This is dedicated to all of the people who are too smart for what they’re doing, but not smart enough to figure out why.
Why I Love Street Fighter
The Street Fighter community does not care where you come from. You don’t need an expensive assed graphics card, a modem connection, or even your own copy of the game.
When you play, people are watching. People that can see you. People that can touch you. People that will hurt you if you think that people can talk shit and not get called out. People that will embrace you as one of their own, even if you have nothing in common except your love for a game. A game few people truly understand. A game that will teach you to think outside of the box. A game that will show you things you didn’t know about yourself.
Street Fighter is completely equal and balanced. Anyone can pick any character and play their heart out to win. The community does not shun you for picking a top character. However, they will not tolerate people who pick characters for the wrong reasons. If you pick Chun Li because you think it will turn you into Ohnuki, people can tell. If you pick her because you understand why Ohnuki picks Chun, then the community will accept it. If you pick Twelve for the same reason, people may even love you for it. The community recognizes when people are true to themselves. Because we’re all the same.
All things, art, music, SF, everything where people push their hearts out into the world, all are the same. The stress that a painter puts into every brush stroke, every single line done with the grace of a ballet dancer, every movement agonized over and pondered, that is the care that every SF player puts into the fight. The long nights sitting at a piano and playing the same notes, making the movements so a part of yourself that when the moment comes, you don’t think, you act, that is the 10 hour practice session where the ROM became a tool, not a hindrance or worry. That is the feeling of strain in your wrist on the 1000th Chariot Tackle, when you no longer worry about HOW to get the tackles partitioned and ready, just WHEN. All of these things come from the same place in you. We, the community, are unfortunately screwed by our unfortunate skillset. Our potential is the most likely thing that will destroy us.
Street Fighter has no retirement plan. There is no sunset ride, no walk into the moonlight, no hat-tip and giddyup happily-ever-after. SF is kinder to the earlier generations than most games, even most other games in our genre, because we have a history that is rivaled by no one. When Alex Valle walks into an arcade, everyone KNOWS. Even if you have never met him before, you could still tell by watching him play. When someone by unfortunate ignorance happens to call out Mike Watson, he can still swoop out of nowhere and lay the classic smacketh down. The skills people used for original WW/ST still apply to new games. To all games. To LIFE. But, regrettably, there is no easy way out.
No one wants to be the first person to say “I’m too old for Street Fighter. I’ll see you guys”. Because it never, ever leaves you. When you truly feel SF in your heart, it is part of you. It’s the instrument that gets out what you want to say to the world. It is the paintbrush that tells people “THIS IS ME. THIS IS WHO I AM. RECOGNIZE MY SKILL.” Street Fighter makes people celebrities and superstars, reaching thousands of people that would otherwise have never known you exist. Because you have love for what you do. Because you are true to yourself, and true to the community. Players that cannot speak the language you write on forms, but are fluent in the one that you understand best. Players who you have never met and may never know, but will remember your name for the rest of their lives.
But it cannot pay our bills. What we put in, we put in out of pure love for the game. We come back time and time again, even though we don’t have time to play anymore, even though WORK and STRESS and BILLS and LIFE are beating us down, even though we can’t for the life of us figure out where the fuck to go from here, we always have a home. It’s Street Fighter, our soulmate. It’s always been there. And, for good or for worse, there is no escape.
Street Fighter can teach you to be a stronger person. To out-think an opponent, whether he is on the other side of the cabinet or the other side of your office. To search for deeper understanding of the rules people come to take for granted. To focus and try your damnedest in a clutch, preparing for every eventuality. To find the part of yourself that wants to give up when it looks rough, bear down, and crush it.
But Street Fighter can’t teach you how to deal with the regular world of regular people. How to resolve within yourself that your best personal talent, the thing which made you into who you are, this wondrous skill that rose you up above everyone else and proved that you are SOMEONE, means completely nothing to 99% of the world. Street Fighter will not get you laid. Street Fighter will remember you, but will not carry you. Street Fighter will ultimately eat you alive.
Because a flame that has no outlet eventually devours itself. You go from job to job, wrecking shit with ease because SF taught you how. But the same innovation that made you hunt for combos no one else would ever think of, that aren’t actually very useful for anything but looking really cool, that would take 20 seconds with a programmable controller but because of stupid pride you attempted for two days straight, getting closer every moment but not QUITE THERE, that is the self-destructive handicap that pushed you. The drive to pioneer new trails with unused characters and unheard-of strategies does not make you a happy person, it makes you insane. You will never be satisfied with the standard way of doing things. The same way you don’t pick Ken just out of principle, even though you KNOW you would win if you could stand using him, that nagging worm will make you quit your easy job out of boredom. You move from place to place, trying to figure out what your special talent is. What is the thing that I am great at? What is the one skill I can find solace, comfort, and security in?
I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer simply must be Street Fighter. Why can’t we ever leave? Why are we so fucking brilliant and so fucking tenacious, but we can’t get our own lives together? Because our one true skill, the art that gets that nagging out of our soul, has no current way of even resembling a career. We are the closest thing to Fight Club that exists anywhere. We are a group of people that all come together, from different backgrounds, different countries, complete different fucking WORLDS and all share the same understanding. We should be able to take over the world. We should be getting together and working toward common goals.
Most of us can’t even get the fuck out of our folks’ house.
With great power does indeed come great responsibility. I have quit in the middle of making a video more than a few times. The thing that has brought me back to finish every single time wasn’t the money. The recognition, though nice and appreciated, means diddily squat when you’re working 9 hours, making video 8 hours, and sleeping for 4. The sole thing that makes me keep going is the thing I love most about Street Fighter. The one thing that gives me hope, and keeps me going. It’s the fucking fans. People message me and say “Hey, is the Necro video ready yet? I’d like to pick him up”. They stop me at the arcade and say “Dude, that Basics video is awesome. Is volume 2 coming out soon? I really want to learn that stuff.” Comments on the CV board. “Man, I don’t even play 3s and now I can’t help it. Thanks!”
I feel guilty when I stop working for while, because we all came from there. We all needed someone to show us why throwing isn’t cheap. Why there’s nothing wrong with turtling. Someone that can teach you how to Play to Win. Not everyone has capture equipment handy. Not everyone can explain why they do things when they do them, they just do it. Many of us can teach. Many fewer are willing, let alone able to without considerable sacrifice.
I love Street Fighter because it gives me hope. I look at the community with all their raw talents and natural abilities and think “Fuck, there must be SOMEWHERE to go from here!” I believe that the critical thinking and abstract thinking skills that SF talent brings to the forefront, the sheer lust for competition that seeing a line of quarters on a sliver of glass still triggers within me, the unrelenting pull that keeps us coming back HAS to mean something. It digs into you and never lets go. The spirit of competition and brotherhood and shared understanding is something you may never find again.
I hate Street Fighter for the exact same reason.