Why do we play fighting games?

This is a question I ask myself a lot, and I phrase it this way. I think it’s important to note the phrasing. I don’t say “Why do people play fighting games” or “Why do I play fighting games”. It’s the competitive gameplayers as a collective unit that I am trying to figure out. What is it that keeps us playing these games, despitethe lack of recognition(and sometimes rebuke) carried with it?

The hard thing about answering these kinds of questions is that I have to do it in a way which is universal, and yet, I only have my own experiences (and observations of others) to draw from. And I’m not the best arbitrer either; as a player who doesn’t win tournaments and doesn’t exhibit much in the way of outside social forces. However, I am still part of the whole, so my own experiences can be useful in answering this question.

I play fighting games because it appeals to my ideals and dreams: to be able to fight without risking your body to harm. The fighter characters don’t die, even when they lose. They may appear to (ie. Mortal Kombat) but they’re back to fight again should the user choose to use that character. This also carries down to the players themselves. If I lose to a player that is better than me, I don’t forefeit my life and I have the opportunity to play (and learn from) him again.

It’s also a place where ability matters, and not connections. In a world where a complete idiot can become President of the United States just because his last name is Bush, Street Fighter offers a place where people are judged strictly on their own ability to handle the game and other opponents.

SF’s lack of outside appeal is also, ironically, an attraction for me, as is with I’m sure many other players. Alex Valle, Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara are stellar names within the community, but outside they’re just another guy on the street. I think this is an attraction because in this day and age, people are fully aware of just the kind of stress that worldwide (or even just national) fame implies. People relish the idea that they can be famous only with people that understand what they are doing, and not among strangers.

There’s an air of mystery around champions. People aren’t really sure what they do and when they vanish from the scene, there’s uncertainty as to their fate. Sometimes their names are forgotten and only the old guard remembers them. This kind of mystique is highly attractive to a secretive person such as myself.

What drives people to get together every year for tournaments like Evo? I think it’s vindication. We want to know that we’re not alone in what we’re doing. It’s hard to be your own coach, and the size of the tournament makes us feel comfortable in our sbuculture.

I guess it also does appeal to those who consider themselves to be tactical fighting experts but don’t have the body (or the courage) to actually fight. These would-be generals need a sense of direction and a belief that they alone can improve themselves. Such an attitude, however, misses the forest for the trees.

They don’t think about the time they cherish so much when losing meant death (and, depending on what you believed in, ceasing to exist). With all the fuss and bother about people dying in the streets for no reason at all, the SF battlefield is a relatively graceful arena to participate in. It’s extremely rare that a grudge gets beyond heated words, and many a grudge is solely to veil good competitors’ hidden respect for each other (for fear that their friends might consider them “soft” for acknowledging the other).

In short - it’s war and peace at the same time. That’s its appeal.

I play them because it’s an unacknowledged sport. It’s the one sport that’s both challenging and fun, and doesn’t require you to tire yourself out over. They not only encourage you to train yourself to keep up with better players, but they also incorporate thinking with your hand movements during play, and a lot of strategical, technical, and controversial discussion outside of play. And it’s great to meet people with a shared interest in fighting games. You make new challenges to learn from, get exposed to cool shit that you’ve never seen before with an underused character or tactic, become entertained by close matches, and above all, you make new friends that stir your motivation.

I’m most fascinated with character analyzation too, such as overviewing a character’s strengths, weaknesses, how they make up the character’s gameplay, and how said gameplay compares to that of other characters. Like everything else with plentiful characters or objects that have a uniqueness which add greatly to the variety of the whole, discussing options to be weighed out is good excercise in making sound arguments and opinions.

Aesthetics are just as important to me as gameplay. Without them, these games would bore me to death, no matter how competitive they are. And yeah, some characters look very interesting, or to the creative artist, inspirational, which is often the inviting aspect of playing a new character. So when I’m looking into a new fighting game, I naturally look for characters I’d want to play to decide if it’ll be worth my time.

For the gameplay mostly. Some games have that truly chess/strategic feel where each assist/SA/Groove/etc. should be taken with some thought as it can make or break. The challenge is crucial as well as the fun. Whether I’m besting survival mode or the AI on my own or trying to best my mates or a stranger at the arcade, I don’t want the experience to be as easy as balls nor ‘OH GOD FUCK YOU skjdhsakjfhskjgh’ frustrating.

As mentioned earlier fighting games are, in one way, living a dream of being able to enter a conflict without being actually hurt. It’s one way of proving ones ability, pitting it against others who have a common interest. It’s also an outlet for my anger sometimes and anti-stress(no, not by breaking controllers or the like). When I have a shitty day, I usually pop [fighting game X] into [console Y] and after a few playthroughs I am jolly, perverted old me again. On a side note ,the entertainment and learning aspect is great. Lord knows how many hours I spent hitting the FAQs and DLing vids and trying to pull off moves, at least in training mode, and luckily, against competition. LOL.

Character design and story would be a somewhat distant second. I usually go for characters whose personalities and other effects appeal to me, if I cannot warm up to the solid, beastly-gameplay-wise ones. Sometimes I am lucky enough to become a fan of characters that combine both (see avatar =p).

I also quite enjoy the extras such as OSTs/ASTs, galleries, and art. For console versions these are a must, because fighting games would be quite boring without em.

Dismiss this scrubby or fanboyish if you want, but that is how I feel. Fighting games are challenging, fun and entertaining to me. It has a part of my daily life. And I have barely scratched the surface of things, so I’ll probably be playing fighters for a long time to come.

i think its cause those damn trailers, they keep putting that superhero shit up and people be like “damnnn, i can do that, GIVE ME SAME SITUATION!!1”

Been playing 2D fighters since StreetFighter II. Can’t stop.

Actually Samurai Showdown II reeled me in.

We play for nostalgia. To a simpler time, when arcades still existed. When move lists were printed from Prodigy. When a jump in :hp: :dp: :hp: meant certain victory and Chun-Li wasn’t such a whore.

We play for competition on an equal playing field. On a field without hate or blood, without lag or bots.

We play for honor. There are no sponsors, no extreme games, no boobage, no big money.

We play for perfection. We do not seek defeat in our opponent, but to be better than ourselves. Victory is not a goal, it is a result.

We play for respect. To prove our skills to our peers. To show the world what we have learned and impart that knowledge.

We play for brotherhood. Those we face are not enemies, they are kindred spirits. We may not have met, but we all know each other.

We play for gameplay. On a field where poly-counts and bump mapping don’t matter, where we demand that the learning curve be high. Where gameplay amounts to what you can do and what you will do, as opposed to what you can see and what you will see.

We play for fun. When we play, we awaken a spirit inside us. One that can only be sated in this fashion, in this medium. It brings us joy and sends our hearts into a happy beat.

We play because it is what we do.


That’s it right there folks. I think that to a very large extent, we all have a bit of Ryu in us, which is probably why he is such a popular character. It is true, to us, improving ourselves is the most important part of the game. Some would think that winning is everything to the fighting gamer. After all, we are always encouraged to “play to win” and "play with everything you have no matter what, but it isn’t victory we’re seeking. It’s that great match. It’s that match that makes you sit back and say “Did I just do THAT?” How many hardcore fighting gamers have you seen give up after they are completely outclassed in a match? You don’t. When a fighter is absolutely outmatched, he doubles his training. He plays harder than ever. We want to be the best player we can possibly be, not better than everyone else. “The fight is all”. :karate:

I’ll answer this in the simplest and most ideal way.

I play fighters because they’re fun.

And if you want to argue that any other game non fighter, can be fun too, I’ll simply tell you…

At the given time of playing, I felt like playing the fighter.

I believe fighting games have a quick fix in the form of entertainment. One game lasts an average of 3 mins, so there is no real sense of dedication or attention needed. Also, the fact that the games have tactics make it more interesting to see how much of a strategy can be stuffed within that small amount of time.

Also, the competition is very broad since anyone can pick up a fighting game. It is not as difficult as chess, where strategies are beyond any fighting game, but it is also not as easy as a simple game of tic-tac toe. Moreover, since is uses martial arts as the medium to create certain tactics, it is fun to see what you create in a fighting world.

Also, fighting games are head to head, not a group effort. There is no blame to be put on but yourself nor is there no sharing of victory. It’s just you against someone else. This concept is great because you can measure yourself where you are in terms of ranks by how many people you have beaten and where your are in terms of the elite. All this is not a long process: one game, one win, next person, please.

Wow, that was such a great post, because it’s nothing but the truth. :karate:


i play b/c i like the mixture of strategy & twitch gameplay. it’s like they combined the concepts of shmups & strategy rpgs (my 2nd & 3rd fave genres). having to think & keep moving with so much to consider at every time is far more exciting to me than say… driving a car… or shooting some people from behind a corner… or jumping from platform to platform…

I find this topic very insteresting becuase this is somewhat related to my topic earlier on “what makes a fighting game enthusiast”. And if anything this describes it to a tee. But what I find interesting is that when my topic addresses the position of the genre in regards to other genres of games, this topic instead talks about how we ourselves are related in the gaming world.

What always irks me is that all those qualities that Jedi. W and Dasrik described, really do encompass a lot of different type of activities, whether be sports, traditional board games or even other genres of games…and yet it still games like 2D fighters still get fucked over. Whereas a somewhat ass of a game like MK5:game that sold 4 million copies for god knows what reason…it just irks me even more.

And more and more it just seems that the whole SF fighting scene in general for the States are just a steady decline not because of the disappearing arcades, but two important factors:

  1. This last generation’s people who knew about SF2 in it’s glory days are going to leave pretty soon, leaving an even smaller group to play with.

  2. The size of the states does not make for easy gaming centers to grow. I mean SoCal and CTF are big, in a populated area, but then again the rest of the states are like hours away from any decent arcade at all. Unlike Japan where you walk 10 blocks and you are in an entirely different competitive district.

So yeah, I guess Dasrik is right in how we want vindication. That for once a year (or perhaps multiple times if we frequent many tournies) we feel like we are amongst people who give a shit about what we care about and what we want is here for all of us to enjoy.


Tournaments make good alibis.

This is my take on it.

We all play fighting games because it is what we like to do. It incorperates many aspects of life into the world of fighting games. Befrending others who are just as good if not better than you, or teaching someone else how to play. There is a community for us to feel welcomed in and will have people to be there for us when we need them to be.
They can be used to take out anger, just have fun, or for reasons of your own such as: Amount of thought necessary, better your mind reflexes, learn from mistakes in games so you dont make them in real life.
Fighting games help me with my training in ninjutsu, because i can incorperate ways of thinking from ninjutsu into the way i ply fighting games. As you all know the ninja were mysterious in their ways, and very unpredictable. As i train in ninjutsu i am always told never to limit my self to only 1 style, but to embrace and learn others as well. Not only do we make friends and get a place to be and feel accepted, but it is a place for inner peace for some people.
Recently i descided to get into fighting games big. I played diablo 2 24/7 from the begning till about 2 months ago. I quit because there was no stratagy and it all became copycats and people who cheat to get better. In fighting games, you cant cheat to get better, you can be cheezy, but there is always a way to counter that.
We embrace this as our way of life till we find it not useful to us anymore, untill we descide to move on, just as i did with diablo. The way people react in fighting games is much different then on mmorpgs or things of that nature.
Some gamers look down on us, think we have no skill, when it is the exact opsite.

We play to show them wrong, and we play to develop our mind and personality to what we want it to be. Nothing more then that.

it feels good beating someone up 1v1

Fighting games is the shitz, and anyone would know that it is extremely competetive, and it’s great to be able to defeat the person, but also learn from your losses, not only that, but I just think it’s insane how much a simple 1vs1 can draw so much hype and attention.

Ps: I know this shouldn’t be put on here, and I’m sorry, but I want the link to the place where there’s a guide that talks to noobs and scrubs about tier list, not using the word “cheap”, and how fighting games will never be balanced. I need to convert some people from not being scrubs and noobs anymores.

I dunno why other people play, but here’s why I play them:

  • There are no idiot teammates to steal your glory or get in your way. It’s one-on-one, mano-a-mano. The only players you need to worry about are yourself and your single opponent. You are free to focus intently on the game, rather than be detached from it due to the sheer volume of players making the experience seem mundane or unimportant. You’re always on the hotseat, and all eyes are on you.

  • The games start out as deceptively simple and get more and more complex as you get higher and higher in competition levels. It starts easily enough – you control your character with the joystick and six attack buttons. You use your character’s unique abilities to hit the opponent and empty their lifebar while defending yourself against their attacks.

But as you and your opponents increase in skill level, the game goes from being a straightforward slugfest (jumping in with HK and sweeping nonstop with Champion Edition Ryu at the age of 10) to a deeper, more psychological level. Mind games become more and more important – tricking the opponent’s thinking and reflexes by doing the unexpected, making the opponent think there is a risk where there isn’t one and vice versa, and carefully, subtly pushing the opponent into a position (literally and mentally) where they and their character(s) can’t function well but you and your character(s) can, and thereby defeating them.

People who don’t play fighting games at a decent level often don’t understand their appeal or depth for the same reason that people who don’t play chess at a decent level can’t appreciate it – you have to do it in order to believe it. On the outside, watching those old men in the park play chess is liable to bore you to tears – but the players in those chairs know that they have to fight tooth and nail with all their wit in order to get their opponent to go where they want them to go so that they can punish them and win the game – and therein lies the real fun.

  • In a world where single-player games, and even many multiplayer games, are very dark and serious and colorless, fighting games are full of flash and flair, encouraging one to embrace the wacky cartoonishness of the game’s spirit and really love the characters you play as. Even people who pick their characters primarily based on tournament-winning ability can’t help but smirk with satisfaction on the inside when Sagat folds his arms and laughs at his beaten opponent, or Chun-Li does her victory hop and V-sign, or Magneto takes off his helmet and holds up his hand, glowing with evil power. These games embrace their lack of realism and encourage even the most stonefaced players to lighten up and have fun.

i like to play and i like to beat people at stuff

thats true a lot of the coolest video game characters are from fighters.