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The Educated Gentleperson's Fighting Game Primer Insert Credit - Patrick Miller

The Educated Gentleperson's Fighting Game Primer Insert Credit - Patrick Miller

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Published by neqkk
Insertcredit's Patrick Miller article about fighting games.

Original article at: http://insertcredit.com/2013/01/14/the-educated-gentlepersons-fighting-game-primer/
Insertcredit's Patrick Miller article about fighting games.

Original article at: http://insertcredit.com/2013/01/14/the-educated-gentlepersons-fighting-game-primer/

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Published by: neqkk on Feb 27, 2013
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1/16/13the educated gentlepersons fighting game primer | insert creditinsertcredit.com/2013/01/14/the-educated-gentlepersons-fighting-game-primer/#1/25
the educated gentleperson’s fighting gameprimer
Kid, I hear you got beaten up at school the other day. Got hit real bad, didn’t ya? Who were you fighting with? I bet he used Ken, didn’t he. There, there, son–calm down. It’s okay. That’swhat I’m here for.
Foreword: Why Fighting Games MatterIntroduction: Here Comes a New Challenger!Chapter Zero: On ExecutionChapter One: The Anatomy of a Fighting GameChapter Two: Ryu vs. Ryu (everything you need to know about fighting games)Chapter Three: Fleshing Out the Design SkeletonChapter Four: Intro to CombosChapter Five: Eleven Tips For Not Sucking At
Street Fighter 
Fighting games have long been dismissed by philistines as “button mashers”. This is, I reckon,because “speed-chess-poker-magic-the-gathering-rock-paper-scissors-fighting” is kind of amouthful, and frankly, most of the people who think fighting games consist of mindlessbutton-mashing never got deep enough into a fighting game to get to the speed-chess-poker-etc.part to begin with.You might be reading this simply because you want to learn how to become reasonablycompetent at a fighting game. That’s a pretty good reason! But I am calling this article “TheEducated Gentleperson’s Fighting Game Primer” because, well, I know plenty of EducatedGentlepeople who ought to learn more about fighting games, but don’t have a clue as to howto go about doing it.Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re probably big into videogames; maybe you’re a devotedenthusiast, maybe you’re a journalist, maybe you’re an academic or amateur scholar of somesort, maybe you even make your own videogames. If you are significantly invested in theproduction and consumption of videogames as a medium, on a personal or professional level,
you ought to know something about competitive fighting games as a matter of basicliteracy.
Learning how to beat another person in a fighting game involves understanding elements of game design, psychology, programming and basic machine input/output, human physiology,motivation, and several other serious bodies of human knowledge — and then applying themto go beat down your buddy’s virtual avatar. You must train yourself to understandcomplicated situations and react to them with complicated physical movements within fractions
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of a second. Perhaps most importantly, you must learn how to get better at something: How toabsorb good behaviors and discard bad ones, how to push yourself, how to practice, how todiagnose problems and fix them. I think it’s a good thing for people to do, period. Toparaphrase MMA legend Renzo Gracie, “Fighting [games] is actually the best thing a man canhave in his soul.”As a budding professional in the games industry (I edit a magazine), I can directly trace mycareer path (for which I am incredibly grateful) to my early love of fighting games. Studying
Street Fighter
felt like seeing the Matrix as ones and zeros for the first time. Now, I canunderstand that not everyone feels the same about
Street Fighter
as I do —
Street Fighter
eventually led me to pursue
fighting as another all-consuming hobby, so clearly I’m justkind of wired to like that kind of thing — but I maintain that a functional understanding of competitive fighting games is a worthwhile asset for any budding professional in the gamesindustry.The most fundamental thing that sets games apart from other artistic media — books, film,whatever — is that games demand a physical interaction between the text and the player.These days, we’re seeing games do all kinds of interesting things, from experimental narrativesto designs intended for wildly different control schemes to engines so powerful they accuratelymodel the way light works in real life. But amid all that, we’ve found it very challenging todevelop games that express sheer joy at the level of the physical input itself. Fighting games
you to be proficient at the physical aspect in order to enjoy them, and as such I thinkthey really do address the essence of the videogame as a medium.Moreover, the process of playing a fighting game against another person can essentially beconsidered “game design, in reverse”. Playing a fighting game means you’re studying a gamedown to individual pixels, animation frames, processor cycles, and its player (your opponent)down to behavioral patterns, tics, and state of mind — all in order to make the game
asmiserable as possible
 for the other person
. Your job is to take the tools the designers havegiven you — characters with moves — and turn the game into a sheer mess of broken partsthat no one ever wants to play again. “Look at what you’ve made, designer,” you say, “Doyou think this imbalanced, hackneyed crap is worth pouring my life into? Try again.” Youropponent is merely a canvas upon which you may paint with your brush of pain; the designerwho dared suggest that this game was worthy of your time is the audience. (Of course, youropponent is trying to do the same thing to
and somehow, both of you have a good oldtime and the game developers make some money.) Perhaps it’s not quite surprising whyestablished fighting game veterans seem to be breaking into the industry; all they’d have to doin the office is, well, the opposite of what they do in the arcade.So read this article. Maybe you’ll be bitten by the bug, maybe you won’t. If you’ve everwatched The Daigo Video and thought, “Man, I should learn how to play a fighting gamesometime,” congratulations: Now’s the time.
Introduction: Here Comes a New Challenger!
I am convinced that fighting games are one of the most interesting things going on invideogames, and that they have been for a long time. I get the impression that lots of otherpeople, smart people who often think a lot about videogames, think so too, but that they’reintimidated by the relatively high barrier to entry. Which is fair. I didn’t get my driver’s licenseuntil I was 26 because I was intimidated by the DMV, so, you know, priorities.Here is the thing: Fighting games are not actually that hard to learn how to play, and playsomewhat competently. But they’re very hard to
. Most of us battle-scarred veteranslearned how to play games by getting our asses beat for years before we even
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understand what we were doing wrong. That is not the way it
to be, mind you; just theway it is right now. Learning how to play fighting games by yourself (or with someone justabout equally clueless as you) is kind of learning how to
fight by yourself; that is,stupidly hard.What makes things even harder is that literally the vast majority of 
in a fighting game islocked away from you until you are able to physically and mentally perform at a certain level.
is one of the most physically taxing game franchises out there, but it’s comparativelyeasier to get people hooked with a taste of the actual
by teaching people differentopenings and game strategies and unit compositions, and
remind them that all thetheorizing isn’t worth jack shit if they can’t attain a minimum level of physical execution. With
Street Fighter
, it’s like you have to basically take it on faith that there is an amazing gameavailable to you after you spend years of your life training with the Wu-Tang Clan.What follows is my attempt to give you a crash course in fighting games. I’m writing thisbecause people frequently express to me the desire to learn how to play fighting games in thesame sense that people tell me they wish they had time to cook more often or work out; if Iwrite this, then I can just link it the next time you express this sentiment and save us both thetrouble. Luckily,
right now
is probably the easiest time in the world to learn how to playfighting games, so really, you have no excuse. I may not make you a champion, but if I canmake you literate, that’ll be enough.
Who I am:
I am not a professional player or coach, or a professional game designer oranything like that. Far from it, in fact. I’ve played fighting games seriously since about 2002 orso. I’ve taken my licks as a tournament competitor, but I’ve only won a crappy little
Third Strike
tournament at an anime convention at Cal State Northridge, and my prize was somecrappy
Street Fighter
anime DVDs (one of which I already owned). I’ve had the privilege of losing to some of the greats, but that’s about it. But I do think very seriously about the processof developing new skills — how to learn, how to practice, how to teach — whether thoseskills are aboutgamesormartial artsor whatever.
About this guide:
There are many ways to learn how to play fighting games. For me, I spentyears playing at theUC Berkeley BEARCade (RIP). My game of choice was
Capcom vs.SNK 2
, which, as an introduction to fighting games, is kind of like learning a language bymemorizing its dictionary and hoping for the best. As a fighting game, CVS2 is splendid. Oneof the best, really. But there is simply
too much stuff 
in it — too many characters, options,tools, etc. — which makes it very hard for a budding fighting game player to improve. If something isn’t working, a newbie’s first instinct is to think, “Well, I’ll change to one of theother 40-odd characters , or use a new ‘groove’ (a set of different design elements like airblocking, parries, rolls, different super meter management, and so on)”, when it really shouldbe something like “Hey, I should probably not jump so much.”As a result, I spent years messing around with CVS2 — and by “messing around”, I mean“playing a
” — without ever getting that much better. This one guy at the BEARCadenamed Eric (“Meaneric”) Choi would demolish me for free, and I never understood why hecould do that. It just seemed like he always had a dragon punch when he needed one, or athrow when he needed one. I must have spent a few hundred dollars trying to beat Eric. It tookyears before I beat him even once.One day at the BEARCade, we were running through our usual $1-entry weekly tournaments,and
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
needed one more person to have a full 8-man bracket. Ericwas the favorite to win, so he encouraged me to enter. “Okay,” I told him, “But you’ll have toshow me how to play, first.”“ Easy,” he said. “Just pick Original Sagat.”

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