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Over the last several months. I’ve made a joke about “retiring” from fighting games. I’ve done this mostly facetiously. But deep down inside I’ve been losing my passion for this. And over the past few months I’ve gotten to the point where I need to let some stuff out. Maybe by the end of this I’ll feel better, maybe I’ll say what I really want to say if I’m not.
As many of you might remember, I talked in a previous entry here about when I quit about a decade ago. And how I came back. If you didn’t read it, let me surmise it quickly. I quit until I got brought back. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Three years is a good hiatus. Today in 2019, I have a few different feelings that I’d like to share. Now I want to start by saying this doesn’t “undo” any of the things I said previously. Quit if you must, take a breather, follow my advice. This isn’t really an advice column. This is more just personal experiences I want to share and maybe, just maybe you’ll understand why I’m in the mindset I’m in of wanting to call it quits. There were a number of things that brought me to this moment.
1. EVO and SCR.
While EVO and SCR were fun for everything outside of fighting games (spending time with the lot of you all, getting to get out of Seattle for a while, In-N-Out Burger, etc.) The actual “Fighting Games” part was miserable. I went 0–2 at both tournaments and played badly, and most importantly I didn’t feel like I was learning anything. EVO was stressful and SCR didn’t go much better. And the entirety of my tournament career can be summed up in the following scenario. Now I don’t want to name my opponent because of the nature of this story and I don’t want to make it sound like “Secret Discord Tech To Beat X” or whatever but hear me out. My first opponent at SCR was an Alisa player. Prior to the match one of our crew at SCR told me about a certain tendency that they like to do. Primarily Alisa’s D3 into her mid kick. I was told that if I see the slide coming, the mid was probably coming next. And sure enough, they were right. And I blocked it almost immediately at the start of the match. I felt pretty good for about five seconds before I ended up getting destroyed by every single other one of Alisa’s moves. This is pretty much my experience with Tekken. It’s cool that you learned this one thing. But the truth is that, there’s like 1,000,000 other things you also need to remember. Now, I’m not saying I’m an idiot. But I’m saying you can’t be an idiot and be good at Tekken. And I just don’t think I have the mental ability to remember all these things. This leads me to my second point.
2. Not Being Able To Understand The Game
Someone once asked me what learning a fighting game is like. And I think I’ve finally come up with after all these years the perfect analogy. There’s a lot of talk about “flowcharts” in fighting games. But really, Tekken is like a spreadsheet. Learning how to punish things in particular and filling in the blanks in a spreadsheet with the proper reaction to a certain move.
This may seem easy to some, but the truth is, I don’t have the ability to even remember every single move in my own arsenal that’s unsafe, I could never do it for every character in the game. Some people can do it. A lot of people are smarter than me. So this doesn’t surprise me that almost every single person I know can do this better. My spreadsheet has a lot of blank spaces. And whenever I might fill in one of those spaces, I seem to forget other things. This is a frustrating feeling and I don’t like it. This is really the first realization that maybe fighting games weren’t for me anymore. I understand Tekken is complicated, but this seems to be happening in every fighting game I play.
It’s not just things like punishing or if a move beats another move. Basic things like combos are difficult for me to figure out. I’m so bad at figuring this stuff out that I can’t figure out how to do larger amounts of damage in combos unless I specifically learn from a resource how to do something a specific way. It’s not something I understand. Like yeah. Maybe I can punish a hellsweep with Matterhorn and get the full combo maybe once every 20 times. But it’s the other 19 times that annoy me, and it’s the 100 other moves I get destroyed by that makes me feel I’m not really learning anything. I dunno. Maybe I have a learning disability or something. I feel stupider and stupider every time I play this stupid game. Allow me to explain my frustrations using a simple infographic.
3. Other Tournaments
I don’t get nervous at local tournaments the way I do at majors. Because I realize nobody is watching. So who cares if I do badly. Even at the most recent tournament I went 0–2 at, I played two people who I knew were better than me and I played them pretty tough even though I didn’t win a game. But eventually, I kinda just get tired of losing. And I get tired of feeling like I’m not getting better. A lot of people say that going to tournaments is how you get better. Maybe. If it is, I’ve yet to see it. I don’t think I’ve learned a single thing by going to local tournaments other than just how many people are better than me at fighting games.
4. Personal Shit
Allow me in the last two years to explain what I have experienced.
Aug 2017: One of my closest friends dies at the age of 23.(You may have noticed I disappeared for a few months. That’s why)
Jan 2018: Horrible breakup. I was pretty desolate at about this point and I’m not afraid to admit I contemplated suicide.
Mar 2018: Potential lawsuit brought against me. (This suit was later dropped as I thought it would but it didn’t help matters)
May 2018: Someone close to me has daughter that dies at age of 9
June 2018: Two close friends go through divorce. (This bothered me more than I’d like to admit)
Sept 2018: Friend I’ve known since I was 4 dies literally the weekend before I’m supposed to go to SCR. I almost didn’t go but I was informed I couldn’t get my money back for my ticket so I said fuck it.
Jan 2019: Am informed someone very close to me has a brain tumor. Needs chemotherapy. Also will result in bill somewhere close to $22K (It’s okay she has insurance but it makes me worry about people who don’t)
I have enough stress in my real life. I’m not sure I really want more stress and frustration from video games.
5. Reaction Speeds, Execution And Mobility.
I don’t want to turn this into a “Oh poor James” thing but about seven…no wait. Eight. EIGHT YEARS AGO? Anyways. I had a brain injury in 2011. It sucked. I ended up being mostly okay. Which is good. But I noticed my reaction speeds got bad. Really bad. Mobility and Reactions for me are a major problem particularly in my fingers. I tried just about every type of controller and stick to see if it makes any difference and it sucks. It’s not a controller issue. Nothing makes things better. It’s just me. Even learning the timing and rhythm for combos is a lesson in frustration for me. I’ve even found at times that it’s hard for me to even do basic things like type on a keyboard. So being able to do complicated inputs in fighting games probably aren’t going to be much easier. It also doesn’t help that several of my doctors have informed me I may or may not have a hypermobility issue that may or may not be called something along the lines of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, basically causing issues with movement and pain and numbness in my arms and fingers. All this is are things that have weighed heavy in my mind as I continue to struggle with this.
6. The Death Threat.
Okay so yeah. This was a thing that happened. I’ll give the short version of the story but basically someone watched a YouTube video of a tournament I did commentary at and figured out my twitter, and said my commentary was bad (which I mean, yeah it is) and then said he was going to come to my house and kill me. This is where I would put my evidence except I don’t have any. I didn’t take any pictures because as I went to report this the account got deleted. I haven’t really mentioned this before outside of a few people because of that but now that I’m pretty sure the issue won’t arise again I’m down to talk about it.
Now, I want to say, I didn’t take this too seriously, but seeing as I’m not sure how many people from outside our local scene watch our tournament videos I was worried this came from someone that was in our scene. I then later learned it wasn’t, and it was in fact a group of people from some other place wanting to send hate towards some local commentators and one of them apparently went too far and sent me a death threat on twitter.
The point is, I have enough stress in my life. I don’t really need shit like this.
So maybe you can understand. That after all of the feelings that I had over Tekken and the FGC, that this was the thing that maybe made me thing that this wasn’t worth it.
An Aside; Positives About Our Community:
Our community is great. There’s a chance if you are reading this you are in the Seattle Tekken community. And if so, that means that you’re great. Sure sometimes the lot of us fight and argue, but we are a great community. Even after I had my situation with the Death Threat, everyone I talked to about it was supportive and took the situation seriously, in fact probably way more seriously than I did. And that’s great. Our events are great and you all are wonderful people. If I did not have all of you to play video games with, I probably would have quit fighting games and video games years ago. I like OUR Fighting Game Community. I hate every other Fighting Game Community. There are a lot of hateful toxic annoying stupid people that I just don’t have the ability to handle anymore. Just go on r/kappa if you need proof of this. Don’t get me started on the whole ESports side of the FGC.
A few weeks ago (before the death threat) I was struggling with something. I don’t even remember what it was in practice mode. I was getting frustrated and upset again. Basically all the feelings I had over the last several months hit me all at once. It was around that time I got a call from someone on Discord.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“Getting angry at fightymans games”
“Because I’m frustrated and I don’t understand what’s happening”
“Why are you doing something that makes you frustrated. Are fighting games fun for you?”
“You know, you don’t have to be good at fighting games. There are other things you are good at probably that don’t frustrate you as much.”
So What’s The Point Of This Whole Thing?:
In short, I don’t know if tournaments are for me anymore. And this was a really hard thing to finally come to terms with. I enjoy fighting games as a video game, I even like playing them casually and maybe if I get lucky I learn a thing. But it’s no longer worth my time and money to go to tournaments when the results and joy just aren’t there. So I dunno. I think I’m saying I’m taking a hiatus from tourneys? Maybe a retirement? I don’t know why I just typed for several pages. I think I just needed to vent.
And I want to make it abundantly clear, I’m not quitting fighting games forever. I just don’t think I want to compete. It’s just gotten to a point where I can’t ignore this anymore. This thought of quitting hasn’t been an easy decision and it’s something I’ve gone back and forth on for a while. As much as I love fighting games and always will in some way or another, maybe a break (or perhaps) another break is overdue. And maybe I’ll come back. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll go back to doing what I did before I started taking Tekken seriously, which is going to events and just being a spectator. I like Basketball, but I don’t play Basketball, not even at a casual level, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I like watching fighting games. I like watching good players play fighting games, and I even like talking about fighting games and playing them casually. But the idea of going to a tournament and take part in serious competition just isn’t something that I think I’ll enjoy anymore. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
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