Useful Notes: Fighting Game Community
See also: Fighting Game and Useful Notes/Fighting Game Tournament Play, though it has been around for a while, has only recently reached the mainstream spotlight. For some titles, such as Starcraft, the rise to prominence is truly remarkable. The rise of Major League Gaming has made strides to legitimize videogames as a sport, and it's not uncommon to see game tournaments awarding cash prizes in the upwards of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, this rise in popularity has not gone evenly across the board. Completely distinct from MLG or "E-Sports" is the Fighting Game Community—a niche which is slowly but surely becoming more "mainstream", changing the community quite a bit.
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History of the FGC
First GenerationIn the beginning, there was Street Fighter II, and it was good. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was released in 1991, and was a critical and commerical success. Though fighting games had exist before it, this game was the Genre Popularizer and the Trope Codifier for nearly everything that fighting games possess today. Players from all over showed up with full wallets at their local arcades and took turns beating the crap out of each other to prove who was better. Naturally, people began to ask the question: just who is the BEST?! And thus, the Fighting Game Community took its first steps. Years prior to the advent of YouTube, gaming competitions were extremely obscure and insular events that were entirely self-perpetuating. In short, if you played the game, and you were good at it, chances were you would go to an arcade (or to someone else's house) to play against someone who was equally skilled or better. The only way to experience better competitive play was to see it, and face it in person (or, if you were lucky, on recorded video). All of this began to change with the internet, starting with message boards. On various disjointed forums, players of any particular game (or subsect of games) could meet and compare notes with other players and mutually try to improve. This made it easier to organize gatherings and compare "technology" (gamer jargon for improved playing methods). Of course, being a competitive community, where nearly all players were striving to one-up the other, this inevitably meant that Flame Wars were near-constant. In 2000, Shoryuken.com (of course named after the famous Street Fighter attack) was born and became the go-to forum for Street Fighter competitors. Other fighting-game sites were also in use, such as Virtuafighter.com and the (now-defunct) Soulcalibur.com (both of which were actually founded before shoryuken.com), but Shoryken.com in many ways became the "face" of the FGC. The creation of Shoryuken.com can be marked as the end of the "First Generation" of the Fighting Game Community and the beginning of the "Second Generation".
Second GenerationWith this new hub, the fighting game community quickly began to pool together to create "major" tournaments that would gather the best of the best from all over the country (and the world) in order to compete with each other. The "Evolution Championship Series" (or "Evolution 2K") was created in 2002, evolving from the previous "Battle by the Bay" tournament, and became their flagship tournament. In the earliest incarnations, BbtB and EVO were Street Fighter-only affairs. This quickly changed in 2003 with the addition of several additional series. About the same time, video footage of tournament events and combo exhibitions became commonplace. This footage became one of the major ways for players unfamiliar with the FGC to become "hype" for these events; either after watching other players better than them perform amazing feats, or after watching and deciding that they could do better themselves. However, this was a double-edged sword: the ability to watch footage online meant that players could copy others without the Meta Game context that went into their decision-making, causing them to mimic what they saw without truly understanding it. This only grew more pronounced as YouTube began taking off in popularity, with more and more FGC content ready and available for viewing by any interested parties. However, in the middle of the 00s, the FGC began slowly fading in popularity. There are many factors which have been blamed, but all had a hand to play in it. The dwindling arcade market, the increasing complexity and thus bar of skill required for new players, the (alleged) unfriendliness of experienced players toward newbies, and ultimately, the dwindling of fighting game sales and their subsequent lack of profitability. Of the aforementioned problems, some are subjective, but all created a particularly vicious circle. Even worse, it became increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain the machines that ran these games. Some games were never ported to a console, or even if they were, were not "arcade perfect" or were not available on a next-gen system. As new game technology was released, players were still forced to bring old systems and cabinets, controller adapters, and jury-rigged setups to every tournament, and these had a habit of being unreliable. Many of these problems, however, came to an end in 2009. And, ironically, it would come back to Capcom and Street Fighter.
Third GenerationIn 2009, after positive reception to Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting on X Box Live Arcade, Capcom announced the development of Street Fighter IV. As this was the first new Street Fighter title in over a decade (not including various crossover fighters), the FGC highly anticipated the new game—particularly when it was announced that the game would be highly modeled after the most-popular Street Fighter II and not the Alpha series or III series. This meant that both old-school players and new players would be able to play on fairly equal terms. Street Fighter IV was a tremendous success and is credited with resuscitating the FGC almost overnight, creating a new boom of fighting game popularity in the Seventh Generation. Thanks not only to a welcoming community but extremely successful marketing and support from Capcom, SFIV took the fighting game world by storm and became the new de-facto main event for most major tourneys. It also brought and influx of new players and Fighting Game afficionados into the mix, and has explosively increased the number of competitors. It has even brought players who had retired from the community back into the fold. The FGC has rolled with this new momentum and has expanded its curriculum to include new tournaments, including more Majors and local events as well as live-streams to allow fans to watch these events in real time and hear commentary which explains the matches as they happen. Sponsorship became a reality starting in 2010 with franchises like Evil Geniuses, Broken Tier, Mad Catz, and others paying players for free advertising. Daigo Umehara, a legendary Japanese player pictured above, even makes a living by Beta Testing games and merely stating that he likes it! Not everything is well in this new community, however. As mentioned before, other events such as Major League Gaming have outpaced the FGC's growth. While not necessarily less demanding, MLG games have a larger fanbase to pool from as most of them also come from series which benefit from a robust Single-player campaign. Also, it has been noted that many of these games cater to PC gamers as well as those with a higher level of income due to the expense to play them at a competitive level. Thus, the model which has worked for MLG does not carry over easily to the FGC, which although doing well, has yet to reach its potential. Further, the FGC is still very much a "boys club" and remains crass, rude, and boorish at times. Turn on any popular tournament stream and it's likely that you will hear something not suitable for small children of the faint of heart. Female fighting gamers, though increasing in number, are still fairly rare. This has led to accusations of sexism and harassment from more outspoken and vulgar members of the community, most notably on the controversial Cross Assault reality web series. The FGC while still going through growing pains, is very much alive and healthy for the moment. The years 2011 and 2012, in particular, have seen a resurgence of the fighting game genre, with the release of several new titles: Soul Calibur V, The King of Fighters XIII, Mortal Kombat 9, (Ultimate) Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tekken 6, Skullgirls, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Street Fighter X Tekken, and many, many more.
With the explosion of live-streaming on sites such as Twitch and U Stream, many local fighting game events have sprung up which can be viewed at their respective channels. The general FGC team page can be found here: http://www.twitch.tv/team/fgcpros.
- USA West Coast
- USA East Coast
- USA Midwest
- United Kingdom
- Open Online Lobbies
- Super Smash Bros. Community Stream
EVO Tournament SeasonThe 2014 Evolution Tournament series reached its close with Evolution 2014 on July 11-13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As usual, Street Fighter IV was the marquee title. The winner of each respective tournament has been crowned "Evolution World Champion" until the next tournament in 2015.
2014 EVO Tournament Season
EVO 2014 Champions
- Official games:
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Twitch | JDCR - South Korea (Armor King/Heihachi)
- Injustice: Gods Among Us: RG | Sonic Fox - USA (Batgirl)
- The King of Fighters XIII: Qanba | Xiao Hai - China (EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim)
- BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma: Garireo - Japan (Litchi)
- Killer Instinct: KN RM | CDjr - USA (Sadira, Jago)
- Super Smash Bros. Melee: C9 | Mang0 - USA (Fox)
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: EG | Justin Wong - USA (Storm/Wolverine/Akuma)
- Ultra Street Fighter IV: Meltdown | Luffy - France (Rose)
- Side tournaments:
- Mortal Kombat 9: RG | Sonic Fox - USA (Sonya Blade)
- Street Fighter X Tekken: Esuta - Japan (Law/Bob, Law/Elena, Hwoarang/King)
- Skullgirls: Dekillsage - USA (Double/Cerebella)
- Soulcalibur V: MVZ | Lolo - Mexico (Yoshimitsu)
- Soulcalibur II HD Online: Quick Pad Shen - Japan (Mitsurugi, Sophitia)
- Persona 4 Arena: TS | Lord Knight - USA (Mitsuru)
- Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R: RF - Japan (Faust)
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo Tournament of Legends: Mao - Japan (Vega)
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo X-Mania Team Tournament: Team M3 (Mao, Mattsun, TMF) - Japan (Vega, Ken, Zangief)
Other Tournament Seasons
Apex 2015 Smash Bros Champions note
- Super Smash Bros. Melee Singles: EG|PPMD - USA (Marth, Falco)
- Doubles: PL.MVG|Mew2King (Sheik) & Liquid|Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Singles: ZeRo - Chile (Diddy Kong)
- Doubles: PL.MVG|Mew2King (Diddy Kong) & ZeRo (Diddy Kong)
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl Singles: Ally - Canada (Snake, Meta Knight)
- Doubles: Nairo & Ally
- Super Smash Bros. Singles: TEG|SuPeRbOoMfAn - Canada (Captain Falcon, Pikachu)
- Doubles: JaimeHR & SuPeRbOoMfAn
- 1st Place: EG|Momochi (Ken)
- 2nd Place: RZR|Xian (Gen, Poison, Dhalsim)
- 3rd Place: MD|Luffy (Rose)
- 4th Place: Infiltration (Akuma, Elena, Chun-Li)
- 5th Place: EG|PR Balrog (Balrog, Evil Ryu), DIG|Prodigal Son (Ryu, Evil Ryu)
- 7th Place: RZR|Fuudo (Fei Long), GL|Valmaster (Chun-Li, Elena)
- 9th Place: MCZ|Daigo Umehara (Evil Ryu), CRS|NuckleDu (Guile, Decapre), Bonchan (Sagat), EG|Ricky Ortiz (Rufus)
- 13th Place: Nishikin (Blanka), Snake Eyez (Zangief), CNB|ChuChu (Sakura, C. Viper), EG|Justin Wong (Rufus)
- 1st Place: RZR|Fuudo (Shun, Lion)
- 2nd Place: RZR|Itazan (Shun)
- 3rd Place: Rocket (Brad)
- 4th Place: ChofuK·K Sarah (T-Arashi)
- 5th Place: Renzo (Brad), shidosha (T-Arashi)
- 7th Place: AyuFanb0y (Kage, El Blaze), Kamais_Ookin (Pai)
Tropes Common To This Community
- The Ace: Now has its own page. Here.
- Always Someone Better: Japan, for many, many years to the USA.
- Button Mashing: The "desperation" form of the trope is highly discouraged by the community. In some instances (like, for example, getting free from a dizzy), it's normal and necessary.
- Cavalier Competitor: Although far less common than the Spirited Competitor, there are many. In particular, they're the players who pick characters/teams "because they're fun" and not simply because they're more likely to win with them. These are the types of players that tend to appear in local/weekly tournaments more than regionals/majors. As such, the widespread community may not hear of them often, but they're likely to be a Hometown Hero.
- Celebrity Endorsement:
- The sponsorship phenomenon that has taken off since 2010.
- Most live streams are sponsored by a number of companies, as well. Usually companies that make apparel, accessories or peripherals for gamers.
- Popular Apex fighting game community was endorsed by Nintendo in 2015.
- Challenge Gamer: Hell yeah.
- Character Tiers: To be expected in any game.
- Combat by Champion: Whenever the top player from one region/nation plays the top player from another. In particular, some tournaments have 5 v 5 team battles or "Money Matches" to proclaim one region officially better than another.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: This was called That Damn Ken at some point for a reason. (Although, that strictly came from the Xbox Live community rather than the FGC.)
- Abridged Arena Array: Mostly within the Super Smash Bros. community, due to Smash having stages of various size with a number of hazards, unlike most fighting games where the only difference between stages is the appearance.
- Default Setting Syndrome: Kind of necessary to make sure everyone plays the same rules.
- Earn Your Fun: Standard advice given to any newbie is to stick with it during those early, frustrating losses and difficult execution curves. Getting better at competing, common wisdom says, will take you beyond the basic game and open up the "true game", which is deeper and more rewarding. Not to mention the perks, accolades, and money that comes with being one of The Aces mentioned above.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Low Tier God; A tall and muscular young man who is charismatic. He was promoted at the beginning of 2014 as a top online player that could dominate with Street Fighter IV characters whom ranked low on the tier list. However, after his major hype of becoming a pro tournament player, Low Tier God proved to be no competition for seasoned pros, or even the beginners like himself. The lowest point came during the summer of 2014, when Low Tier God was given a chance to prove himself on WNF (Wednesday Night Fights) thanks to Level|Up's Alex Valle. During his appearances, he would either get completely dominated or win one match, before being dominated. Then he got into a personal online beef with retired player and once EVO champion, Viscant, who called him a fraud. The two settled their beef during a first of ten match on WNF's. Low Tier God lost and so did his reputation from that point onward.
- Fountain of Memes:
- "Rare footage of Daigo actually angry..."note
- "It's MAH-VEL BAYBEE!"note
- "No Items! Fox Only! Final Destination!"note
- "What are you standing up for?" note
- "Five golden letters!" note
- "RUSSIAN SKIES PROTECTED" note
- "When's Marvel?" note
- "Haishina!" note
- "Download Complete!" note
- "Got Pee'd On!": note
- "Put_Sagat_in_X": note
- "Wombo Combo" note
- "PS3 LAG" note
- "Check out my Dormammu, dawg!" note
- "RAW ASS!"note
- "ALL OF IT!" note
- "Behave Yourself!" note
- Grandfather Clause: Many of the traits of the community are things which subsist from the old arcade days, as well as the early days of Shoryuken.com.
- Just Here for Godzilla: Most fighting games can't be bothered with the plot, and a common argument against this being rectified is that the FGC doesn't care what the plot is, anyway.
- No True Scotsman: Expect to see many arguments over whether some games count as "true" fighting games. This was commonly levied against the Super Smash Bros. community, prior to EVO 2013, to the point that SSB was rarely featured at an event, and even SSB players often think of themselves as a completely separate community. Fortunately, this has begun to die down as of late, in large part due to Super Smash Bros. Melee's run at EVO 2013. Nowadays, Melee, Project M, Smash 4, and even some Brawl events are featured at both weekly and major tournament events with their fellow fighters.
- Player Archetypes: Uses a rather different listing than what the trope itself states. Some types overlap, and some players specialize in only one.
- "Turtle"/"Lame": Playing incredibly safe and low-risk. Turtlers often attempt to bait the opponent into making mistakes so that they can move in for a quick punish before going back to playing defense. They either gradually grind the opponent down or wait until a specific condition (such as Time Over) gives them the win. Maintaining a life lead and meter advantage are crucial to their strategy. Often derided as "boring" or "cheap", but still considered valid.
- "Rushdown": Using heavy offense to defeat an enemy quickly and decisively, often including multiple angles or methods of attack to force split-second guessing or indefensible scenarios upon the opponent. The opponent is thus defeated before they ever have a chance to fight back. What type of offense qualifies as "rushdown" is debated, but it usually involves at least a small amount of risk. Usually considered very exciting to watch.
- "Random"/"UOP" (Unorganized Player): Uses unorthodox or unrefined methods of play to confuse players who have practiced basic strategy to the point of muscle memory. The more you've practiced to make your fighting style refined and polished, the harder it is to fight a UOP (pronounced "YAHP"), thus giving an edge against "skilled" players. There is no risk that they won't take. Often derided as a scrub, though most UO Ps usually acknowledge the superior skill of the opponent while some truly do possess real technical skill.
- "Execution Monster/Training Mode Monster": A player who has an extraordinarily high level of technical skill and has a greater arsenal of options at their disposal because they can do almost anything. Difficult but Awesome is their bread-and-butter. Any hit leads to an optimized combo, resulting in huge damage and (in some games) instant death. Every attack their opponent tries can be countered. On paper, they are perfect. However, their major weakness is their own bar of technical execution—becoming frustrated with an opponent, having an "off day", or dropping difficult maneuvers at the worst moment makes them a sitting duck for a player that can capitalize on their mistakes with easy but effective punishes.
- The Reliable One: Unanimously agreed by the entire FGC to be Victor "Spooky" Fontanez, the man behind the Team Sp00ky stream. Affectionately referred to as "the hardest-working man in the business", Spooky has worked for several years now to provide high-quality streaming and recorded matches to the FGC. He's mentioned that it's tiresome, thankless work, and he frequently pays for expenses out of his own pocket whenever sponsors or donations won't cut it. He works majors, minors, regionals and weeklies with very few days off. It's easily safe to say that Spooky has pioneered the way fighting game tournaments streams are done.
- Scrub: Perhaps one of the most (in)famous uses of the term comes from David Sirlin's Playing To Win article, which defined the player as someone who will always complain about losing to something "unfair".
- Shoto Clone: Any character with a projectile and an upward attack will invariably be considered a "shoto".
- Some Dexterity Required: The longer a game is competitive, the more it will fall under this trope. Eventually, to stand a chance even against intermediate players, you will need to pass the execution barrier. This can be daunting for new players. However, as pro gaming has taken off and more players have joined the scene, anyone with the dedication can learn to train their muscle memory. It just takes time and a love for the game.
- Spirited Competitor: The entire community, more or less.
- Stop Being Stereotypical:
- In the last few years, the FGC has began policing its own more. For example, as a part of "geek culture", it's been common to see gamers with poor manners, hygiene and social skills do some uncomfortable, offensive, or annoying things. Becoming more and more mainstream has forced much of the community to clean up its act, although many complaints are still levied.
- In 2014, PR Balrog had an interview which berated the US community for not doing enough to help each other and grow together. He said that Japanese players play for "quality", not just results. Each player is encouraged to refine their play to become better, even if what they do is currently working. US players are Competition Freaks by comparison, and maintain a Darwinian "Every Man For Himself" attitude.
- “Stop Having Fun” Guys: Commonly levied against the community itself due to some condescension from its ranks. You will often hear complaints from professionals that a particular attack, character, or strategy is "bad" or "worthless", even if they're simply average.
- Taught by Experience: Tends to come up a lot in matches between new players and O.G.s. Of note is the October 2014 USFIV grudge match between Viscant and Low Tier God. The consensus from the community was that Low Tier God has much, much greater technical skill and ability than Viscant, but Viscant merely outplayed him with better Street Fighter fundamentals which can only come from years of experience. Other players known to have better experience than ability include Alex Valle, Sanford Kelly, Mike Ross, HugS, and Mew2King.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
- Every single new game, patch, or re-release gets this at some point.
- Deliberately defied with Ultra Street Fighter IV. Capcom Community Manager, Peter "Combofiend" Rosas, specifically stated that the reason players can pick any past or present version of an SF4 character in Ultra is to avoid this trope. You can't complain about your character being changed if you can play whatever version of them you want.
- However, after the release of the final build of Ultra, "Version Selection" has not yet been declared Tournament Legal. Thus, this complaint still stands with some characters.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Look at the page image for that trope. This community is largely responsible.
- Values Dissonance: A newcomer to the FGC would probably be surprised at how often "nigga" is thrown around as a friendly way to refer to somebody, used by stream monsters, players, and even commentators.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Pretty much describes most rivalries. In particular, the East Coast and West Coast are particularly harsh toward each other. So Cal vs. Nor Cal is also a notable rivalry. However, they will opt for some Teeth-Clenched Teamwork when facing off against "outsiders". For example, Nor and So Cal will team up to fight the Midwest and East Coast. The various coasts will team up to fight Mexico and Canada. The Americas will team up to fight Europe. And the entire "West" will team up against Japanese (or Korean) players.
- As Mexico rises in notability in the scene, a similar effect has happened. There was also USA vs The World at Seasons Beatings 2012.
- And now that Canada has finally shaken off the "free" jokes....
- You Fight Like a Cow: In US competition, trash-talk is considered healthy and encouraging (in most cases), especially in the Marvel vs. Capcom community. Players often even make whole wrestling-style promos to berate their opponents or rival factions.
- Averted, to a degree, in Japan. The Japanese player community allegedly considers it rude and distasteful to trash talk to another player's face. However, GIFT still applies on message boards and chat forums.