One Last Thank You to Seth, More than a Community Manager

By on June 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Apologies for the tardiness of this, but I feel like I have to get some things on the record while Seth’s departure from Capcom is at least a little warm.  The generous articles regarding Mr. Killian have mostly focused on “Seth the community manager.”  While he was certainly superlative in this role, his contributions go way deeper than that.  I’ve known Seth for a while, and maybe because of that I got a little bit of inside info on the many things he has done during his tenure.  The truth is, many of the pivotal developments that have contributed to today’s healthy, vibrant fighting game scene have Seth’s fingerprints all over them. Let me show you see how deep the rabbit hole goes…

Beyond Community Management

Insiders know that Seth had a big impact on tuning the fighting games during his tenure. Capcom doesn’t name a boss character after you for being a community manager. In addition to focusing on gameplay issues, Seth carried the banner for quality networking-features in a company that didn’t always understand the vast quality difference between Asian and western networks. We can thank Seth for continuing to beat the drum on netplay, and Capcom for having the good sense to listen.

Did you know Seth kicked off the MadCatz TE stick development project? Yup. Before SF4, acquiring a proper controller to use was a dicey proposition. Players used a mix of sticks from MAS, Hori, Pelican, Nyko, and homebrews. Some of these were good products, but many weren’t. Bad sticks would short out consoles routinely. There was no standard. Different sticks had different shapes, sensitivities, sizes, and weights.

Seth knew that for SF4 to succeed players needed easy access to a high quality fight stick. He kicked off the TE project and worked with MadCatz to design the first joystick product made specifically for tournament-minded fighting game players. This stick set the standard for the world we know today, where practically every stick you buy sources the same parts, has a similar feel, and is built with quality.

Professor Killian, PhD in Domination

Seth changed the way many of us look at fighters, both inside and outside the scene. Seth can break the game down like no other. His contributions even before joining Capcom are enormous.  His paper on Controlling Space  is still referenced as the single most important concept in understanding 2D fighters.  It’s a must read, along with the rest of his Domination 101 series, which is incredibly still relevant today despite being written back in 2003.  More recently, his interview with Daigo  at Evo 2011 explored the games to new depths, both strategically and mentally.  Nobody talked about the game like this before Seth, and no one does it better even today.

At Capcom Seth worked tirelessly to educate the gaming press and public about fighting games. He was a die-hard evangelist who could talk eloquently both about the games and the competitive scene around them. In the early days of SF4, his character walk-though videos introduced the game to new players with a personal touch. This was a never ending, boots-on-the-ground job. From media interviews to university lectures, anyone who saw Seth during the past four years can attest to just how much time he spent on the road.

Thousands of interviews pushing the religion of fighters have paid off. We now fairly regularly see fighting game coverage from the major news magazines like IGN and Joystiq, much of it featuring top players who can continue to educate about the games.

Throughout all of this, Seth kept things fun. He was always remembered that above all else these are games that are meant to be enjoyed. Though things like the Fight Clubs, Seth turned Street Fighter into a party for the competitors and fans alike. He always had a contagious enthusiasm about the games.

Game Changer

In measuring Seth’s contributions, remember that there wasn’t a written job description for most of this stuff. Seth defined a new model for publisher-to-gamer interaction that has been copied again and again.  For those who joined us after Street Fighter IV, it’s impossible to fully describe the change that has occurred on Seth’s watch.  Think about a world with no new game releases, no quality sticks, no game betas at conventions and community events, and no interaction between the game developers and players.  That’s the world we were living in then, and without Seth it’s quite possible that would still be the world today.  Yes, it’s true that maybe some of these things would have happened without Seth, but then again maybe not.  Because of Seth’s vision, all of it happened with a dedication and passion that few could match.

It’s often said that luck and timing play a role in every big success, and that’s certainly the case here. We’re all lucky that Seth, a world-class player with so many other gifts, happened to be around at such a critical time in the history of fighers, and that Capcom had the good sense to lure him away from the halls of academia and let him run wild with his fingers in so many pies. Seth, good luck with all your future endeavors, and don’t forget to drop in on us every once in a while.