The Fighting game community: The truth about your skills

The rivalries between people who become opponents in the fighting game community can be quite intense sometimes. The problem is that most individuals who play fighting games are not properly measuring their level of skill. Those who want to learn how to play fighting games need to consider many factors.

There is a long debate in regards to what it means to be good at fighting games. I have engaged in this argument with many players and everyone seems to have their own opinion. With that said, we are going to look at this based on a logical approach. We need to look into the factors that can determine who is the better player.

Knowledge in regards to how to play a game does not equal superior skills, but it does require mental abilities.

According to the dictionary, mental ability means “the power to learn or retain knowledge”

On the other hand, skill means “the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance”

Intelligence means “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”

Therefore, your mental ability allows you to learn skills and your intelligence makes the best possible use of those skills.

If two players are new at a fighting game, their skill level is extremely low. This does not matter if their opponent is equally new at the game. If both players have the exact same skill level, their intelligence is going to declare the winner.

Based on this scenario, if one player is very skilled at the game and their opponent is not, the skilled player is always going to win. This happens because their bag of tricks is significantly larger.

In this situation, the new player’s handicap is his or her lack of skill. This means that there is no way to measure who the better player is in this scenario. You can measure who has more skills, but not who has more intelligence to play the game.

For example, if I were to visit an arcade in Japan and I played SSF2T against anyone in that place, I would get destroyed beyond belief. I wouldn’t feel bad about it, because I know that these players are way more skilled than I am. They spend more time playing Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo than most other people on earth.

Getting rid of the salt when playing fighting games

If you look at the fighting game community and search for salty compilation videos, you will find countless uploads. Creating this video has also been a way for me to put the negative aspect of fighting games to rest.

I used to be the type of player who would get super salty anytime anyone would best me in a game. I let go of the salt once I understood how competitive play works. Now I truly enjoy fighting games and I feel that I appreciate them at a higher level. I don’t really mind losing because I know it’s essential to lose many times in order to start winning. Just like it is required for you to fail in life many times before you become successful at anything.

The essentials of competitive balance

Let’s start with a very simple example. You have two people who are equally new at fighting games and they have never even played fighting games before. You take one hour of your time to simultaneously teach those two players what each button does in terms of normal attacks and you explain the basics of throwing, jumping, highs and lows.

Once this basic training takes place, you match those two players to battle on a FT10. The winner of this match is going to be one with superior intelligence without a doubt. Both players had the same amount of time to prepare and the same level of experience. That makes it possible for a proper assessment of the superior player.

This takes us back to the meaning of intelligence being the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The winner of a FT10 between two equally unskilled players is going to determine who had more intelligence to apply the knowledge imparted to them during that hour.

Only two players who are just getting started or two players who have reached the top levels of a game can fight with an outcome that determines who is the most talented player.

So, the message here is that the best player between two people can only be determined by taking several factors into consideration. It is not just black and white. A guy with 10 thousand online matches in any fighting game is most likely going to beat a guy with 500 matches. You can’t really know which of those two players is the most talented. Not until they both reach the same level of knowledge in that particular game.

In order to judge that, the lower skilled player would need to catch up to that same level as his opponent. Only then, one of them could be declared to be the one that makes better use of his or her skills.

If you feel offended by this video and you think it diminishes the value of being a good player, that is not the intention. Maybe understanding this is going to make it easier for people to deal with losing in fighting games. It can also deflate some egos that feel powerful and mighty by smurfing their opponents.

99.9% of the time when you lose, you lose due to an imbalance in the level of experience between you and your opponent. This is not due to a lack of mental ability or because your opponent is smarter. The same applies to winning because the scenario of two people with equal experience in a game is not that common.

It only happens with certainty at major tournaments in top 8 situations, and even then, some of those players are vastly inferior to the top 3. In those cases, it comes down to who plays more, and who invests more of their life in a fighting game.

Perhaps a tournament with completely amateur players that have equal experience would be more exciting than one with pro players. The reason why this is possible is that it feels more admirable to see how people evolve during a fight by discovering new ways to handle their opponent, as opposed to what pros are doing. Professional players mentally scroll through their bag of tricks to see what mixups they will do in their next turn.

The advantages related to character tier lists

There are people who debate that there is no such thing as a bad character just a bad player. Perhaps there is some truth to that, but even when you see examples of pro players beating the odds with low tier characters, this is rarely the case. 

The truth is that a very strong character in a game can make a huge difference. SF3 Third Strike provides a perfect example. When you see a tournament at high levels in that game, you will see that Chun Li and Ken will be the most popular characters.

Some characters will need to work much harder to win a match against others. This means that if two equally skilled players battle it out with characters that are not equally effective, the one using a high tier character will have more chances of winning. This is not just an opinion; it is a fact that has been proven time and time again.

This is not to say that it is impossible to win a match with a low tier character against a top tier character. It has happened even at large tournaments, but it is a very uncommon scenario in the fighting game community at pro level play.

In many ways, it is the responsibility of pro players to choose a character that increases their chances of winning. It is undeniable that the majority of the pro players in most fighting games will choose a high tier character.

Questions and answers

Are fighting games difficult to get into?

Yes, this is one of the biggest issues that people in the fighting game community will mention. They have a hard time getting people interested due to the complexity of the games and the steep learning curve.

The good thing about this is that it does indeed build character. It also feels much more satisfying to become a good fighting game player.

Is the fighting game community considered toxic?

No more than any other community in the gaming world. All communities have toxic players and to say one community is more toxic than the rest is most likely not accurate. Many genres have a large community of toxic players.

Perhaps many accuse the fighting game genre of this due to how personal the contests can be. This is a one on one match and there is no team to blame for a loss.

Do you need to use arcade sticks in order to become a pro player?

Not at all, but this is also going to depend on the type of game you play. For example, smash bros is a game that most pro players prefer to play with a gamepad. Then you have games like Street Fighter V which is also very gamepad friendly.

With that said, there are some games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo that are most likely played with arcade sticks. The main reason is that this is a much more accurate control for the strict inputs in that game.

Is it hard to become a professional gamer?

It is similar to becoming a professional musician that earns a substantial amount of income. This means that it is possible, but the odds are against you in the FGC. The reason is that the scene is still too small in comparison to other eSports.

The good news is that the scene is evolving rapidly and we may see something truly amazing happening in the coming years. Many sponsors are paying attention to the fighting game genre. This means that we could see more opportunities for pro players to profit.

Final thoughts

There is no question that skills and intelligence are complex topics that require entire books to explain in detail. Nevertheless, the core of what skills are and what intelligence is can be determined without too much complexity.

It is important to remember that anyone that is superior at a game due to more exposure is not necessarily more intelligent. You cannot measure that against a new player. Only once both players have reached the same level, they could measure who is the most intelligent player.

The future can be very bright for fighting games once the process of playing online is fine-tuned to avoid lag related issues.