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The Heart of Battle

This week is going to be a weird one, but thanks for sticking with me. It’s been a slow few weeks for the Fighting Game Community, but we have East Coast Throwdown this weekend and the Fall Classic coming up on the first weekend in October. In the meantime, I wanted to have some fun with an editorial piece this week seeing as next week will be event coverage. This week’s article is incredibly personal. As writers, we work so hard to have a voice when we cover things, but I think that I’ve still come off more as a set of opinions rather than a real person. To rectify this, I’d like to take a moment to speak about how I got started, why I love the community and why I love fighting games.

I started playing fighting games in my freshman year of college. I’d just started working at GameStop and Marvel vs Capcom 3 was the only game in my Xbox at the time. We’d always had this junker fight-stick in the back and I’d been eyeing it for awhile. Eventually poor judgement would get the best of me and I started to really learn Marvel vs Capcom. I’d eventually meet some of the Nashville scene through a mutual friend at a local anime convention. This would lead to me reaching out to the scene in Knoxville where I’d meet some of my good friends, Johnny and Donnie, as well as my mentor Jason.

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Courtesy of Deviant Art

As the summer went on, Persona 4 Arena would come out and I’d reconnect with the Nashville scene. Knoxville was a fantastic place to learn Marvel, but the anime fighter scene was lacking. There were a few Guilty Gear players who knew their stuff, but Nashville was a haven for anime fighters. Eventually I’d go play in my first tournament at Game Galaxy arcade. The King of Bling was a local tournament covering everything from Persona to Street Fighter. I remember coming close to winning my first match as a player, but I’d lose on stream. I wouldn’t compete again until last year, but I loved the thrill of competition and I felt at home with my friends. I felt like I belonged to something and I was ecstatic.

After that, things would get a bit rough and I fell away from my community. I still talked with the Nashville crew and play netplay, but things had changed. I was working more and school was my main priority. I couldn’t make it to weeklies and I was mostly playing online. This led me to meeting Jason and Johnny who both rekindled my love of Street Fighter. I spent those 3 years playing Street Fighter and actually learning to play fighting games. It wasn’t until I started to learn my fundamentals with Street Fighter IV that I would grow as a player. There was a long time where I just wrote my losses off as a lack of experience, but this wasn’t really the case. I was predicable and I didn’t understand the mind game aspect of it either. I like to joke that getting old and patient helped me mature as a player, but I’m just as passionate and hotheaded as I used to be.

I don’t regret any of the time I spent playing fighting games, but I’d be lying if I said that I should have done things smarter. This year was far from my finest hour, but I’ve come a long way and that’s what I love about fighting games. I’ve always felt that regardless of my short comings that I’d always have a place in this community and the friends I’ve kept along the way are important figures in my life. The Fighting Game Community is a family of competitors. It encourages growth and it creates long lasting friendships, rivalries and experiences. The thrill of winning is intoxicating, but it’s just one part of why I love this sport and its’ community.

Courtesy of The Street Fighter Wiki
Courtesy of The Street Fighter Wik

A community is only as strong as its’ members and the Fighting Game Community has always been family. I spoke about Jason and Johnny, but I can’t even begin to describe how beneficial they’ve been to me. I love my local scene and the people here are welcoming and honestly the funniest people I’ve ever met. The fighting game community is filled with compassionate people whose only desire was to help newer players get better. The grassroots community is one of the biggest strengths our community has and the competitive nature of our players is a key motivator.

Fighting games are competitive by nature and a good player is always looking to better themselves. This is one of the key fundamentals when learning any fighting game and it also serves as a valuable life lesson. Successful players build strong work ethics and challenge themselves in their day to day lives. Even the best players have admitted that there is so much more they could be learning and my two heroes, Diago Umehara and Alex Valle, are both examples of how players grow and mature. Daigo Umehara is known as the world’s greatest Ryu player, but recently he has been dedicating himself to being the world’s champion on his own terms. Alex Valle has been working to personally challenge himself while building a new generation of competitive players. Both players have come a long way from their initial rivalries and they work to show the best aspects of what the community can do.

Courtesy of SoCal Reigional
Courtesy of SoCal Reigional

A strong community is made of strong players united around games to play and there is an immense reward that comes from playing fighting games. A good match consists of two players who know their fundamentals, know their character and know each other. This type of match goes beyond the standard excitement of regular multiplayer and it easily the most rewarding competitive experience I’ve ever had. Fighting games are mental gymnastics combined with precise execution. Being able to read your opponent is a key skill and using those reads to create bad habits is the basis of higher level play.

Street Fighter, Guilty Gear and Tekken are all different beasts and no game is the exact same, but each offers a basic set of fundamentals that help to round out the player. The idea of taking a basic set of skills from numerous games to help build a player is a novel concept and the idea of building positive habits from a game is my favorite thing. Players developing training habits and progress goals have real life application which is something wholly unique to fighting games. You learn goal tracking from MMOs, but there’s no training in them. All I know is that fighting games have taught me proper study habits, how to set realistic expectations and an attitude that I should always be bettering myself.

Thank you all for giving me a platform to talk about why I love this sport and why I love my community. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the people in my scene or the friends who have helped push me to get there. I’ll be back next Sunday with a new Combo Breaker.

Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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