Recently, King Hippo wrote a piece saying that while content for the FGC is great there is a severe lack of critical content within the scene. It was a really interesting read that I had a lot of thoughts on so I wanted to break down some things and give my opinion on them. (As a nobody in the scene of course.)
This is a very hard thing for me to talk about because I really understand both sides of the argument. While the esports system does increase financial gain for the people at the top the most there really isn’t any financial gain that exists currently anyway.
Here is DEB and PepperySplash asking someone to help them pay their fees to compete at Combo Breaker 2019. These are easily two of the best players in North America in Guilty Gear and they are struggling to be able to go to big tournaments and compete due to financial restrictions. If even the top players can’t afford to compete I can’t imagine the lower players are making much if anything at all.
While I agree, that it is in fact very difficult to become an “influencer” in a scene it isn’t impossible. I don’t think it’s rigged. If you make good content and people want to see it you’ll get popular and if you get popular you’ll become an “influencer.” That said, I’m not naive enough to think that when you get big companies involved they don’t have agendas. This includes things like having people that they look favorably upon. It’s a big of a double edged sword. I don’t really disagree with what your saying but what we have now is arguably worse. No one wins at all. Top players sometimes struggle to make it to events and smaller players just as much if not even more.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to this belief. Content is a business, as you suggest. I mean if people are going to put time into something they expect some sort of return. Whether that is building an audience, making money, or pursuing something they love. However, I don’t think that it doesn’t do a lot for the community. I mean there are so many examples. Let’s take someone who reviews a game. They review games, tell you what they like and don’t like, and you make a decision to buy or not buy based off of what you have been told. If you agree with this person they have now built your trust and you will look out for their reviews in the future. If they suggest getting a fighting game then you’re likely to look into it because you value their opinion. Look at someone like Maximilian. I’m sure there are a great number of people who got into fighting games because of his videos. Hell, I used to watch his MvC3 videos all the time and they got me into the game. Would you say that he didn’t help the community because he profited off of it?
What about people who do tutorial videos, guides, and match analysis? I would say that they are educating viewers about the games and helping to deepen their understanding of the game. This creates more complete players which in turn raises the level of competition and makes tournaments more fun to watch. Does that not impact on the community?
I mean I could go on with how content does in fact help. I do interviews and a big reason I did them was because I’ve always been a fan of story lines. I want someone to root for and someone to hate. It gets me more invested in what I am watching and I think getting to know players on a more personal level helps with that. Does that help with growth? I don’t know. But I don’t think we can dismiss all these types of content creation as not helping to grow the scene. Perhaps it would be smaller now without it.
There is a lot to unpack here so bear with me. First, I agree, peer-to-peer interaction is not amazing in fighting games. You’ll deal with a lot of toxic people who will shit talk you even if you are new and tell you to kill yourself, stop playing, you’re awful, etc. But you will find that in almost any game that involves other people. That’s the nature of the internet. There are plenty of awful people in the scene but there are also plenty of great and helpful people.
I do think that as you suggest that fighting games are much harder to just pick up and play. Shooting games, for example, while they have a lot of nuance and tactics the game play is mostly just pointing and shooting. Fighting games require a high level of execution, match up knowledge, or understanding of sometimes complex mechanics. (Another reason tutorial content is nice.)
But again, another reason people don’t go to tournaments is that there isn’t a ton of incentive to do so. Let’s take me for example. I live outside of Boston. I would have to go to Boston to compete at Balance Patch. I’d have drive to the train station, pay for parking, pay for a train ticket, pay for a subway ticket, pay to play the game, and then have to go all the way back to where I live. That’s a big investment for very little return other than maybe a fun night with some friends. I don’t have the kind of money to be making those trips. Now imagine if I had to get a hotel room, plane tickets, parking garage, etc. Does the fun outweigh the cost? For most people probably not. Couple that with the toxic people that you seem to be alluding to and I think that is why you don’t have more people. I also think the pool structure only allows for so many entrants due to time constraints so that is also an issue.
I don’t totally disagree with what is being said here. However, it’s not like these problems don’t exist in other games. But these games have much larger audiences. So what is causing the gap? If I log into a CS game right now people will call me names and tell me to kill myself. If I boot up a fighting game with voice chat the same thing will happen. Yet one is vastly more popular than the other. I don’t think people feeling alienated is causing a cosmic ripple in the player base. I think there are a lot of factors at play.
A big factor in my opinion (other than what you have already listed) is that fighting games can often be hard to understand to a casual listener. When commentators throw out words like Oki or meaty viewers have no idea what they are talking about. It’s also very hard in some games to understand what is happening on the screen. This is another reason I think it is important to have talent at events to be able to break down matches and do post match analysis so that casual viewers can appreciate the game.
For example, I’ve never played competitive football in my life. But, I can appreciate it for what it is. I can understand it, the commentators talk about what’s happening on the field, they’ll draw lines and explain what players are going to do. It makes for a great viewing experience. My girlfriend on the other hand can’t understand football at all. She says it’s too complicated and she can’t understand it so she refuses to watch it. Similar things occur in esports. If it’s too complex it will turn off large viewing bases so it needs to be digestible.
I don’t disagree with anything you said here really. I think the issue is that these are big people in the scene so when it comes to someone like myself who does interviews they won’t even give us the time of day. On top of that, as you mention, these are controversial topics and even if they did give us the time of day they wouldn’t likely respond to them as to not ruin their own image. Not saying it is right or wrong, just the truth of the matter.
Ultimately, I agree with a lot of what is being said in Hippo’s article. I highly recommend giving the whole thing a read as I only hit on a few points. The community is great, but it could always be better and it should strive to do so. However, I think there are a lot of issues that are preventing fighting games from getting bigger outside of just that.