The fighting game community is largely comprised of a younger audience, and as such the actions and decisions of its members are not always necessarily for the best. Our players have made mistakes time and time again. Some of those mistakes were made by misguided individuals; others resulted from a breakdown in communication among a group of people. Since 2009, the spotlight that’s been cast on fighting games has brought numerous incidents (this being the most prominent one) to light that most likely would’ve gone unnoticed and unspoken of in the old days. Those days are gone now, and the community is at a crossroads where its longevity and relevance will be decided by the actions of its members.
On a superficial level, it’s very simple to point fingers and accuse specific individuals of being problematic. But these individuals are not the real issue. Rather, they are the symptoms of a much larger problem that plagues the community as a whole, which is that many players lack the ability to self-reflect.
Jiyuna made a tweet on this topic earlier this morning, and it resonated very strongly with me. Like many others in the community, fighting games have changed me as a person. Even though I don’t actively play as often these days, I spent a disproportionate amount of time on them for a good part of my life. The tenacity and drive to improve your skill in a game ended up translating to a similar desire in other aspects of my life, allowing me to learn how to grow as a person in ways that were not taught in classes in college. Perhaps the most important skill was the one Jiyuna mentioned: acceptance of self.
There are countless players in the scene compared to how it used to be, and every single one possesses varying degrees of the myriad skillsets required to be proficient. Execution. Reaction. Adaptation. Mental strength. All of these and more are needed to become a truly good player… but no matter how strong one becomes, losing is an inevitability. When a player loses, what happens next is what separates the wheat from the chaff.
Weaker players will begin to make excuses. “My character is too weak”, “I wasn’t warmed up”, “my stick is broken”, “I’m hungover” and “my chair isn’t angled right” are just some of the ones I’ve heard. There’s a degree of validity to these, of course, but too often players will get caught in believing that these factors hold more weight than they really do. Taking ownership is sorely lacking and a point that all of us can improve on. Accepting a loss is the first step; analyzing it is the second, and rectifying it is the third.
Once these concepts have been internalized, they can be applied to all other aspects of life. I’m sure we all know someone who comes up short in their goals and makes excuses. If you’ve played fighting games long enough so that self-reflection has become second nature in figuring out how to beat your local top player or a bad matchup, spend some time to see if you can apply the same logic to the rest of your life. Analyze what areas you’re weak in, whether it’s physical health, social life, your education or your career. Plan out your solutions and implement them accordingly. Don’t accept excuses and don’t settle for reassurances of mediocrity from others.
Only when the individuals in the fighting game community improve themselves for the better will the scene be able to move forward and grow. Will this happen? Who knows. But all we can do is try our hardest and play smart.
After all, that’s what these games have taught you to do, right?