Update: I’ve written a small piece in response to the feedback I’ve been given today, it can be found here.
Yesterday I published this article about why I personally think that fighting games are bad for gaming in general, due to the fact I feel that people from the fighting game scene or community are quick to insult new or casual players, written from the perspective of a casual player. The reaction was immediate and swift, people were quick to start insulting me for just being a casual observer of the scene. Which was so ironically beautiful, Alanis Morissette songs started playing on my laptop as soon as I scrolled down to the comments.
Now the biggest criticism I got was that I’d simply not done the research, a common complaint. Sure I may not play fighting games for a living, but I do write for a living, as such I didn’t know whether to be complimented of insulted by the insinuation that I’d not done any research before openly criticising thousands of people, as it suggests I’m either stupid or have huge balls.
The truth is I did, do the research, I researched how my opinion that fighting games have a notable mindset that excludes certain people was shared by respected gaming blogs like Kotaku and Penny Arcade. Then I researched how this attitude was openly criticised by Capcom then confirmed in interviews with respected members of the community. But none of those really get the scene right? They’re just people like me, guys with no experience in the area criticising something they don’t understand. I mean, come on, it’s not like one of the lead editors of Shoryuken.com, one of the biggest and most respected representatives of the fighting game community as a whole, openly admitted there’s a problem with certain small subsections of the scene being dicks and condoned the shit out of them for ruining it for everyone or anything.
This isn’t just my gripe I hammered out in ten minutes because I got my ass handed to me on Tekken, it’s something I researched and feel strongly about because I love fighting games. Along with criticisms I’d done poor research I was also informed that I was being unfair for criticising fighters in general when online gaming as a whole is a shitstorm of dickishness. Which is true, but even the fucking New York Times notes fighters as a specific example of this happening. This criticism goes hand in hand with the accusation that I was supporting or defending Call of Duty in some way.
Now, I’ll openly admit that Call of Duty is a great game, however, it’s great because, as I’ve mentioned before, that game is so hilariously broken and cheap, anyone can play it. That isn’t the case with fighters, they require dedication and practise, as such getting people to invest their time or money into buying them is a lot fucking harder, which is probably why shooters completely eclipse fighters in sales every year. Yes the dickish behaviour is present in Call of Duty and it needs to be addressed, but if 10,000 people stopped playing Call of Duty online tomorrow it would hardly make a dent. If the same thing happened to almost any fighter it would cripple its online element. Like it or not, no amount of dedicated fans will convince a company to keep making a video game if the sales aren’t there. Just look at Mega Man. I’ll be honest, I want to be able to play Tekken with grandkids, so I’d like it if they kept making them.
I’m not criticising fighters because they’re bad and Call of Duty is great, I’m holding them to a higher standard because they’re better.
Another criticism I had, was my inclusion of ChockoBlanka as my example of a good female competitive player, as some were quick to point out she’s not that good (but not because she’s a woman). I could have of course mentioned Kayane, Harli or any other number of female players. But there was no point, since any female player I mentioned would have been met with the same derisive comments. But hey, what would I know about predicting people’s responses to things I write online, it’s not like I wrote a book about it.
At its heart my article had a simple message, I feel that fighting games have a bad reputation for being hard to get into, whether or not that reputation is true is unimportant, since you have to be an active member of the community to know that for sure and you’re less likely to join or participate in a community that has that reputation in the first place. Which was the whole point.
The reason this is harmful to gaming as a whole is because fighters take more skill, hence are already off-putting to gamers as a whole since gaming is mostly seen as a casual hobby, that coupled with constant news stories about it being a boy club or the fact people will yell at you until you cry if you lose put’s people off. Now I’m going to quote probably the best writer I know, Mr David Wong to sum this up, because I can honestly think of no better was to summarise this article, “when I tell somebody to avoid the “bad part of town” I’m not saying everyone who lives in those neighborhoods is a criminal. I’m saying that there are enough of them that there’s a really good chance you’ll have a bad experience”.
The article was never written to criticise the fighting game community as a whole, it was to criticise the fact there is a very small, nonetheless, very vocal and visible minority that have the potential to make it unpleasant, or appear unpleasant to casual or newer players. Which hurts their chances of being popular. The comments and emails I’ve had since yesterday show that, that this isn’t something I’ve pulled out of my ass. My email inbox is far, far worse at the moment.
Like I said, I don’t think fighting games are bad, I think they’re great, but they’re by a large margin, one of the least popular genres of gaming among casual players and casual players are the ones driving the fucking industry. Actively excluding anyone is a stupid idea because when the time comes for a game company to decide where their money is going to go, their decision is just going to be made infinitely easier.
Investing in anything other than a shooter or sports game is a risky move, in an industry where only 20% of video games make any profit at all risks are pretty much business suicide. The more a community or genre excludes players, it becomes increasingly less and less likely that those players are going to keep supporting that genre or community. Then where will we be left? I don’t need to ask that question, because David Wong already answered it.
Now, I was also criticised as some people noted, fighters actually don’t exclude anyone, and all those links I posted to them doing exactly that are all lies. The only barrier for entry is skill. Which is true. But when you treat those who lack it with contempt or mockery or it’s perceived that you do, they’ll go home. When your response to people wanting to play a game you like is “step up or fuck off” instead of “let’s have fun, if you lose, we’ll work on that” you can’t claim to like that game, because every person you inspire to not pick up that game is money that would fund the company you supposedly support walking right the fuck away.
Now I hope RenegadeVA doesn’t mind me using his comment, because I honestly respect his opinion and insight. But I wanted to use it as an example of my whole point. Fighters are seen as an exclusive club you have to earn you way into which does give new players something to work towards, but at the same time, players are so into that idea, it can manifest itself in an opinion that is actually harmful to the game itself. Anyway you look at it, if only the several thousand competitive players bought a game, they would not release a sequel. Evo 2012 saw 3500 entrants, even if you said there was 100 times that number of people around the globe who played fighters religiously and each one of those bought and played every fighting game. It wouldn’t even cover the cost of animating Jin Kazama’s dick swing.
But words are cheap. I’ve seen that people feel strongly about this, so I’m going to do something about it. If people out there really think I’m wrong about the fighting game community not being welcoming to new/casual players, prove it. My Gamertag is DarkestDragoon, feel free to add me and show me first hand that I’m wrong, I’ll be documenting the results, if any, next week. Or you could keep insulting me in the comment section, because that will change my mind.
I never wrote the article to insult the community, I wrote it to say that the community is intimidating
As much as he’s probably going to regret this. Karl also has a Twitter, if you’re going to insult him you may as well know what his face looks like.