Gaming

The conversation often goes like this.

“So what do you do for fun?”, she asks.

“Well, I’m a fighting game champ. I also run a fighting games community, and own the Canadian website for Tekken (it’s a fighting game).”

“Oh, that’s pretty cool!”, she exclaims.

“Why thank you,” I reply.

“It’s weird though, you don’t LOOK like a huge gamer. I thought most gamers were overweight and gross.”

Huh.

I wonder where she got that stereotype from?

Fighting Games Are Social

People are always surprised when I explain that each major city has a fighting games community.

“Aren’t gamers antisocial?”, they ask. “Don’t they just play online from their parents’ basement?”

Short answer? No.

What they don’t realize is fighting games are much more social than other types of games, like first person shooters or RPGs. To play a fighting game efficiently, you need to be in the same room as your opponent (there’s too much lag online). Except for the Japanese style arcade setups, the players are also forced to share a screen, effectively meaning they need to sit next to each other. And if you want to have some proper fun, you’ll have several guys in the room waiting for their turn. It’s kinda hard to be antisocial when you have 5 guys sitting in your living room.

Fighting games are played one on one, with two players going head to head for the grand title of Winner. In a room full of players, you’re also playing for the right to keep playing. If you lose, you give up your spot, and become a spectator. If you win, your opponent spectates, and the next person in the rotation jumps in. Most games also have a counter that keeps track of how many wins you have in a row.

This adds more social pressure to the games, and more excitement. If Rami and Adam are playing Street Fighter, no big deal. But if Adam has 26 wins, then everyone is rooting for Rami, and the pressure is on. It also gives Adam the right to trash talk everyone in the room, and to laugh at them for being unable to dethrone him.

It’s like a spectator sport, except the spectators can actually participate as well. I like to compare it to Ping Pong.

Fighting Games Are Community Based

The key word associated with fighting games is community. Players belong to something, and recognize others who are a part of it.

Fighting games are also based on gatherings. A gathering is just a simple way of saying “getting together at someone’s house for X”. It makes it easier to invite everyone too. A typical invite looks like this:

“Hey guys, we’re having a gathering at my house. Show up at noon, someone bring a console and an extra copy of Marvel vs Capcom 3.”

Gamers spend lots of time with each other, especially in communities that have gatherings every week. There’s great amounts of socialization in these communities, which leads to many learned behaviors.

For example, people in the Tekken scene have to be honest, because if you fuck someone over, everyone that plays the game knows about it. We had an incident wherein someone stole a discman from Adam’s house. We banned him, and never played with or hung out with him again. It’s pretty brutal when your whole social circle brands you a thief.

Similarly, when you go to a new city, most Tekken players would be willing to host you, solely on the basis of you being part of the Tekken scene. It’s like a social club, only instead of being based on wealth or some weird cult like the Raelians, whether or not you participate in this game is the determining factor.

When I moved to Toronto in June, I was hosted by my buddy Jon, who is a Tekken player. He let me stay at his place for nearly a month while I looked for a place. Not many friends would do that. When Renato moved to Montreal from Brazil, he didn’t know anyone, just like me when I first moved to Canada. But he and Matt had been conversing on the King forums of Tekkenzaibatsu, so Matt invited him to a gathering at my house, and that’s how we met. Renato is now one of my best friends.

Gamers also learn each others’ slang. If I were to tell you “that guy is salty”, and you weren’t a fighting gamer, you’d probably wonder if I licked his skin. Other gamers would know I mean he’s “upset at having lost”, or even a “sore loser” depending on the context.

Finally, fighting gamers love to shit talk. In fact, we even have a specific Shit Talking section on our forums at TekkenCanada. But that’s an article for another day.

Fighting Games Are Accessible

If you’re not involved in any kind of fighting game community, then the word EVO probably doesn’t mean shit to you. To us though, it’s the holy grail of fighting tournaments. It’s the one time of year when gamers from all over get together for one weekend to play Fighting Games at the highest competitive level.

It’s akin to our Super Bowl, only on a much smaller scale. Where the Super Bowl draws an average of 100 million viewers, EVO gets about 2 million. The biggest difference is that you can’t just show up and participate in the Super Bowl. However, if you have the time to get down to Las Vegas for a weekend, and can spare an extra 40 bucks, you too can be part of EVO.

That’s the beauty of fighting games, and what sets it apart from other traditional spectator sports. Anyone can pick up a controller and join in. They’ll probably suck, and get beat down pretty badly, but they have the right to try. Plus, the only way you can actually get better at these games is by playing against opponents that are on a higher level than you.

So, if you’re a gamer, and you’re interested in fighting games, get in touch with your local community. Google the name of the game you want to play, and the city you’re in, and see what comes up. I guarantee you’ll find some players that want to hang out and teach you the basics.

If you’re in Canada and play Tekken, check out TekkenCanada. We’d love to meet you. Who knows, maybe you and I will be good friends in the near future.

Hey gang! This is a multi-part series about my love of fighting games. It covers my humble beginnings as a child, my obsession as a teenager, and how I became the Canadian champion as an adult. Go here to read Part 1, then go here for Part 2, and come back when you’re done for Part 3. It ends on a cliffhanger again, so subscribe to my RSS feed or Twitter account to get updated when I publish Part 4 (someday).

It’s the summer of 2002, and I’ve just moved to Montreal, Canada from France. I have left my life behind for the second time, and at this point am kind of tired of rebuilding. Think about it: I moved to France when I was 15, and took a couple of years to make close friends that I cared about and that accepted me. Then halfway through my 18th year, I left it all behind to start again.

The problem was, this time I didn’t have high school to make friends in. I wasn’ t in the same classroom, with the same people, every day of the week. Instead, I was at university, and as we all know, North American universities have different classes with different people in them every day.

It was really hard to create a connection with people that I saw 1 hour at a time, twice a week. More importantly, I was fed up with having to make new friends all the time. So I did the only thing I knew: I went to my local arcade.

It was called Pinnochio’s, and it had only one Tekken machine: the dreaded, evil Tekken 4. Let’s take a moment to talk about that game.

Why Tekken 4 Sucks

For those of you that don’t know, Tekken 4 is sort of the black sheep of the Tekken family. It was innovative in that it introduced a couple of brand new elements to the Tekken series. For the first time, stages had walls that limited the space available, and also made wall combos possible. Certain stages also had terrain that players could maneuver around, such as pillars and slopes. Gameplay-wise, the left grab was replaced with a push, which you could use to push/pull your opponent to where you wanted him. Just-Frames were also introduced, requiring very precise timing to get the moves you wanted to come out.

Unfortunately, the game was built with a few huge flaws, which weren’t so apparent at first glance. The walls and strange levels made infinite combos possible for certain characters, a gross abberration in the Tekken series. The character balance was off as well. Certain members of the cast, such as Jin and Steve, were incredibly overpowered, rendering many matchups completely useless and no fun at all.

Perhaps worst of all, the character movement, ie sidestep and backdash, were grossly nerfed. For a series that became famous thanks to its revolutionary movement, which was kicked off 5 years earlier by Tekken 3, killing the characters’ ability to maneuver was a big mistake. And to compound it all, the strongest members of the cast were given jabs that moved them forwards, effectively meaning you could 1,2 your way to victory, and your opponent couldn’t get out of it.

Finally, the game was glitchy as fuck. Check the video below for some hilarity.

Videogames Brought Me Friends

Back to me. I went to Pino’s, and began playing Tekken 4, which I sucked at. Thankfully, as with my situation in Geneva, I went often enough that I got better at the game. I began to see some regular players show up at the arcades, and although they weren’t as talkative with me as they were with each other, I still had lots of fun playing with them.

They sort of had an arcade etiquette, which I soon learned. If someone put a coin on the machine, they got the next game. When you’re beating someone down hard, and they haven’t won a round yet, give them a mercy round, because they’re paying, and it sucks to lose three straight really fast. Finally, if your opponent doesn’t know how to beat what you’re doing, tell him. It’s the only way to get them to improve, and it’ll also help you get better, because you’ll learn to counter their counter.

I got used to playing with them, and having a good time at the arcade, but I was still missing some real friends. I went on Tekkenzaibatsu, and looked for players in the Montreal area. Sure enough, some people responsed and I met up with them at the arcade.

After a couple of games, they realized I was pretty good, and one of them, Shyft aka Adam, invited me back to his house. We all took the bus about to his place, and started playing on his PS2. I shocked them all by talking shit like a psycho.

“Oh yea my little bitches, can you handle all my low kicks, look how much damage I’m doing to you. You like it, YOU LIKE IT! God I’m so amazing, I’m gonna beat you all down and make you cry. Did you like that, whore?”

After tolerating me for a little while, Adam said “Dude, stop talking all this shit. We don’t do that around here.” I was terribly embarassed, and shut my mouth. Thankfully, they didn’t take it personally (and over the years, they learned to shit talk as well. But I’ll talk about that in Part 4). We all had a great time, and Adam and I became fast friends. I hung out at his house every weekend after that. I would show up on Friday night, and we would play games, eat junk food, smoke and drink all the way through to Sunday afternoon.

It was magic. Through Adam, I got introduced to the other members of the community. Al_X, QCPrince, SmokingDevil, Trevor, Jim, Joey, Biggs and many others all became my friends. We would all get together, at someone’s house or the arcade, play games and have fun.

It took a while, but once again, thanks to fighting games, especially Tekken, I made some real friends. I still see most of them to this day, although some have moved on from games to other pursuits.

And Adam? Saying he’s my friend would be wrong. At this point, 9 years later, we are brothers. He took me to my first rave, taught me about life in Canada, helped me become more social. We went to tournaments together, partied together, lived together, and travelled to Tokyo together. He was the first friend I made in Montreal, and to this day has never let me down.

Who knew fighting games could bring people together in such a way? But then again, things in Canada were only just beginning.

Continue To Part 4

Hey gang! This is a multi-part series about my love of fighting games. It covers my humble beginnings as a child, my obsession as a teenager, and how I became the Canadian champion as an adult. Go here to read Part 1, and come back when you’re done for Part 2. It ends on a cliffhanger again, so subscribe to my RSS feed or Twitter page to get updated when I publish Part 3 in a couple of days.

I’ll always remember the first time I played Virtua Fighter.

It was at Taco Maker, our local Arabic Taco Bell ripoff in Bahrain. I was 11 years old.

When Virtua Fighter first appeared, all I did was beg to go to the arcade and play it. After all, it was a 3D game, and super advanced compared to everything else (*cough* Street Fighter II *cough*). I mean, look at the characters: they were just so real and lifelike!

I used to beg my parents to take me, and once a week, my father and sister and I would go there to get some junk food. I’d spend a small fortune, between 3 and 4 dollars, on this game, and just throw my money away on how awesome it was.

I was enthralled. When it finally came out on console, for the mythical Sega Saturn, I was drooling with excitement. And when my older brother took a business trip to the UK, promising me a Sega Saturn when he got back, I prayed to the bearded god and baby jesus that he would fulfill his promise.

Late at night, I would stay up and beg. “Dear God, I swear I’ll be good, I’ll do my homework, I’ll make my mom proud, please… just please… let my older brother remember to buy a Sega Saturn for me when he comes back.” Then I’d feel guilty, and pause for a second, before adding: “Also, world peace. And a barbie for my little sister.”

Satisfied, and sure in the knowledge that the bearded god from heaven wouldn’t let me down, I would sleep.

It was therefore quite grim when my brother showed up a week later. I could barely contain my excitement, and ran at him as he walked into the kitchen.

“Didja get a Sega Saturn? Did you? You didn’t! Or did you? TELL ME!”

He paused then, and I’ll always remember what happened next.

“No, I didn’t get a Saturn. I got something better”, he said, grinning mischievously from ear to ear.

I was in shock. I think I got a little dizzy too, and possibly short of breath. What the hell kind of drugs was my brother on? There was obviously nothing better than a Sega Saturn. He must not have had enough money to get one. My heart sank. I took a deep breath, and prepared myself for the inevitable doom that was approaching.

“What’s better than a Sega Saturn?” I asked.

“A Sony Playstation!” he replied, and with a flourish, pulled one out of the bag he was carrying.

Huh.

Alright, well, I got the knockoff console. But at least I got a console. My NES was getting kind of old at this point. Then a sudden thought struck me: Virtua Fighter was only for Sega Saturn! What the hell was I going to play now? There was no realistic, lifelike, awesome three dimensional fighting game on Playstation. Or was there?

“What about Virtua Fighter?” I asked him, clutching the console box to my body.

“Sony has one too! It’s called Tekken.”

Tekken?! What kind of shitty name is that?

Sigh.

“I guess it’s better than nothing”, I told myself.

And so began the greatest love story of my life.

I ♥ Tekken

We’ve already covered how videogames saved my life. I’m going to delve a little deeper into the how and why concerning a particular game: TEKKEN!

In 1996, my brother changed everything by showing up at our house with a Playstation and Tekken 2. It became my new favorite pasttime. I would sit there and practice moves and combos for hours. Each character had a ten-hit string that I memorized, because I thought it was awesome. King, the wrestling character, had an insane chain throw where if you grabbed the opponent once and did the proper inputs, the match was over. I spent hours, days, learning how to do them.

I quickly surpassed my older brothers (goddamn scrubs), and made them not want to play against me. I then beat down all my friends, and they too quit. Soon it was just me and Tekken 3, having a fun time. I was the king of everything awesome. Then I moved to France.

It was a trying time. I was 15 years old, and had no friends. I hated the long hours at school, the crappy weather, and the odd people that didn’t accept me. I couldn’t deal with my situation at home, living in close quarters with my mother, sister and cousins. So I did the only thing I knew how to do, as a teenager: I escaped, every chance I got.

I lived right on the border of Geneva, and every Saturday I would take my allowance and catch the tram into downtown. I would go to Rue du Marché, Geneva’s most prestigious shopping and touristy area, and go down a side street to hang out at the arcade.

All this travel time, just to play Tekken Tag Tournament. After all, Tekken hadn’t let me down yet.

The Beginning of Real Competition

Every week I would play there, and get to know the other players. Every week we would fight each other, and laugh, and talk Tekken. And every week, I felt like I belonged to something. To this day, I can still remember many of their faces, although not their names. There was the chubby King/Devil player, the skinny and freaky looking Mishima player with crooked teeth, and the Lei/Bruce guy with the dreads and the calm and slow way of enunciating his words.

They were all amazing, and I looked up to them. After all, they were better than I was, and the only way I was going to improve was by challenging the best. They taught me the basics about combos, tag slides, tag dives, and managing two characters’ lifebars. There was more to this game than just doing random moves, and I slowly realized something important: Tekken was full of strategy.

I regularly visited TekkenZaibatsu, the global Tekken website, to watch videos and learn strategies for characters. Keep in mind that this was 1999-2000, there wasn’t anything like Youtube available, and bandwidth was incredibly expensive. As such, subscribers had access to all the videos, but poor teenagers like me only got to see the match of the week. I would watch those matches, dissect and analyze each movement over and over again, like a freaky little mad scientist, all in the hopes of going back to the arcade and showing those guys that I was good.

If only I had put that same effort into my academic life, I might not have nearly failed highschool.

Eventually, I ended up getting good at the game, thanks in part to my friend Olivier. He was, like me, sort of an outcast at school in our first year. We bonded over our love of fighting games, and started playing lots of Tekken together. Any chance we got, we would ditch class and run over to his sister’s house. We would eat a quick snack, and then play as much as we could, sometimes as short as half an hour of matches. Then we’d run back to class, and get berated for being late.

He showed me my first frame trap with the Mishimas. Most modern Tekken players would laugh at it now, but at the time, it was incredibly advanced. It was simple: 1,1 on block, then 1, 1 again. If it hit, press 2. If it didn’t, mix up another 1, 1 with a grab.

I was in awe. I slowly began to understand how to create my own frame traps. Do a move that gives me some advantage and gets my opponent to react, then do another move to counter whatever he throws at me. Incredible, and so much creativity ensued. I built all kinds of frame traps, setups and combos for my characters. I also built 5 different teams, because of all the options the Tag system gave me.

Armed with my new knowledge, I started winning at the arcade. I became known as the Baek/Hwoarang player, the only one who could take down anyone with the Taekwondo team. People were in awe of my execution, because I never missed a cancel with Baek, or a combo with Hwoarang. I was respected in the scene.

Finally, in a foreign country, in a new high school, in a world where I didn’t feel at home, I found acceptance in a place where people judged me for something other than my looks, personality, and intelligence: the arcade.

There was only one thing that mattered there: my skill at Tekken.

And so, three glorious years went by. I eventually made great friends at high school, people that I still see to this day whenever I visit family in France. I also had a girlfriend, fell in love, broke up, was sad, partied a lot, smoked, drank, and did all the things that high school students do, all the while knowing that Tekken had my back.

Then I graduated, and moved to Canada.

Continue to part 3

Hey gang! This is the beginning of a multi-part series about my love of fighting games. It covers my humble beginnings as a child, my obsession as a teenager, and how I became the Canadian champion as an adult. It ends on a cliffhanger though, so subscribe to my RSS feed or Twitter page to get updated when I publish Part 2 in a couple of days.

So Evo2k11 just came and went. For those of you that don’t know, Evo is the biggest fighting games tournament in North America, and quite possibly the coolest and most hyped up sporting event I’ve ever seen. I had the stream playing on my TV all weekend, even when I was doing other things, just because I wanted to keep track of how the action was going.

Thanks to the modern streaming technology, and devoted followers, Evo hit 1.1 million viewers this year, proving that e-sports are very much alive, and slowly turning into a viable alternative to other sporting events.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Secret Origin of GutsyGeek

I’ll always remember the first time I played Street Fighter II (SFII for short).

Until 1991, the only beat’em up style games I played with my friends were the co-op kind, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, Final Fight, Golden Axe, and the legendary Double Dragon.

Those games were all about us teaming up against the bad guys, and fighting our way through levels to get to the big bosses. They were exceptionally fun, demanding good positioning and tactics from the players, as well as lots of cooperation.

And then Street Fighter II arrived. It pitted gamer against gamer in a beautiful fight to the death. No longer were my friends and I cooperating. Instead, we were vying for victory and first place. Our goal was to defeat all challengers and retain the most important thing of all in a room of several gamers: control of the arcade cabinet.

SFII was revolutionary in many ways. Each character was fully unique, from their looks to their walking animation to their normal/special moves.  Each fighter came from a different country, and had his own backstory, explaining their reasons for fighting in the tournament. Oh, and there were Hadokens (fireballs), Shoryukens (dragon punches), and Yoga galore.

The Game Centers

SFII hit the arcades like a magnificent beast in 1993, overshadowing and destroying all other games to take the number one slot in kids’ hearts. I was 7 at the time, and living in Bahrain, which meant I was at the cutting edge of technology.

See, Bahrain’s proximity to Japan, as well as the country’s lack of copyright laws in the 90’s meant we would get all of the latest videogames in the arcades as soon as they were released in Asia. And SFII was the shit. There was nothing like it anywhere, and everyone wanted to get a piece of the action.

I used to dream about going to Jasmis, our local fast food slash McDonald’s ripoff, because they had a huge arcade with TWO SFII machines. I would get on that cabinet and just play for hours and hours, and when I ran out of money, I would stick around and watch other people play because of how good and entertaining the game was. A premonition to the modern e-sports phenomenon? Probably.

When the game finally came out on console, my friends and I would split our time between swimming and SFII. We even began playing the 1 player mode, to finish the game and see each character’s storyline ending. We also gave the characters personality traits. Whenever we beat Ken the first round, he would invariably take the second one right after.

“He’s angry!”, we’d say.

The truth of the matter was, the AI was programmed to increase the difficulty if you beat Ken the first round. But hey, we were kids, what did we know?

Capcom thankfully realized how great the game was, and decided to release new versions and keep the hype going. Just when I was getting bored of SFII, the SFII: Champion Edition was released, finally allowing us to play the 4 boss characters that had plagued and taunted us for years. This was followed by SFII: Hyper Fighting, which gave each character new moves to balance out the fights, and Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, which added another 4 characters to the game, bringing the total roster to 16.

There were other versions of course, including many pirated ones that I loved (my favorite being Link Edition, where Ryu threw two fireballs that moved  up and down the screen), and the magical Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which added super bars and a hidden character.

But by then things didn’t matter anymore. It was 1994, and the 3D fighting revolution had arrived.

Continue to part 2

 

When I was child, I used to get sick. A lot. My mom used to tell me it was because of my asthma. I remember catching colds and flus all the time. At least once a month, I would find myself at home, on my back, wheezing. It was kinda hard to have fun when breathing was a chore.

There’s a certain sadness that come with asthma. More than anything, I wanted to join the other kids and play, but I couldn’t. Not because of permission, but rather because I was often out of breath within minutes. So I did what all kids do when they’re stuck indoors: I read, played board games, and watched TV. While other kids were at school and healthy, I was sick at home, doing solitary stuff.

Then someone bought me a NES, and my life was changed forever.

The Strongest Plumber in the World

As a child, I was short. But when I playedMarioBros Super Mario Bros., I was a plumber with awesome overalls that grew as tall as I wanted to.

As a child, I was weak. but when I played Wizards and Warriors, I was a sword wielding knight out to save the princess.

As a child, I was afraid of violence. But when I played Double Dragon, I was a badass motherfucker that could kill anyone with a jumping tornado kick.

As a child, I was a child. But when I turned on my NES, I was whoever I wanted to be. And it was beautiful.

Sure, I could watch a movie or read a book, and imagine I was the hero. I loved doing that too. The difference is that when I played a game, I actually was the hero. His destiny depended on my ability to control him, which meant if I failed, he failed. I’ve always found that to be a little more transformative than reading a comic or watching TV, because it’s more active than passive. It also teaches you many skills. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Two can play at that game

Slowly but surely, I played more and more games. Different genres, different consoles, different strategies, and different people too. With the rise of multiplayer games, I also became more competitive.

Although I couldn’t excel at sports, I began to excel at videogames. Mario Kart, Tekken, Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros, these were the fighting grounds on which my opponents and I competed. I worked hard to get good, to figure out different strategies, and to destroy my opponents. I won a prize in my first fighting games tournament at 16, at a local Tekken Tag Tournament event.

Videogames also became my way of socializing. Where jocks would get together and talk about last night’s football match, I would get together with my buddies and talk about the new CounterStrike maps. All of my male friends were gamers, and if they weren’t, they became gamers around me.

A brave new world

Suddenly, I was 18. I was an adult, and thrust into the world of manhood. I moved to Canada, and went to university. I remember those first few months here were damn rough. I had no friends, couldn’t relate to the people in my classes, and was sick of hanging out at home. My brother, great human being that he was, always tried to include me in his social life, and I appreciated it. But he and his friends weren’t really hardcore gamers, and I yearned for my own kind.

So I went to the local arcade.

I went often, and began playing games with the regulars that went there. We would recognize each other, and shake hands before matches. We would laugh, and talk about the victories and defeats, and just have a blast.

And so it happened that nearly nine years ago, I made friends with 7 people at the local arcade while playing Tekken, a 3d fighting game. I am still in contact with 6 of them to this day, and count them as some of my closest friends (and people have the gall to say gamers are antisocial. YEESH!).

Not only did I play games with these people, but we partied together, went on road trips, hung out, and socialized. They are my friends, my crew, my rivals, and my family. And it all began with a fighting game.

The measure of a man

So games helped me go from a sick kid with no real power, to a regular dude with many friends. They allowed me to excel in a virtual world where physical prowess didn’t matter. As I got older, and more physically able, games were my sport, my drive, and my socializing tool.

Today, well, games are still a big part of my life. I run the Canadian community for Tekken, and I meet up with my buddies at least once a week to play. I also play other fighting games, and own two of the three latest videogames consoles.

Finally, and most importantly, I still use videogames as a measuring tool for an important part of my life: women.

I have two simple rules that I follow religiously.

1. If a woman walks into my apartment, and doesn’t like this wall, then I immediately lose interest.

Got these at ThinkGeek. Click to check it out.

It’s not so much about whether or not she loves the game Asteroids, but more about her acceptance of videogames in my life. If she can’t, then she’s not for me. I’m always going to be a gamer, after all.

2. If I want to play videogames MORE than hang out with my latest girl, she’s gotta go. I mean, there must be something wrong with her if I choose games over sex, right? Conversely, if she beats games, she’s a keeper. Hint: for all you prospective ladies out there, it’s REALLY NOT HARD to beat games in terms of a man’s interest.

How have videogames influenced your life? Have you ever made friends over a certain game? Tell me!

I’ll keep this short. I recently had a conversation with someone who sincerely believes that videogames are the source of all evil. I obviously disagree. Being that this is geek month, I have decided to stand up for my fellow gamers, and post two videogames related articles this week. Be sure to check back on Thursday for the other one!

A short list of Special Moves I learned from videogames:

1. Perseverance. If you grew up in the Nintendo generation, you know one thing about old games: they are damn hard. And I’m not talking “replay the same level once or twice hard”. I’m talking bang my head against the wall, break a couple of controllers, scream at the screen in frustration, pull out my hair, want to die, cry myself to sleep, eat a brain for breakfast hard.

This led to me developing one important skill that would serve me continuously throughout my life: the ability to plow forward in the face of adversity. If I gave up every time I got to a difficult level, I’d never have gotten past the beginning of most NES games. This also applies to life. I have yet to meet a problem I can’t overcome by gritting my teeth and persevering. The thing is, that’s not enough to win a game. You also need…

2. Lateral thinking. NES games were damn obscure with their clues. Anyone who’s ever played Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link will agree that the Error puzzle was just retarded. So, to figure things out, I was always required to think outside the box and use a little bit of creativity. When you’re coding, scriptwriting, or even arguing a case, having the ability to reframe problems and work at them from different angles is pure magic.

3. Increased Memory for Detail. If you don’t remember where the door with the demon head was, how are you supposed to figure out where the skeleton key goes? I definitely use this skill to remember important things like CSS code, qualitative methods theory, and where I left my wallet.

4. Fast learning. Perhaps the most important skill required to be a great gamer is the ability to constantly learn new patterns, concepts, and ways of thinking. Also, to do it fast. When you’re playing the final boss in Contra, you’ve only got 3 lives and a couple of seconds to figure out which way he moves, shoots, and reacts. If you don’t, you’re dead. This ability is responsible for my plethora of random skills, from playing the harp to cooking thai food. It also led to me becoming quite the multipotentialite.

5. Lightning reflexes. This one is easy. The first time you fight Vega in Street Fighter II, you’re gonna get schooled. The only way to beat that fucker is to develop fast enough reflexes to Shoryuken him every time he jumps off the wall towards you. For those of you not familiar with the shoryuken, please read the following instructions carefully:

Courtesy of James Kim. Check out his site, it's pure magic.

In the real world, this helps my razor-sharp wit, as well as my ability to catch a falling glass before it hits the ground :D. More importantly, it taught me how to be quick on my feet, especially under pressure.

So what am I trying to say?

Play some videogames! And then, subconsciously, learn from them, use them, and become a better person, just like me.

How have videogames influenced your life in a positive way? Leave a comment and tell me!