Gaming

Yesterday it was 20 degrees for the first time in ages. That can only mean one thing.

Summer’s here! And more importantly, Road Trip season is here!

The Rules Of The Road (Trip)

I love road trips. I try to take one a year, usually to the far off mystical city of Toronto, where the nearest other big Canadian fighting games community is. I made many new friends thanks to these trips, and got into hilarious misadventures thanks to the zany group of geeks I travel with.

Due to the large number of trips taken, and the many silly incidents that occurred, I’ve come up with a bunch of unofficial road trip rules that I try to follow.

1. Seats rotate (divide trip in 4)
The annual Toronto road trip is as follows: 5 hours to get there, 5 hours to come home. There’s one stop each time, at roughly the 2.5 hour mark, in or near Kingston. This effectively splits the trip into 4 parts, and each passenger will have a different seat per part. The key I’ve found is to shotgun the backseat middle as soon as possible, and get it out of the way while you’re still fresh, so you can grab the front seat or one of the sides when you’re tired.

2. Driver gets priority
Seriously, the guy is driving about 5 hours each way, he deserves whatever he wants. If the driver needs a piss break, then goddamn he’s getting one. If the driver wants to fart and rolls up the windows to hotbox the car, then it’s hilarious. Deal with it.

3. Junk food is de rigueur
Road trips aren’t quite the same if you don’t eat some really greasy stuff that makes you feel like a teenager. I personally go for the Wendy’s, but it’s also acceptable to share a bucket of KFC with the boys if they’re into it.

4. If you’re gonna buy a porn mag, buy a 5-pack
This one may require an explanation. The last time we took a road trip, we stopped at a small town somewhere near Kingston. After sharing a bucket of chicken, we walked over to a small corner store to purchase some beverages and quench our thirst. As I was browsing the magazines, I noticed a big green sticker that said “5-PACK!” on a porn magazine.

“They sell porn magazines in 5-packs?” I thought. “More importantly, who still buys porn magazines? Don’t these people have the internet?”

So I pulled it off the shelf. Sure enough, there were 5 magazines taped together: one for each of us. Perfect. As I got into the car, I distributed them amongst the geeks, and let me tell you, it was hilarious. Cougars, foot fetish, shaving… I must’ve hit the kink jackpot. I saved the best one for the driver, of course, and as we showed him a centerfold spread, we were rewarded with a very loud exclamation.

“Why the FUCK does mine have a chick with a GODDAMN A DICK ON IT?!”

Yep. That one’s going down in the history books.

5. Gas gets split
This one’s kinda obvious. 5 people in the car, the gas gets split 5 ways. There’s no escaping it. If you’re part of the trip, then you’re pitching in for gas.

6. Figure out the sleeping situation beforehand
It’s very easy to get caught up in the ride details, as well as what we’re going to do at our destination (play fighting games), and forget about where we’re spending the night. We usually like to double check with our Toronto fighting gamers to ensure we can crash at one of their houses, but we have slept in very strange places before. Notable places of the past include parents’ house, the car, the floor of an all girls dorm, and no sleep at all, we just drove back all night. Which leads me to my next point…

7. Night driving requires a wingman
Not to be confused with the other kind. Driving at night is super dangerous, especially if the driver’s exhausted. If it can’t be avoided, make sure the geek in the front seat is awake, chatty, and keeping the driver up. We’ve had scares in the past where the car started drifting off the highway.

Thankfully it hit the bumpy noisemaker things on the sides, and my friend woke up and yelled “oh boss get back on the road or we’ll never play Tekken again!”

Seriously. You can’t make stuff like that up.

8. No smelly people
I can’t emphasize this one enough. If someone has really bad BO, it will spoil the mood of the trip. Shower, do your laundry, wear some deodorant. Whatever you do, DON’T STINK. Because you’re only going to get sweatier and smellier as the drive goes on.

This rule came out as a direct result of the Smelly incident of 2007. You see, at the time, one of our members bailed at the last minute. Wanting to help out, my good buddy Travis (names changed to protect the innocent) asked if he could bring his friend, also a gamer, to save money on gas. We unfortunately agreed.

Before our departure, he and his friend, henceforth referred to as Smelly, spent the night at Al’s house. Apparently, Smelly’s mild stink increased to mad BO overnight. To remedy this, Al suggested a shower in the morning. Alas, it was not enough, and Smelly continued to reek as the day wore on.
It got so bad that the driver said “No Smelly in the front seat,” and according to rule #2, the driver gets what the driver wants.

Unfortunately, this meant that everyone in the back had to deal with Smelly, who by this point had moved on from his original wet dog smell and mutated into a dead fish odor. To compensate for this, we put Travis in the middle forever, so he’d constantly act as a buffer between us and his stinky friend. It still wasn’t enough. We rolled down the windows. Nope. People smoked to cover the smell. Shake head sadface.

After we arrived in Toronto, and spent the day playing games, we realized how awesome it was to breathe real air again. As the time neared to return home, Al went up to Smelly, handed him a freshly bought deodorant stick, and asked him to put it on. Smelly began applying it under his arms, when Al shook his head.

“No man, ALL OVER.”

We all silently applauded Al’s valor, but it was to no avail. The ride home smelled like a decomposing corpse and deodorant stick.

9. Music is videogames related, or Michael Jackson
In all the years we’ve road tripped together, there have only been only two occasions where the music was to everyone’s satisfaction.

The first was when we played the Final Fantasy VII official 4-CD soundtrack. It’s about 4.5 hours of music, which covers nearly the whole trip. And it’s amazing. I mean come on, who doesn’t like the FFVII soundtrack? Since then, it’s become a staple, and along with videogame related chiptune music, makes sweet love to everyone’s ears.

The second occasion was when someone put on the classic Michael Jackson Thriller album. Because no one argues with Thriller.

10. Kick ass! We’re going on a road trip!
Bags are packed, controllers are ready, tank is full, friends are together, fun has just begun, hurray!

Do you have any road trip rules? When was the last time you took one, and was it awesome?

This last two months have been a big fail. In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve been failing a lot lately.

Since I returned home to Montreal nearly two months ago, I’ve been stuck at home for a total of three weeks thanks to some crazy diseases: pneumonia in April, and gastroenteritis right now.

I’ve been hit by a wave of failure with the women I’ve been approaching, getting blown out by nearly every girl for the past two weeks.

My work productivity hasn’t increased at all. In fact, I haven’t met a single one of my blog goals for April and May.

I didn’t cook as regularly as I promised myself I would, and have been eating out a lot, adding to my unhealthy regimen.

I’ve been losing at fighting games lately much more frequently than I usually do.

Finally, in part thanks to the two freaky diseases I caught, I haven’t built up the stamina I desired at the gym, nor have I reached the weight goal I set myself to be ready for the Spartan Race in June.

It feels like everything’s in a big downward spiral.

Why Failure Is Important

It seems almost cyclical, that things really go my way, and I’m on fire for a few months, then all of a sudden, everything unravels and goes to hell.

November to January seemed so full of promise, with the end of my TV work. February to March was a state of limbo, where things were uncertain. And April and May have so far been one big shit show.

As I took a night off to wallow in self-pity, I went through some old notes that I took when I interviewed a friend about his success. I found a quote that is nothing short of brilliant:

“If you never fail, you’re a fucking coward.”

I paused for a second, and remembered the conversation that spawned it.

“It’s like this: if you always succeed, it’s because you’re staying in your comfort zone and only doing the things you know you’re good at. Take the stable easy job that you know you can do, pick up the girl you don’t find attractive, win at the game you’ve played a thousand times before. But know in your heart that you’re still a goddamn coward for not pushing any boundaries.”

Whoa. Holy epic flashback Batman!

Pretty timely too.

A Bunch Of Solutions

It’s so easy to sit around and beat ourselves up over failures. It eats time, requires very little effort, and is probably more pleasurable short term than analyzing what’s wrong, changing the approach, and putting in extra work.

In my case, I realized I’m actually pushing all my boundaries at once, hence all the failures. The only things I couldn’t really control were the two illnesses I picked up: everything else is a result of a conscious decision I made.

Since getting nervous around a woman for the first time in ages, I’ve been only approaching women that make me nervous. Makes sense that I fail a lot, I have to work on my confidence and approach.

I’ve been losing at fighting games a lot because I’m learning King of Fighters XIII, a totally new game to me. And my cockiness was preventing me from seeing my mistakes.

My blog goals haven’t been met. This one’s hard to admit, but I’ve been lazy. Gotta suck it up and get to work.

Haven’t been cooking as much as I should. I think we’re all guilty of this one, so I’ll use the same method I did when I got in shape last year, and create a precise meal plan, which I then follow to the letter.

Finally, my gym goals. You know what? I was sick. I’ll give myself a pass on this guy. Hopefully by being more gentle with myself and eating better, my immune system will take care of everything except for the workout. I can handle those myself.

I don’t have a real solution for you folks today. What I do have are two questions you can ask yourself:

Have I failed lately? And is it because I’m pushing too hard, or not hard enough?

 

When I was 8, I borrowed a friend’s Super Nintendo with a copy of Street Fighter II.

I was in heaven! It was the pinnacle of my achievements that year, alongside beating Faxanadu and getting my own pool cue.

Seriously, play this game. It's awesome.

I spent a week playing that game on my own, learning to do a Shoryuken, and constantly wearing all my green clothes and trying to roll around the house like Blanka.

However, there was one dark day that marred my beautiful game: it was the day I faced off against my older brother.

We must’ve played 15 games, all of which he lost (like a BITCH!). After all my victories, he said “c’mon bro, take the weakest character, I don’t know how to play this game.”

Little did I know, it was a trap.

Being 8, and not knowing how to do a 360°, I took Zangief, in my mind the worst character, and one that I had never used before. My brother took Ken, and after a hard match, beat me by a fraction of a sliver of life on the last round.

“Yes! I WIN!” he exclaimed, as he jumped up and pumped his fists into the air. “I win! I’m the best!”

I sat there and looked at him, waiting for the rematch.

“C’mon, hit play again,” I said.

“Nope,” he replied. “I beat you, and I won. I now retire as the undefeated champion. I’m not playing this game anymore.”

And he walked away. That was 20 years ago.

Trash Talking

Whenever I play someone, I talk some mad shit. Win, lose or draw, it doesn’t matter, my catchphrase is “I’m the best.”

Two years ago, when I was learning to play Street Fighter IV, I essentially got beat down for 9 months before finally breaking even with my buddy. And during that time, even though my win ratio was about 1 in 25, I would not shut up.

“Alright, it’s cool. I lost that one, but you know what? I was studying your moves, and now I can read you. I’m in your mind. Prepare to get beat down.”

Lose again.

“You know what? I was taking it easy on you. But this time? It’s ON for realsies. I’m going to kick your ass now.”

Lose again.

“I’m in the zone. Those 49 games you just won? I was learning all of your strats. Now that I have assimilated you, I’m going to beat you with a belt and take this one.”

Win! 

“See? Told you I was going to win.”

My buddy, of course, laughed his ass off. He didn’t mind the incessant shit talking, because he was still winning 24 of 25 games. He knew that none of what I was saying made any sense, and it was all in good fun anyway. Slowly though, ever so slowly, the shit talking began to seep into his brain, until one day…

“I win!” he shouted. “I’m the best now. You think you’re good? I beat you down. Go ahead, do a random Shoryuken. I’ll punish you FOREVER!”

Ding. He has been assimilated.

The Origin of Trash Talking

The funny thing is, when I moved to Montreal ten years ago, I met with the local Tekken community, and proceeded to shit talk them like a madman when we played. They had never seen anything like it, and were shocked at my insanity.

However, over the years, the more I trash talked, the more they got into it.

Now? We all get together and tear each other apart when we play. It’s part of the ritual of playing fighting games, and one of the main reasons I don’t enjoy online play so much.

What’s the point of beating your opponent down, when you can’t trash talk them the whole time and see the expression on their face? Even worse, what if I have a mic and he doesn’t? I get the pleasure of trash talking him, but can’t enjoy any of his rebuttals.

Be careful though: it’s very easy to cross a line, and you don’t want to actually hurt your buddy’s feelings with your words. You just want to crush his pride.

Epilogue

“A year has passed since Bimmy and Jimmy defeated…” oh wait, my bad. Wrong story.

So in 2009, a full 17 years after my crushing defeat at the hands of my shit talking older brother, I finally had my revenge. I went to visit my family over Christmas, when he brought over his copy of a UFC fighting game.

He then challenged me to a match. He must’ve forgotten about his previous victory when I was a child, but I hadn’t. Because I, like Ryu, have a real fighting spirit.

And am probably a little insane.

We put the game in, and as he and my other brother duked it out, I picked up the instruction manual and learned the buttons.

When it was my turn to play, I almost couldn’t contain the glee in my body. This was it, the moment of truth. This was retribution.

We played, and although I struggled for a few minutes with the controls (UFC Fighter is no Tekken), I slowly but surely used everything in my arsenal to take control of the match.

Spacing, footsies, good defence, patience… all of the tools I’ve been practicing since Tekken 2. The result?

I wiped the floor with my bro, and FINALLY TOOK MY RIGHTFUL PLACE AS KING OF EVERYTHING!

The world was in balance once more, and I was free to move on with my life and walk off into the sunset.

Also, I’m the best.

Geeks, are you the best? Ladygeeks, are you the best? NO! I’m the best. Get over it.

I love my fighting games community (FGC). Although lately most of my articles have been about seduction and women, today’s focus is on my first love: fighting games.

Long before I was into girls, I was into fighting games. I’ve been playing Street Fighter II since I was 7, and Tekken since I was 11. I’ve played and loved all kinds of fighting games, from the classics mentioned above, to the slow Star Wars ripoff Star Gladiator, to the illegal and unreleased Thrill Kill, to the hilarious and very broken Ehrgeiz, to the Japan-only release Tobal 2.

If it’s obscure, and it’s a fighting game, I’ve played it and loved it. And if there was a tournament near me, I was in it.

As such, given that I now run GutsyGeek as my own business, I will be using it to sponsor fighting games tournaments.

In fact, I already have.

The Humble Beginnings 

Twelve years ago, when I participated in my local fighting games tournament in France, I got my first taste of what a sponsor meant in a tournament. The local store in my little French town of Annemasse threw a Tekken Tag Tournament tournament (that’s fun to say). When my buddy and I placed first and second respectively, we won a ton of prizes.

Street Fighter toys, hours of free play at the store, a (blunted) dagger, comic books, and money vouchers for games. It was heavenly.

When I came to Montreal, I was very excited about the local scene. After participating in a few tournaments though, I realized no one was putting any money or effort into it besides the players. And more often than not, because we were all so poor, we hosted free tournaments with no entrance fee, because players already had to put cash in the arcade cabinets to be able to play.

My dreams of game stores hosting tournaments and giving us bigger prizes were pushed aside. It was up to us to put in the money, time, and effort to make things happen. Which we did, for nearly ten years. TekkenCanada became the hub for Canadian Tekken players, and we ran all the tournaments out of our houses or a cheap venue, used our own time, TVs, and consoles, and made things happen. The other fighting games communities were doing the same.

However, in recent years, sponsorships have become increasingly common. Companies like MadCatz, maker of highly prized fight sticks, often give away free gear to the winners of tournaments. Other local videogames companies do personal sponsorships, paying for the travel costs of local players in exchange for exposure.

And some, like my friends Hideyuki and Rosa at OmegaCollectables, do both. I can’t stress enough how cool they are, and if you want to buy videogames or gear online, go to their website.

Sponsorship

Last year, when I spent seven months in Toronto, I saw something amazing: the FGC was thriving. There were a ton of great players, tournaments were hosted weekly at awesome venues, and players were streaming events regularly.

People like my good friend NeoRussell and his organization TorontoTopTiers were putting their own money up to host tournaments, to sweeten the prize money, and just to give back to the community they love so much. I felt inspired to do the same, putting my money into the Tekken tournament prize in the big September tournament, which was won by NYCFab, a great New York player.

So.

Things have come full circle, and GutsyGeek is now in a position to sponsor local tournaments and players that are worthy. I’ve been running part of the community and loving it for years. I’ve made friends, and invested blood, sweat, and tears into keeping the scene alive. And now, my business is going to drop some money into it too.

This week, I contacted the organizer of Montreal Annual Tournament IX, Pierre Maalouf aka Crankypunk, and offered up GutsyGeek as a cash sponsor for this year’s event. Check out their page (and my logo!) here.

Additionally, until MAT IX happens on June 2nd, 50% of my earnings from any FGC member that signs up for my coaching will go back into sponsoring the tournament. Yep. Just mention it to me during our session, and boom! MAT IX gets more cash.

And seriously, if you’re a member of the FGC, show Pierre some love and help out in any way you can. MAT IX is going to be huge, they need all the help they can get.

What have you done for your local fighting games community lately?

And in case you haven’t already, sign up for my mailing list by using the right sidebar. You’ll be the first to receive my free ebook when it’s released.

I’m home.

I’ve been back here for 6 days now, and man it feels good to sleep in my bed again. I love travelling, and I’m all for running around the world visiting new places but, and I know some of you are going to give me shit for this, my favorite part of any extended trip is the return.

That first moment, when I set foot in my apartment, yell “Honey, I’m home!” to no one in particular, and laugh at my silly ritual, is priceless. Of course, it’s followed by my next move which is almost as good: using my own bathroom. Ah, the feeling of the toilet bowl on my pert buttocks as I read a comic book… but I digress.

The beauty of my most recent trip is it allowed me to enjoy my loved ones for much longer than I’m used to. Spending time with my family was wonderful: I got to see the people I love most in this world in their natural element, and really appreciate them on a different level.

When you see family once a year for two weeks, you just get the good stuff. Everyone’s on their best behavior, pleasant and calm. But when you spend nearly two months with them, the shiny veneer is removed, and you enjoy the beauty of spending time with who they really are. Sometimes we fight, sometimes we drive each other crazy, but most of the time we’re in harmony.

It’s great.

What did I miss?

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll have noticed by now that I have many, many different interests. I have a hilariously diverse skillset, that goes from playing the harp to making exceptional Thai food to being a pro gamer.

And first amongst all my interests is a two-way tie between meeting ladies and playing fighting games.

The irony is, neither of these things was available on my most recent trip.

That’s right geeks, I was stuck at home, on a couch in the Middle East, with no women for me to meet, and no one to play fighting games with. And I did it for nearly two months.

Madness!

To celebrate my return, I decided to do an excessive amount of both last week, which culminated in Japanese food, phone numbers, sex, jetlag, a ridiculous amount of hours playing Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, lots of tequila, the gym, a VHS tape on the sidewalk outside of a club, and possibly a midget.

Mario’s secret sex tape?

I’m back!

Let’s celebrate my return to my two loves with a good old-fashioned and short list, as I ease into my new working life.

As a geek that specializes in fighting games and meeting women, I realized there are a bunch of skills that are transferrable from one to the other.

Here are my top 6:

1. Fighting games require quick reactions
When you’re playing with an opponent and have less than a second to register their moves, you have to be fast to adapt. If you don’t, you die. When you’re talking to a lovely girl, and her friend is getting antsy to leave, you better react fast and get her number. Otherwise, missed opportunity.

2. Momentum is everything
You ever have one of those nights where you feel like the whole world loves you, and everything you say is met with grand laughter and fun? It’s a snowball effect, where you feel confident, which attracts people to you, which makes you feel more confident, which… you get the idea. Similarly, if you’re kicking ass at Tekken, you’ll rush your opponent down more, which will make you win more, which will make you rush more… know what I’m saying?

3. Safe play is the way to go
If you’re throwing out moves willy-nilly, you’ll probably get beaten by an opponent that knows your frame data.Example: if you do a Shoryuken that gets blocked, your opponent will punish you for it. In the real world, women aren’t your opponents, but STDs sure as fuck are, so give the minigeek a raincoat. If you wanna win, Play Safe (Protip: seriously, that means wear a condom. No one likes the herp-a-derp down there).

4. Women are awesome
Be it in fighting games or in real life, I love the ladies. My lover(s)? Awesome. Chun Li and Nina Williams? Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

5. Persistence is everyth… a close second to momentum
Not like harassment (“gimme your number” over and over again won’t work), but more like getting rejected and getting back on the horse. No one ever gets the girl or wins at a game without losing a lot. You power through that, and make it to the other side. Which leads to…

6. Practice makes perfect
The only way to get good at both fighting games and meeting women is practice (Protip: this applies to most areas of life. Except getting taller. I tried. Sorry). But not just any kind of practice: it needs to be deliberate. When something works, you write it down. When something doesn’t, you eliminate it from your game. Eventually, you’ll be both master of combos and female hearts.

Do you have any completely unrelated skills that help you meet women? Or skills with the ladies that help you in other areas of your life?

And in case you haven’t already, sign up for my mailing list by using the right sidebar. You’ll get some hilarious emails from me, and be the first to receive my free ebook when it’s released.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for me to comment on a hot topic that’s been floating around the gaming world lately.

I’ve been running TekkenCanada for 8 years. I’ve been heavily involved in the Fighting Games Community (FGC) since 1999, first in Europe, and now in Canada. I host weekly gatherings at my place, and I am the heart of the Tekken scene in Montreal. When I lived in Toronto, I showed up to as many tournaments as I could, and although I couldn’t be as active as some other members, like my good friend Neorussell, I pitched in to help whenever I had the time.

I’m also an avid follower of most large FGC events, either participating in and/or organizing the ones in Canada, and watching most of the ones in the USA. I’ve written 7 articles on why I love fighting games, the beauty of tournaments, and why the FGC has been my home for over 13 years.

And now my home is under attack.

Well, I won’t stand for that. Let’s talk.

Ready, Set, Trash Talk!

Trash talking is an integral part of the FGC. It’s fun, and 99% of the time, it’s completely harmless. We laugh, we joke about how one player sucks and another’s amazing, and we make fun of each other to create hype. In general, its purpose is to spice things up, and get rivalries going.

If two players have an upcoming tournament match, and they just show up and play, shake hands, demonstrate good sportsmanship and all, that’s interesting.

If those same two guys trash talk each other for weeks beforehand, hype up the rivalry, and build crazy drama, all of a sudden, the same match becomes riveting. Think of Mike Ross and Andre “Twisted Jago” Lambert’s recent rivalry.

That being said, trash talking should NEVER be taken seriously, and most of the time it isn’t. Mike and Andre are rivals, but they don’t hate each other.

The problem arises when you cross a line. It happens all the time, in the heat of the moment. I’ve done it before. I remember trash talking a new friend of mine, and bringing his mom into it. He paused the game, looked at me and said “whoa dude, no moms, that’s not cool.” I apologized, we unpaused the game, and I proceeded to insult his weak style of play. No harm, we talked, life goes on.

In the case of recent events, where a gamer crossed a line with a girl on stream, she didn’t bring it up. Why not?

I think, fellow gamers, that it may be our fault. I have a feeling that she felt, as a woman in the predominantly man’s world, she needed to suck it up and take it. Perhaps so that people in the ultracompetitive environment she was in didn’t see her as weak. Unfortunately, this happens a lot more than people assume it does.

The thing is, as a female, when you’re entering a male culture and community, you’re bound to get objectified. It sucks, but it’s truth.

However, as a woman, you must NEVER feel that you can’t fight back because of your gender. In fact, if you were to draw a line somewhere, most guys would listen, because FGC members are some of the nicest folk you will ever meet.

The Changes

I think there need to be some changes in our communities. Not in the way we treat people, but in the way we speak to them.

Female gamers shouldn’t be treated like porcelain dolls that can’t protect themselves, or they’ll never really be accepted as part of the community. They also need to learn to stand up for themselves, and be just as assertive as the male gamers.

But the only way that’ll happen is if we create a safe environment for them. And we do this by modifying our language around them. No “whore”, “bitch”, “slut”. No “I’d fuck her”, or “can I smell your panties”.

On the other hand, male gamers need to change the way they act around females. She’ll be your buddy, and training partner, and share a laugh when she beats you down. But she’ll also be a member of a minority in a community that’s filled with minorites, and as such, you shouldn’t call her on that. Just like you don’t call your black friend “my nigga”, just like you don’t call your gay friend a “fag”, don’t objectify her and think of her as “some dumb bitch.” She’s human dude.

More importantly, I resent the fact that some people believe trash talking has to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other negative thing. Mike Ross and Peter “Combofiend” Rosas, two of my all time favorite players, trash talk constantly, in a highly entertaining fashion. But they rarely use any of the above categories.

In fact, if you listen to Mike Ross talk, he never even swears. Ever. He doesn’t even say “goddamn”, replacing it with the child friendly “gosh darn”.

The Language We Use Is Important

“Gay is not an insult.”

I’ve been saying it for years. You hear a lot of geeks say “that game is gay”, “you’re so gay”, “this movie is gay”, meaning that it’s unenjoyable, or it sucks. I’ve never liked that language, and have constantly admonished friends of mine that used it. I mean, how would you like it if your sexual orientation was used as an insult? Or the color of your hair? Or skin?

Regardless, the expression caught fire in the geek world, and has become incredibly widespread. So is a lot of the other bad language used in the FGC. The community is full of racial minorities, and a lot of them use the word “nigga” when addressing each other. And perhaps to them it’s ok, but not to me. I’ve never enjoyed racial slurs as a way of addressing my friends.

In any case, my point here is that the large majority of these gamers use this language, in their minds, “harmlessly”. They’re not actually racist, or homophobic, or sexist, it’s just words. And I know it sounds paradoxical, but it’s true, they’re not bad people. And therein lies the problem.

The words you use are important. If you’re not a racist, don’t use racial slurs. If you’re not a sexist, don’t tell a woman to “go back to the kitchen”. And stop calling things that suck “gay”. People that don’t know you will naturally assume you are a hater of the things you insult.

If you’re a regular reader of my site, you know I’m very careful about the words I use to describe women. I never, ever say “bitches” (unless she’s actually a bitch), and will rarely use the expression “chicks”, because words are important. They’re representative of who you are.

In other words, watch your fucking language.

Why I Love The Fighting Games Community

The irony is this: although the language used in the FGC is pretty crass, and a little bit brutal, I can tell you right now that you will rarely find a community as kind, loveable, and caring as ours. We are constantly coming together to help each other out.

When Team Spooky’s computers and streaming equipment was taken by homeland security, the community rallied to get them cash to buy new gear.

When Chris Hu’s home burnt down and he lost everything, the community put together a fund to raise cash for him.

More personally, when I moved to Toronto from Montreal with 5 days’ notice, I called everyone I knew in that city for a place to stay. The only people that got back to me were members of my FGC. They also let me stay free of charge, for as long as I needed. That says a lot.

Bottom line is, I wrote this article because I am disappointed that people would claim the FGC is not an inclusive, open environment. Anyone that says this is the case has never been part of the FGC.

Do the haters know that our communities have almost no history of violence? Probably not.

Have they seen the age, racial, and class diversity present in our communities? In most North American FGCs, we have players from nearly every single religion and ethnicity you can think of. I myself am an anomaly, being the only Arabic Buddhist I know, and it’s never been a problem. In fact, for years the only community I was ever accepted in, and perhaps the only safe place for me to be myself, was in my local Montreal FGC.

If you walk into my house during a Saturday games gathering, you will meet players that are Arabic, Asian, Black, Caucasian, and Latino. There will be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims. There will be gay, straight, and bisexuals. And sometimes, there are girls.

We all come together to play games and have fun, regardless of age, sex, creed, class, money.

Because in the end, the only thing that matters is to us is how you play the game.

However, until we begin to show the outside world how much we care, they won’t believe us.

In a world where everything is recorded, tweeted, streamed, posted, and documented forever, we can’t afford to mess around. Words are everything.

Let’s use ours in a way that aptly describes who we are.

Like this.

If you liked this article, please take a minute to share it with your friends by hitting one of the share buttons, and leaving a comment below. Also, check out my friend Emily’s brilliant post on the same subject for a female gamer’s perspective.

Last week’s Thursday experiment was a rip-roaring success! I don’t know about you guys, but I had a blast reading all the haiku. I couldn’t respond to everything, as I was running errands around town all day, but every hour or so, I would check my phone and laugh at the new ones.

Good job folks! Everyone did an amazing job, and while I had no intention of declaring a winner, I award a special thanks to my buddy Leor for posting no fewer than EIGHT haiku!

And on that note, we try this week’s Thursday experiment: a funny list that started out as a joke…

What if…?

I was walking down the street with a friend.

“Man, you know what this outdoors business needs?” I ask.

“Better graphics?” he replies with a grin.

I pause for a moment.

“Sure. But also? Background music. ”

“You know what?” he says. “I was thinking the exact same thing!”

Man my friends are cool. We brainstormed a bit, and came up with the following (incomplete) list.

If real life were more like videogames, then there would be…

  • More background music, because headphones only get you so far. Seriously, this is a pretty big one. Imagine walking home from work with a relaxing beat in the background, except it’s coming from the sky! Plus it would change according to the situation, so a fight would involve dramatic music, and sex would bring up some Barry White.
  • Victory poses! Every time I made dinner, I would take a bite and make a victory face. Every time I peed, I’d do a victory hip thrust. And every time I got laid, I’d do a victory… nap, because some things don’t change.
  • Floating names above people’s heads. Man, that would be so convenient. I’d never have to worry about forgetting a name again. This would be especially useful in nightclubs or other really loud venues.
  • People standing still, repeating the same stories over and over again. Actually, this one is kind of like real life, so let’s move on.
  • Lots of powerups. Getting tired at work? Take a star, and power through your tasks! Cleaning windows on the 16th floor? Some boots of levitation will do the trick. Can’t get an erection? The pill of hardening saves the day. We already have 1/3 of these guys, so the others can’t be that far behind.
  • Resurrection! You’d be able to jump off a cliff to see what it would be like, then come back from the deadz.
  • People with severe ADD. You’d be able to shoot someone with an arrow, hide for a couple of minutes, and have them forget about you completely.
  • All enemies would have a glowing weak spot. Big bully hurting you at school? Just punch him on the glowing target in his back. Done! Boss driving you crazy? Hit the shiny crystal located under his foot, which you can do every third time he lifts his leg to take a step.
  • A cure-all heart. Neither disease nor poison can fight the power of a glowing heart that regenerates your health. Maybe you’ll finally try that blowfish you’ve been thinking about.
  • There would only be sixteen jobs, and occasionally combinations of those sixteen. Ever wanted to be an accountant/garbageman/cleric? With enough XP, now you can!
  • When fighting someone, you’d yell out the name of every move you did. Girly slap! Hide behind the table! Fall on opponent! Pee myself!

I’m sure there’s tons more stuff you guys can think of. Post up in the comments and tell me. The best one wins a wizard riding a unicorn on a rainbow in space!

Hey gang, today’s Thursday experiment is special, in that it’s going to last all the way until Monday. It’s a Haiku War!

The rules are simple:

1. I post a Haiku after the rules.

2. You respond in the comments section via Haiku.

3. You can post as many as you want, and insult anyone you want, as long as it’s in good fun, and in Haiku. Anything not Haiku will be deleted with extreme prejudice.

4. For those of you that don’t know, a Haiku is structured in 3 phrases, in the form of 5-7-5 “morae” (think syllables). So the first line is 5 morae, the second is 7 morae, and the third is 5 morae again.

It looks something like this:

You use syllables
That make a five seven five
That’s how you haiku

Get it? Great! Let’s get started!

My haiku to you:

To all my readers
Get off Youtube you mofos
And get back to work.

Are you just gonna take that from me, you pansies?

FLAME ON!

I’m really glad that Capcom has managed to make Super Street Fighter IV online a great experience. On good days, with my sexy internet connection, I can play with my buddies back home and not feel any lag at all. With cell phones, gchat, and skype, it’s almost like they’re right there.

My words don’t do it justice though, and so I made an explanatory diagram that I rendered using postmodernistical art from the future (click image for full-size version):

In case you haven’t already, follow me on Twitter! And like my page on Facebook! And subscribe to my RSS Feed! Every time you do, Baby Jesus plants a tree!

The weekend has passed. On this dreary, colorless Monday, I am reliving the constant awesomeness that took place over the last 48 hours.

The USA has EVO, one of the biggest fighting games tournaments in the world, attracting over a thousand participants and 2 million viewers each year. We in Canada have the Toronto Fighting Game Championships, known as the T Series, with T12 being this year’s iteration.

There were over 300 people packed into a crowded hotel banquet hall this weekend. We laughed, we cried, we cheered, we screamed, we played games and watched others play, we wished we had done better, we succeeded and did our best… we had fun.

The important thing to remember is this: whatever we did, we did together. There is no prouder moment in a gamer’s life than attending a giant event surrounded by like-minded people. It’s hard to explain to unGeeks just how alive gamers feel when we all congregate in one space at the same time.

The Magic Moment

You’ve been watching games all day. You’ve seen the downfall of greats, and the rise of new champions. You’ve been checking the brackets to see who you’re fighting, and trying to keep calm and not worry.

All of a sudden, it’s your turn. You have the controller in your hand. You pick your character, your opponent picks his. The level is chosen randomly. You shake hands, exchange a nervous look, and wish each other good luck. You wipe your sweaty palms on your pants, and mentally prepare yourself for the match.

The game begins. You’re feeling each other out. He maneuvers, you counter maneuver. He throws a couple of moves out, you do as well. Bam! You launch him, and combo out a large chunk of his lifebar. He’s feeling the pressure, and you’re confident, excited that you’re on the offensive. The combo ends, and you rush him some more. He’s blocking, trying to find a way out. You anticipate his strategy, and take him down. KO!

You’ve just won.

It was a 15 second round, but it felt like infinity. Each moment was extended as you lived it on the edge, riding a fine line between panic, tension, fear, exhilaration, excitement, and fun.

You were experiencing each moment as it happened, with no regard to past or future.

You were living in the now.

Then There Is Zen

People often say that geeks use games as an escape from reality. We’re losers in real life, so we play games to feel better about ourselves.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Gamers, especially when playing fighting games, live completely in the present. Like pro athletes, we focus and get into a zone where nothing else exists or matters. The only difference is that our battlegrounds are virtual.

When you’re playing against another player, you don’t have time to think about the future. One moment of hesitation could cost you the game.

You don’t have time to dwell on the past. The rounds you’ve lost are over, so learn from them and use that knowledge to win right now. The rounds you’ve won are also over, don’t let them make you cocky.

All that matters is the current round, the current movements of your opponent, your current strategy. All that matters is the present.

It’s almost like a meditative state. A state of Zen.

Get Hype!

Of course, the Zen can quickly fade as the crowd roars and chants for a victory. Because like any sporting event, competitive fighting games attract a huge following.

Famous players have fans on Twitter and Facebook, and their matches are often watched thousands of times on Youtube and JustinTV.

It’s often said that Wrestling is the young man’s soap opera. Similarly, Fighting Games Tournaments are the young geek’s soap opera. It’s no wonder that one of Japan’s biggest annual tournaments is actually called Super Battle Opera.

Think on this: your favorite player is Peter Rosas, aka Combofiend. He plays Marvel vs Capcom 3, and uses the team of She-Hulk/Taskmaster/Spencer. He is amazing, consistently placing in the top 8 of 100+man tournaments. He’s also a crowd favorite, wowing us with his technique, style, and smily demeanor.

When Combofiend shows up at a tournament, people expect him to do good. And when he doesn’t, especially if he gets beaten by an unknown, it’s a HUGE upset. When he got beaten in the MVC3 team tournament by RDK, a local Toronto player, the crowd went wild.

Similarly, MarlinPie is a MvC3 and Street Fighter player. He also places highly in tournaments, and is extremely well known in gaming circles. Yet Saturday, amidst the roar of the crowd, he got beat down at Street Fighter by my best friend Renato, aka Howling, in an insanely dramatic fashion.

Just like that, Renato went from a relative unknown to a pseudo-celebrity for the remainder of the event. In the annals of videogame history, he will forever be known as the guy that took out MarlinPie at T12.

From zero to hero, from underdog to top dog. How cool is that?

(NOTE: MarlinPie and Combofiend still took 1st and 2nd place respectively at MVC3, showing us yet again why they’re known as top players).

But fate is fickle, and the Gaming Gods can take fame away just as quickly as they bestow it. I was ranked #1 in Canada at Tekken for the last year. Yet I choked hard at T12, and on Sunday, in the space of 20 minutes, I lost to NYCFab and my friend Trevor back to back, putting me in 3rd place.

Rather than be bitter though, I’m proud of my friend for playing a kick ass game, and beating me soundly with his great skills. I’m also excited that Fab came all the way from New York to play us (and take our money), and is a very cool guy to boot.

Tournaments are nerve-wracking, palm-sweating, incredibly stressful events, and veritable rollercoasters of emotion. So why do we keep playing? Why do we go through all the stress, the hours of practice, the insane wait times, and the possible heartbreak associated with loss?

It’s simple.

For that one brief moment, when we’re in the spotlight, competing with someone for the right to continue in the tournament, we are gods.

And no one can ever take that away from us.

Special thanks to my friends NeoRussell, AzureFighting, Dafleks, DarkDeath, RXS, TorontoTopTiers, and whoever else I’ve missed, for running a goddamn fantastic event, and making T12 the most memorable Canadian tournament to date.