With the current fighting game resurgence in full swing, and with even more fighting games in development, people are starting to worry about whether or not the game that they’re playing or looking forward to will be played seriously at tournaments. This, of course, is why you see people arguing over the merits of these games on the forums. People will mention things such as balance, depth, technical superiority, art style, etc. just to say why their favorite game is worth playing. However, these folks are missing out on arguably the most important factor on whether or not a game is taken seriously at tournaments – community.
To survive in the tournament circuit, a fighting game must, first and foremost have a healthy, active community of players. A game may be the most balanced, or the deepest fighting game around, but if only a handful of players play it, then it’s not going to survive in the tournament circuit. For example, games like Vampire Savior and the Virtua Fighter series, while technically good, have failed to become mainstays at major tournaments simply because they didn’t have enough dedicated players.
This isn’t to say that things like balance and depth aren’t important, as they are key factors that help contribute to building a game’s community. However, they do not guarantee a community. What guarantees a community is people – you and me.
In other words, if there’s a game you really like, go out and help build the community for that game. Don’t be content with just playing the game at home – no, that doesn’t do anything to build the community. You need to go out and participate, find other people who enjoy the same game and play with them. But don’t just stop there, keep the community growing and look for ways to connect with even more people who’re playing the same game. Go to events, whether they’re tournaments or casuals. If you can’t find any in your area, step up and make your own.
Even if the game you like isn’t out yet, you can already start building a community. Do this by participating in the forums, by communing with other people who are looking forward to the game and, more importantly, getting the word out to people who might not have heard of the game but might be interested in trying it out.
Once a game gets a large, healthy community, good things are bound to happen. Look at Melty Blood Actress Again; a few years ago nobody would have thought that something that started out as an independently developed “doujin” (i.e. fan-made) fighter would be played at EVO, yet it happened at EVO 2k10. This was all thanks to a community that cared enough to mobilize and vote when the EVO staff opened a poll to decide which game would be played at the world tournament.
Perhaps then, the question we should be asking in the forums isn’t why a game is tournament worthy. Instead we should ask, what can we do to make sure that a game has a community strong enough to support it at tournaments. Community; start it, build it, nurture it, grow it, because at the end of the day, it’s what matters the most.[EVO2k11 photo and MBAA stream capture c/o EVO2k.com] [This article represents the views of the author and may not represent the views of Shoryuken.com as a whole] [About the author: Franz “d3v” Co is a volunteer moderator for SRK and Capcom-Unity. He also dreams of the day a Vampire/Darkstalkers game makes it to the EVO main stage.]