Picture The Scene

Regular readers to the site might know that I am into my fighting games. Honestly, I’ll play and watch any video game with a compelling competitive nature, be it FPS, Racing, Strategy or otherwise. However, in the past few years I’ve come to discover the joys of the competitive fighting game world. It’s an exciting place, heroes and legends are made in the blink of an eye, a storming performance at a tournament, pulling off amazing combos on live web streams, knocking a prominent player out of a major tournament. There’s tricks, mind-games, peak performance play, there are blow-outs and comebacks. It’s a sport waiting to happen.

However, the local scene in Glasgow, no less the rest of Scotland, is fleeting. There is an obvious reason for this; fighting games are hard. Recently, Versus-Scotland held a Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 event in Glasgow, which was well attended at over 100 people. Being such a fan of these games, I watched with great enjoyment at the tournaments being held there. Later in the evening, a friend from work I had convinced to attend popped in to see what all the noise was. As we watched the tournament matches being played on a projector at the end of the room, I realised how much had to be explained to him, being that he had no experience with this sort of thing before. We stood together for around an hour, I discussing and teaching various terms and techniques to him, he listening diligently as best he could over the loud chatter and occasionally louder screams of joy and excitement. To his credit he was interested in the whole affair, and was genuinely curious to learn the ins and outs. At that point I realised just how alienating our scene can be. Whilst knowing the simple rules and outcome of any fighting game’s win parameters (hit the other guy ’till bar at top is empty) is enough to enjoy a match, to understand it is a different thing. This, is a problem.


Be sure to check out Dan playing the drunkest money match ever!

As a person picking up something like Street Fighter 4, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat or another similar game, you are forgiven for not knowing this ‘Understanding’ I speak of exists, and that’s fine. I’m not suggesting that the only way to enjoy Blazblue is to watch tournaments and discuss high level tactics, but it can help squeeze more fun out of the genre. The problem is then, how do you learn all of this? The games themselves do a very poor job of explaining these higher level play mechanics, focusing rather on just teaching you combos. The exception to this is BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, which offers a fairly robust tutorial which will help not just in that game, but in all 2D fighters. So must the scholar seek out the knowledge elsewhere? Unfortunately, yes. As someone who’s gone through this process recently, I can assure you it’s possible. There is a lot of media out there to consume, a lot of learning can be done. Therein, though, lies the big problem.

MVC3 Guide
This book is like the MVC3 bible. Unlike it's Christian counterpart, it's pretty hard to find.

To return us back to the launch party, and to the conversations with my colleague. As an avid Call Of Duty player (and a good one, too!) he’s not shy to the world of competitive gaming. I could see, though, by reading his language and enthusiasm, that Street Fighter 4 at high level is too closed off, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is too insane looking. Unfortunately, the problem is not that people don’t understand how much fun it can be, but just don’t have the inclination to learn, and that is a shame. Not for them, but for me, and the scene.






3 responses to “Picture The Scene”

  1. Branstar avatar

    I feel similarly when looking at a high level Quake 3 match; lots of jumping about and seemingly random running around, with non-visible tracking of pick ups and last known position/likely heading etc. Same with high level RTS; I can see the skill involved but don’t find the gameplay suits my preferences. I enjoy fast paced guessing games with a moderate level of skill required to perform moves and a broad range of options available at any one time – this pushes me towards fighting games, with Street Fighter and Soul Calibur being my favourites and Honda and Astaroth my characters in each game respectively (Honda for command throw and *easy* combos, Astaroth for high/low/air throw and unblockable throw)

    If I’m going to invest sufficient time in a game to compete, I’ll have to love the basic mechanics and enjoy doing the same thing over and over again; there needs to be sufficient depth to interest me and it’ll help if the game plays to an existing strength. To get into a new challenge I’d need a few friends getting in at the same time, to bounce off of and compete against in a friendly way, encouraging each other before testing our skills against the wider gaming community to see our relative standing. Playing against top level opponents or watching high level games where I can’t understand what’s going on wouldn’t be much use and might even put me off at a really early stage.

  2. Simon avatar

    It’s a vicious circle isn’t it? You need the depth and high skill ceiling for a tournament-level game, but that very depth alienates novices.

    Not sure what the answer is.

  3. Zohair (Darkhadou) avatar
    Zohair (Darkhadou)

    It’s a very niche genre because of its origins I find, I’ve convinced some friends to start with SF4, SSF4 and now MvC3 but these friends were already interested in pro gaming in general. I find, the easiest way to get anyone interested and hungry for more, as far as the fighting game scene goes for new blood, is to take them to an event OR hook em up with a Team Sp00ky stream of a tournament going on the US.

    It’s so well done and it brings the hype to you, if you can’t get interested from listening to these guys and watching the stream then I don’t think you’re ever going to be interested in fighters tbh. If there’s that tiny spark in you waiting to ignite, streams will set it ablaze. Without a doubt.

    Wish I knew where to start with Starcraft 2 streams though, the sheer number of them is what alienates me rather than the learning curve.

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