UCLA Sociology Research on the Fighting Game Community

Hello everyone,

I already posted this on the regional UCLA thread a while back, but thought I’d post it here as well, in case anyone is interested.

For the past year and a half, NegroMAT and myself have been doing research on the fighting game community for the Sociology department at UCLA. Our research turned into our undergraduate honors thesis, which you can download below.This paper ended up winning the departmental award for best undergraduate thesis, and we’re really proud of it!

It’s all about how competitive fighting games help build social capital, and contains excerpts from in-depth interviews we did with some well known community members that you’ve probably heard of (people like James Chen, UltraDavid, Keits, Haunts, Tatsu, Seth Killian, just to do some name dropping) and a lot of other community members who aren’t so famous.

This was written as an academic paper, and has a lot of sociological lingo in there, and it’s really long (50 pages) so I’m sure there are parts that people will find very boring, unless you’re really into sociology hahahah. But in any case, feel free to check it out! This research is what brought me into the community, and since then I’ve been able to see first hand how amazing this whole thing is. I plan on pursuing sociology in graduate school, and with any luck one day I can be an advocate for competitive fighting games in academia.


I thought it was worth reading. It was kinda funny seeing someone try to academically define some of the FG community lingo lol.

I think this part stood out to me the most out of everything I read. Today, with all the convenience that personal computers and electronic media have in general we have less incentive to really get out and socially interact with others. Which is why I thought it was an interesting observation that FG’s brings people together into RL communities rather than isolate like most forms of electronic entertainment do. I had never thought about that. When you think of the future you picture people never leaving their houses because they have all their necessities and wants available to them because of improvements in technologies. FG’s kinda show that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to describe this site in a college paper.

I’m going to college in less than two months from now, and I envy you :smiley:

wheres the tl;dr version

I’d like to hear your opinion on how the tournament spectator experience applies to the Japanese fighting game community. Most Japanese streams use Ustream instead of JustinTV (which does not require you to make a name before you are able to chat). Do you think anonymous Japanese stream monsters still contribute to the community? Just reading all the "ehhh"s when Daigo or Tokido shows up on stream represents how much more they idolize top players than the US or Europe can.

EDIT: I read the whole thing and I did not find one part boring btw. Reading the whole thing was like enjoying a delicious meal. :slight_smile:

lol yeah the slang part was fun to write, i could not resist the opportunity to put “shut the fuck up scrub” in a college paper hhahah

and yeah, thanks man, at the end of the day i think that the way people get connected through fighting games in real life is what makes it so great, and unique as a form of entertainment. it just gets me thinking all day about how we can make this happen even more with other games, or even stuff like music or TV.

oh wow thank you man, i really appreciate that! in regards to the japanese, i really can’t say anything because i haven’t seen most of their streams, haven’t been there, and i don’t know any japanese so yeah lol

in general though, my view is that spectators who don’t go to events aren’t actually community members in the sense that if they don’t go to tournaments, they simply haven’t actually met or made friends with other players, so they haven’t experienced what its like, and they’re not personally invested with other people in the scene. it’s one to thing observe, it’s another completely to participate

nowadays stream monsters bring in revenue to tournaments though, so in that sense they are definitely “contributing”, and no doubt bigger prizes makes tournaments bigger and more exciting, so that’s a good thing as far as i can tell.

BUT, i think the really important distinction to make though, is that the community is only really thriving because of the individuals who put in hours and hours of hard work and personal sacrifice. stream viewers don’t do that. they don’t bring setups to events, they don’t lose their voices running brackets, they don’t help to clean up the venue after the event, and most of them simply don’t realize the horrendous amount of work that it takes to organize these awesome events. as a result, they’re also not there to share in the celebration when all that hard work materializes into some of the most fun weekends of your life, and you realize that this was only possible because of the collective effort that everyone put forth. stream monsters are simply not a part of any that in any way.

now, regarding the idolizing top players thing, i think that is a big indicator for how involved someone actually is in the community. for example, even though i greatly respect alex valle, and he’s a legendary player and totally gdlk, i would never ask him for his autograph. that’s because i go to quite a few events, and see him frequently. it would be really weird if i asked him for his autograph, and then see him every other week at WNF. when you’re actually an active member of the community, you inevitably get to know these people on a human, face to face level. that takes away their celebrity status. of course they’re greatly respected, but you’re not gonna get starstruck by someone you see regularly, because you end up hanging out with these people, doing regular stuff like drinking beers and getting In-N-Out. anyone who freaks out because they meet a top player, it’s very apparent that they’re not used to it.

not sure if this is what you’re looking for lol cuz yeah i really don’t know much about the japanese scene, so i can’t really say

Oh no it’s not supposed to be super deep or anything. From the way I observe comments on nico douga vids or Japanese stream chat, They rely on conveying emotion through reactions in unison.

The last Japanese stream I watched was that Topanga tourney a while back. It may be closely related to their take on internet culture, but I think they show a lot of similarities in idolizing top players as American or European stream monsters do, but intensified. Because you said it is hard to get Valle’s autograph since you see him a lot of the time, I imagine that it would be different for Japanese players to do the same since they humble themselves more.

Notice the pattern in comments from the stream chat here:


lol yeah man, as a society the japanese are just hella crazy to begin with

Good stuff man, really enjoyed reading that and your example of use for scrub was great:rofl:

Justin.tv can also have non-registered stream viewers chat. It’s all up to the broadcasters’ settings.

On another note, sometimes I envy how social sciences and art fields have a more ‘liberal’ way of making their thesis (coming from the sciences). It’s a great read for the most part.

My counter argument would be that it creates a dominance problem in the specific societal construct.

Also: Higher than average sodium intake being problematic for hydration.

yeah man hahaha sociology really lets you write about anything, as long as you can do it in a relevant way. that’s why i’m trying to make a career out of it

Its not uncommon for Japanese players to have fanboys. Nuki said in a podcast that Daigo has lots and Sako had probably more of them than anyone during his Vampire Savior days and they were mostly otakus.

Listen at Mago’s fanboys squeal like Justin Bieber fans at the 20:00 mark.

This was a good read.

dunno if anyone else is interested, but just in case, bump