in the game industry. Wizards of the Coast, the owners of D&D, realized that fragmentation in the role playing game market was causing the entire industry to slump. They decided to make a huge gamble by releasing their core engine as open source, to reduce fragmentation. This has been a huge success, and thanks to the open D20 system released by WotC, sales across the industry have gone up.
Now that I’ve explained why fragmentation is a bad thing, I’d like to talk about the speed issue itself.
Now some of you might be thinking that speed is a minor issue. You might think, as dXp does, that who really cares? Play on whatever speed, it’s not that big a deal. I have two refutations to that point.
My first refutation is that a this is a big difference. Street fighter is a game where muscle memory plays a big deal. The difference of a few frames can win or the the match. So it matters when your speed is off. As I said above, GritsNGravy has echoed this sentiment. I have found a huge difference when playing at different speeds. The speed change from FACTORY FAST to FACTORY FASTEST is big enough, but the jump on CCC2’s FREE SELECT 3 (which is FASTER than any arcade setting anywhere, it’s more equivalent to “crackhead speed” ), is huge! I’ve talked to many players in the seattle ST community, and the difference is noticeable.
The other thing I’d like to say in response to the “who cares?” argument is that people spend a lot of time on this game, and people really do care. I’ll take myself as an example here. I’m a working professional, with a loving girlfriend, a house, a job, family, and all of that. I choose to spend the free time I have on street fighter. I care a lot about this game. I care enough that I run weekly tournaments on an arcade machine I purchased for this very purpose. I cared a lot about this game years ago as well. With another player named Apoc, we organized a gathering in Vegas that was the first internet gathering of Street fighter players. That was so much fun that I then proposed a gathering at Nickel City, an idea that Justin Ratcliffe and the Cannon Brothers did a spectacular job running and implementing, and turned into b3, the first of the “evo” series.
I moved to Japan for five years, and I became friends with my ST players over there. I found a lot of people, that like myself, played ST and no other game. I remember asking one of my best friends, a player named Yoshimi, why he only played ST. “ST is the only interesting game”, he said. I agreed with him. We played daily. Yoshimi ended up going from a crappy ken player I whopped daily to second place finisher at the first SBO.
Anyways, this is turning into a diatribe. I’m not trying to turn this into a rant, or a long winded history of my love for this game. The point I’m trying to get across is that PEOPLE CARE. People love this game, and love it a lot. People spend a LOT of time on this game. And, the community of people that really love this game want it to grow, and want it to be competitive, and want new players to learn it. I want that, and I think a lot of other people want that too. I don’t want the US to be its own island of street fighter. I think that would be a sad thing. And given the amount of time I’ve spent on this game in my lifetime, I would be happy to relearn the speeds, and my timing, in order to suit a world standard. And I think a lot of players, all over the world, feel the same thing.
Thanks to everyone who has posted, both with agreeing and dissenting opinions. I think it’s important that we discuss these issues.