Opinion: “Toxic Community” and Building a Better FGC Opinion: “Toxic Community” and Building a Better FGC
Hey SRK readers, I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months about how the fighting game community got a reputation for being... Opinion: “Toxic Community” and Building a Better FGC

Hey SRK readers,

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months about how the fighting game community got a reputation for being hostile — and how that turns people off from getting involved. This opinion article is a call for more civility, both inside and outside our community. But I’m going to start by telling a story, so bear with me.

cvs2

The Story of Meaneric

My first real Street Fighter home was the UC Berkeley Bearcade. Capcom vs. SNK 2 had persuaded me to pick up fighting games for the first time since Street Fighter II’: Hyper Fighting, and I was bitten by the competitive bug downright fierce. In the East Bay, that meant going to the Bearcade, ignoring the sign that said STUDENT ID REQUIRED, and throwing down with the best that Berkeley had to offer.

In CvS2, that was a guy named Eric. Eric gave me a tough-love education in the ways of CvS2, teaching me 50 cents at a time to practice combos, learn footsies, tech throws, and to not jump and roll willy-nilly. It took me over a year before I ever took a game off of Eric. (Thank you, Athena crouching fierce.)

We almost never talked, and I could count the times he gave me a small crumb of advice or encouragement before that game on one hand. He’d run through everyone at the Bearcade, give a little shrug when he won, and look as bored as possible until someone stepped up to challenge him again. (Those of you who remember the arcade days of fighting games will no doubt recognize that “I’m so bored, this game sucks” shrug that so many high-level players used to do when playing against scrubby strangers.)

Playing against Eric made me better, no doubt — but he was kind of an asshole. (Some of the other Bearcade players referred to him as “Meaneric”.) I put up with it, but I imagine Meaneric soured dozens of other potential fighting game enthusiasts from the game entirely. Worse, his attitude was contagious; just like I learned footsies, I also learned the waste-of-time shrug, and I probably repelled a few people myself. But I was lucky enough to find other people to play with, who would expose my mistakes and then offer me suggestions on how to improve. To Eric’s credit, he eventually lightened up a bit as well.

Eight years after the Bearcade closed, my closest friends are the ones who helped me get better so I could help them get better. For all the games I played with Eric, I haven’t heard from him in years. And for all of the games and local tournaments Eric won, he never looked happy about it.

The virtuous cycle of Street Fighter

When I first started playing CvS2, I was drawn in by the satisfaction of winning. I would obsessively keep track of my wins and losses during random casuals because I wanted to cling to that feeling of competence. But I don’t think that’s the strongest factor that keeps us playing fighting games. I think what keeps me — and most likely, many of you, too — around the fighting game community is the combination of two things: a game that allows us to instantly engage in an intimate contest of will against another person, and an addiction to self-improvement.

Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman has described the process of learning to play Street Fighter as “psychopathically empathetic”; basically, we learn how to put ourselves in other people’s emotional state so we can better beat the crap out of them. But the thrill of winning alone won’t keep you around for long — because without new challenges (and challengers), you’ll get bored. So we read each others’ minds, punish each others’ mistakes quickly and painfully, and then learn from it together so we can both improve and find new mistakes to punish. It’s a beautiful, powerful thing — even if it’s just a video game, we’re practicing the process of becoming better people! — and in the end, we learn to cultivate a sense for what makes both ourselves and our opponents tick.

This shared experience, more than anything else, makes me feel instant kinship to any other fighting game player — and it makes me want to bring new people into the community so they can share in it as well. But it’s important to acknowledge that this really is a two-step process of:

Phase 1) Punish Each Others’ Mistakes;

Phase 2) Help Each Other Improve;

and without that second part — the part that Eric was missing — we’ll all just be a bunch of assholes.

The contradiction of our “toxic community”

I’m never prouder to be part of the fighting game community than when I’m at Evolution; it really is something special when we’re all together, beating eachother up in person. After all, most of us came into fighting games like I did; meeting strangers in public places, playing video games with them, and making friends with them. Evo is basically one weekend in the biggest, baddest fighting game arcade ever, and there really isn’t any way to describe how great it feels to someone who has never been besides bringing them along next year (or, barring that, showing them one of the “Moments” videos).

But I’m never more embarrassed to be part of the fighting game community than when I’m on the Internet. We’ll be disrespectful and say stuff we’d never say in person. When a top player or notable community figure makes a mistake, we’ll jump on them quickly and cruelly — in comments sections, in Twitter, in stream chat, in forums, and everywhere else that is part of the aggregated online fighting game community. To me, it looks like we’ve gotten really good at Punishing Mistakes — just like we practice in fighting games — but we’re not really that good at helping each other improve. Online, we look like a whole bunch of Meanerics — and I believe it turns countless people away.

Frankly, I’m not surprised. Think about the first time you played Street Fighter against someone online — how much harder it is to read someone when you’re not standing next to them, how frustrating it is to get bodied and not be able to immediately request a runback, how salty you feel when you just know that the other person isn’t accepting your match request because you got beaten so badly that they think you’re just a waste of their time. The lack of that face-to-face connection makes it harder to empathize with someone else, whether you’re doing that to get in their head for a game, or whether you’re posting a comment on an article somewhere. And without that empathy, it makes it much harder to care about Phase 2) Help Each Other Improve — which sucks, because that’s the part that makes us a community, not just a group of people who happen to play the same games.

Dealing with noobs (and the press)

A few weeks ago, the Penny Arcade Report’s Andrew Groen wrote a review of the PC version of King of Fighters XIII that was controversial, to say the least. My take on the article itself is complicated and best left to my personal blog, not the SRK front page — but suffice it to say that many of us got angry. Afterwards, PAR editor Ben Kuchera took to Twitter to publicly complain about the FGC as “toxic” after having sorted through a whole bunch of hate, apparently including multiple death threats.

To be sure, I understand exactly how it feels to see a community you love so much getting unfairly represented in the general-interest games media, especially when it feels like your community is getting baited into stirring shit up online. But I see this kind of article as the equivalent of scrubby lag tactics, or non-stop CvS2 roll-throw/DP/super shenanigans; as the smarter player, it’s our job to punish said scrub tactics quickly and consistently, without malice or anger, and teach the other player how to play the game better so that all of us can improve. Death threats don’t help anyone.

Yes, even top players will get hit by scrubby stuff occasionally, and that’s a learning experience for us, too. But part of being the better player is to pay it forward; to be patient with the new kids and show them the ropes, even if they don’t get it it the first time (or the tenth time), just like the previous generation of fighting game players did with you when you first got started.

I’m asking us all to stop being so mean. That doesn’t mean we withhold criticism when criticism is due, just like we don’t hold back on punishing in-game mistakes lest we allow each other to develop bad habits. But it’s harder to learn from your mistakes when you’re mad or angry at the person exposing them; you get defensive and double down on your mistakes (or blame the controller/PS3/monitor/atmospheric oxygen content) instead of opening your mind to the possibility that you messed up and can learn from the experience.

Tone matters. Saying “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why” is not the same as saying “This is the worst article I have ever read, and you should die in a fire”; the former invites discussion that both parties can learn from, and the latter just makes everyone involved wish they were doing something else. And tone matters most when you’re new at this, you’re kind of scrubby, and you’re not quite so used to having your mistakes publicly exposed in front of an audience.

Make no mistake: When it comes to writing about or generally engaging with the fighting game community, general-interest games media are still fairly scrubby. We grew up and evolved our own stories and standards with close to zero interest from anyone else for a long time, and now they’ve got some catching up to do. Precious few press were in attendance at Evo 2013.

The fact is, very few games press have any idea how to cover the fighting game community, and learning how to do it is kind of like learning to play Street Fighter — you learn by making mistakes and having people help you learn from them. Things are getting better — Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek did a great job covering the collusion story, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier covered the Art of Fighting benefit, and CNN Photo did a neat FGC slideshow — but it’s going to be a while. We’re just past the days of grumbling about the “’09ers”; think of these folks as “’13ers”.

Let’s Fight Like Gentle(people)

I’ll be honest with you, SRK readers; I think I’m learning how to write about fighting games, but the comments wear me down, too. It’s tough to read a comment demanding for my resignation when I post an article about experimenting with tournament formats. I hated having to go through the transphobic comments on my interview with Adelheid Stark about competitive Divekick. And I couldn’t believe that some folks out there were so offended that I ask Viscant for his insights on the state of competitive Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 when the damn guy is an Evo champion.

dudley

Plenty of people have advised me to just extract whatever useful feedback I can and ignore the rest; to me, that feels like a copout. It’s hard for me to tell my friends they should give a fighting game stream a chance when stream chat is awful, or read the articles I write and edit when the comments are noxious, or engage with the forums and on Twitter when everyone is tearing each other down. For people who are part of the fighting game community as an all-consuming hobby, it’s a minor annoyance; for people like myself who work in the games industry and have to deal with toxic communities all over the place, it’s an additional level of crap I’d rather not deal with in my sparse free time.

Every gaming community has its own special brand of nastiness to deal with, and the fighting game community is often subjected to an unwarranted level of scrutiny and criticism from outsiders who haven’t been around and don’t understand us. That said, I don’t think that is an excuse to act just as awful to each other as Call of Duty kids on Xbox Live do. The longer I play fighting games, the more I’m convinced that these games are teaching us how to better examine our own flaws and correct them — in other words, how to be better people! So let me be proud for a minute and suggest that we are better, we can do better, and we should do better.

The great thing about the fighting game community is that we’re each others’ worst enemies when we’re playing the game, and we’re best friends the moment a match is over. Let’s extend that into the way we talk to each other online, as well.

When a top player messes up, let’s call them out on it — but let’s be compassionate, too. I respect the hell out of anyone with enough passion for fighting games that they try to make it their full-time job. And I think it’s probably for the best that I didn’t have an audience of tens of thousands of people watching my games or following me on Twitter when I was 21, because I sure did say and do plenty of dumb shit without having it get spread all over the Internet.

When a tournament organizer messes up, let’s make that as transparent as possible to ensure everyone is on the level and treated fairly. Let’s also treat them with the respect they’re due — respect they deserve because they bust their asses for untold hours to make sure we have a place to play with each other, whether it’s a small local venue or an international major.

Perhaps most importantly, let’s not forget that the backbone of the fighting game community is the regular folks; the ones who enter tournaments they know they’re not going to win, the ones who watch your stream when you’re just messing around in training mode, the ones who tell their friends how much fun it is to play Street Fighter, and hey, you should really come over this weekend and try it out.

I want the fighting game community to be the envy of every other. I want people to speak with admiration about how we welcome newbies, develop strong friendships, and get hype like no one else. I don’t think that’s hard for us to do — we just have to make every online FGC space feel just like it does at Evo. And that starts by being a just a bit nicer.

I’m going to end this with a short excerpt from my interview with Seth Killian earlier in the week that really stood out to me:

As for me personally, I started out angry, competitive. I didn’t have a lot of control over some things in my life, but in games, the control was mine. I could rub someone’s face in how foolish they were, and it felt amazing. “See how dumb you are? Don’t you even realize you always jump in after my second fireball? I can read you like a book!” This is part of the exhilaration of fighting games, and a thrilling feeling for a skinny pencil-necked nerd. I can walk into an arcade and just school all sorts of guys, much bigger and older than me, even the dangerous-looking ones.

Back then, I treated Internet discussions about the game the same way I treated the game itself. I discovered Street Fighter and the Internet around the same time, so they were deeply intertwined in my head. I treated them both like games where you could antagonize another person until you won, with no lasting harm. SF is probably still that way, but in the time since then, the internet has become a big part of our real lives. Today, being a jerk on the internet is just being a jerk, so I grew up a little and stopped acting like that.

Growing into adulthood in the FGC and watching it over time has also changed my attitude. I still like to make fun of things, but now with a little perspective I think twice before popping off. Some of you have children. Some of you will suffer personal tragedies. Many of my best friends are from this scene, and I guess I finally learned that people on the internet are real! At the end of the day, we love the same things.

Let’s beat each other up in the game, and be cool when we’re not. Thanks for reading, everyone.

  • Tan Tan

    I’m sorry, but I have played within many communities and they really aren’t too different than the FGC…minus not being ghetto cause they have money. All these issues I keep hearing about sexism and racism isn’t an FGC issue, its a straight up gaming issue. Doesn’t matter what community are in, these things have and will exist for quite some time. I don’t understand why people put a bad vibe on the FGC, minus being broke as shit, cause in all honesty, all gaming communities are screwed up. I am not saying that this is an excuse to do those things, but rather you can’t single out a community when the issue is a social one.

    • Hex Maniac Michael

      Not disagreeing with your point regarding other communities. It’s totally true that this is a problem across gaming communities, but if we consider ourselves a part of a fighting game scene, then wouldn’t we want to focus on improving THAT community to which we belong rather than others?

      • Tan Tan

        Yes, I agree. All I am saying is that the bad rep our community has is the same as any other yet we are the ones that people point the finger at. Its like a black person calling a white person a racist cracker.

    • Patrick Miller

      I totally agree that each community has their own problems! But I also think that each community should be doing their own work to improve themselves, instead of just saying, “Well, everyone’s just going to be an asshole” and leaving it alone at that.

      I want to be able to tell my non-FGC friends that they should really get into this community because fighting games are one of the best things that has ever happened to me, but it’s hard for me to do that when there’s so much unnecessary negativity.

      • Tan Tan

        I totally agree, I am not making an excuse to say to leave it alone, I’m just saying that people give a bad rep to the FGC for things they are doing themselves.

        • PJ

          Exactly. “racism and sexism” were never a problem in the scene until stream monsters got a hold of them and started making retarded memes.

          • Hex Maniac Michael

            They were problems, they just weren’t as widespread or visible. And if the language of these comments are indicative of anything, it’s that there are many more problems in addition to sexism & racism. I definitely had a few friends who started backing out before SFIV & streaming even dropped because of the constant homophobic & transphobic language.

          • PJ

            Sorry to say that just sounds like a large population of asshats in your particular area, not a representation of the fgc as a whole. Just my opinion though.

          • Hex Maniac Michael

            I’ve been in Midwest and California, know women all over the States who have had this problem pre-09, same thing with homophobia, so it’s not just my area & not just my experience. It’s a problem, it’s been a problem, & whether or not it’s a small percentage of players or a large one, it’s still a problem I think that we all need to work toward resolving.

            The wonderful thing about FGs, for me, was that traditionally it was fairly inexpensive to play them and compared to other games, I think the genre still is fairly accessible. I want to see it maintain that spirit without border guarding & excluding women & LGBT identified people.

          • PJ

            Weird because I’m east coast, started down in New Jersey (lived @ 8’on the Break arcade for years, lol) and now live up in the New England area (New Hampshire), and haven’t had near the same experience you and your friends seem to have had. But like you said, I agree it’s definitely more widespread and visible with the advent of the internet and specially stream monsters who I basically refer to as the lowest common denominator of human. In fact any weekly/major stream I watch the first thing I do is click that little “popout” button in the corner and close the window with chat behind it. I swear sometimes my IQ drops just by glancing at stream chat. 😉

      • MangaTherapy

        It kinda makes me wonder about incentives and how can you “reward” someone to not act negatively towards others. Then again, I do agree that if the community focuses a lot on improvement, then the negative feedback that does come may have a minimal impact.

        The Internet can be so much full of BS.

    • Rol

      Tan Tan,

      So all I heard was: “Since everyone is like this, the FGC shouldn’t improve.”

      I do agree you to an extent about singling out the FGC, but here is what it really should say:

      Outsiders can’t single out a community when the issue is a social one.

      The distinction is that those INSIDE the FGC can 100% single out the FGC community if they want to improve that community, as they are the ones that created it, run it, and foster it in the first place.

      • Tan Tan

        Like I said, “I am not saying that this is an excuse to do those things.” Yes, well I was meaning outsiders cause of course those in the community can call out their community issues, I just thought that was a given already without having to say it,

    • He’s talking about us, though, because he’s a part of us and because we ought to be better. We ought to be better than “all gaming communities”.

    • AngelFire

      But does that make it ok? I think thats the point. As people in the FGC only we can change it. I haven’t played a FG in months because go these same issues. I fight someone. I win. Get spam about how bad I am and how they have fought in tournaments and i’m cheap. OR i lose. I get mail about how i’m garbage and how i need to go back to practice. I’m denied a rematch because i’m not “Worth the time”. I can’t control what those people do or say. Only they can. if they choose to change it Great. If not then they’re doing nothing but driving people with a genuine interest in the FGC away. I still get nervous wen I go to Competitives because of these things. When I went to my first Tourney in 2011 (CEO) I was fighting tekken 6. I won my first round and all was good. I was pleased with myself. When I turned to tell my opponent that they fought great and I had fun. He walked away and said nothing. Only We can change the fact that the FGC has become a frigid place for newcomers. True story.

      • Tan Tan

        I don’t think anyone said it is okay, cause its obviously not.

    • Azrael VG

      I agree. The FGC has not being taken over by corporations so we thinks we own it and sometimes are ashamed of it. But it is no different on the world of warcraft forum and tournament or the starcraft forums. The lack of money incentives creates a void that players need to fill and this just creates more drama. Local Tournament drama, listening to sexist crap , pot sharing nonsense etc. If there were more prizes to be had we would be more focused on winning. Sadly the fighting game industry lacks the design to create money for prizes. Sometimes I find it is better to practice dota of starcraft because there is more prize and recognition to be had.

      • NickLeake

        I think a lot of people feel this way at one point or another. This is why we always have to show our best side to Joe Public. I want people to be inspired to play their best and level up because tournaments can crank out prizes worth fighting for. But most of all, I just want the FGC to grow so that kids in more areas aren’t tempted to drop a game they love because nobody else plays it, or the closest “scene” for that game is over 2 hours away.

    • ForteWily

      Ok, I get your point here… but I feel that misses the point of what Patrick is getting at.
      The point is that you are right, these are elements of a greater issue that stems from the failure to communicate. It’s not something that is exclusive to the FGC nor gaming for that matter. Nor should it be. Over the years, I have come to this conclusion of the web… the internet is really great at communicating in a binary fashion, however anything that is beyond that is possible but difficult, easy misinterpret.

      That said, this is the FGC… we love competition. So why don’t we make one of out of this. If we can get the FGC to improve on a base level, you think that other communities will not follow?
      I doubt it. I honestly think that if we can get other communities so “salty” at us for acting like upstanding gents (and ladies, etc), they they will move to correct any flaw to change their image as well.

      But the point that Patrick is making is this… That doesn’t start until we improve our own relations and image, collectively… as a community… and that starts on an individual level. Between players, and how we project ourselves to anyone else looking. Because, someone is watching… and well, we all know the meme by now. Getting tired of it, if you ask me.

  • I’m glad you brought this up and I agree with you 99%. I do wish it could be a more peaceful environment but I know that it can’t exactly be that way because that is not life. Its just not the way it works. Its not all fluffy bunnies and furry creatures. Life can be harsh at times. We run the gamut of emotions, take the bitter with the sweet, all that philosophical jazz.

    So while I 99% believe in what you say I know it can’t completely be that way there has to be this balance. I often wonder how life would be if it were more peaceful and I can imagine that boredom would eventually set in. Never the less I’d love to see a change in this community with the bad attitude towards players who genuinely want to get better but just need more time.

    • JELIFISH19

      But this is a hobby. It’s not supposed to reflect life. People do this because they enjoy it. The behavior of some make it difficult for others to enjoy. If a woman had to deal with sexism, she will enjoy it less and be less inclined to partake in those activities in the future. If it was racism, it would be the same. I personally don’t play shooters anymore because I don’t need a 13 year old calling me “nigger” every time I play. It killed the enjoyment for me. The community is directly tied to the enjoyment of a game that you play with others. It’s a problem when a community that consists of a bunch of people enjoying a hobby turns people away because of negativity.

      • I don’t disagree. I know negativity can’t completely be eradicated but there can be a change in the amount of it. Also, it not reflecting life is impossible because I consider video games to be Art and as they say art imitates life.Fighting games can also be a form of expression which also lands within an emotion.

  • BulletToothTeddy

    Getting back into fighting games this year, I have noticed A LOT of prick behavior online in 3rd Strike and SFIV. I would go up against higher level players and get thrashed, all while being taunted and trash-talked along the way. I get it, you have hundreds/thousands more hours on me and we both know that. Isn’t kicking my ass enough? Coming from playing mostly shooters, the attitude is far worse in the FGC. Too bad how easy it is to be a coward on the other end of the internet.

    • Inan

      I agree with that sentiment, and I’ve been arguing that a large reason why people get turned away from the fighting game community when other communities are just as toxic or worse, is because fighting game matches are so much more personal, especially online. Every loss you feel is only felt by you; every victory you feel is only felt by you.

      Every action and insult is directed toward you and the other player; unlike in team games, there’s no one who has your back when you’re getting trash talked, or delivering said trash talk. Likewise, the trash talker doesn’t have to deal with a team of 5 people counter-ripping him. It really takes more resolve to work through these problems alone than with a team.

    • J.D SRK

      You should try to go into a tournament and you will enjoy the FGC a lot more. Just playing online can’t really give you a sense of how the community is in my opinion.

      • BulletToothTeddy

        I welcome the suggestion, but it’s just not possible for a lot of players. Me and many other guys getting back into the scene are now in their late-20s/early-30s, working 40+ hours a week to pay the mortgage, spending time with our wives, with kids here or on the way. Plus, most of our gaming friends split off after high school/college and we rarely see each other anymore.
        Us “old guys” unfortunately don’t have the time to dedicate to travel to tournaments or even get into a local event. We’re stuck with the online matches only, with the 1-4 hours of gaming we can squeeze in after the wife goes to sleep, sacrificing our own sleep for the love of the game. While I have found a handful of people with integrity who are fun to play with, when I’m playing random ranked matches it’s at least a 75% asshole rate is 3rd Strike and especially SFIV, which is both annoying and a sad reflection of the youth of today. Some nights it makes me wonder why I give up sleep for this and keep coming back to improve when the skilled players just want to belittle you for trying.
        I’ll go grab my cane and dentures now…

        • Pete Q.

          That sucks man. I hope you can at least find a group of regulars to play with online and level up with.

  • MrJechgo

    I’d say that every community can be toxic. It’s like there’s no place for newcomers and/or you have to be extremely talented to be “part” of the community. Fighting games are quite complex to learn and believe it or not, not everyone is adept to comprehend and Crunch the numbers, especially if the game doesn’t show these numbers to begin with or doesn’t have appropriate tutorials.

    The FGC community does have a major issue: it can’t deal with its “new” members properly. Back in the days, fighting games were the craze in arcades, where large groups came together to have a bout. Moreso than not, this is how a player was accepted in the community, for better or worst. Today however, we have the Internet and online players meaning that a ton of players have their shots, the community can’t seem to handle it and filter the new entries. They became even more sour so they can turn down more people.

    This is why many players don’t play online anymore, because they can run into a FGC sourpuss. In Local Multiplayer with friends, that never happens, but since it’s not to play seriously, the fun time takes over the time to improve.

    I’d like to point out that the FGC isn’t the worst community I’ve seen. LoL’s community is abysmal. it’s THAT awful compared to the FGC.

    • NickLeake

      Almost all communities suffer from lack of productive communication online. In fighting games, f both players have headsets, they MIGHT be able to have a conversation, but most of the times mics aren’t used productively, and ranked serves as a faceless 1v1 grind arena with little to no communication outside of provocative behavior (taunts/tea bagging/blasting music from the mic). It’s a shame how hiding behind a computer screen, like hiding behind the wheel of a car, can turn normally solid people into raging douchenozzles.

      AE did a lot right with Endless Battles, but I feel adding regularly scheduled online tournaments (team tournies even???) as well as making ranked matches best of 3 would make people interact with each other more/produce less salt.

  • Hex Maniac Michael

    I think you bring up so many good points here & in general I do agree with all of them.

    I just want to be careful when we mention tone (& I think you know why). There are so many times people approach me or another woman in the community with ‘helpful’ suggestions, thinking they’re being nice, but it comes off as super condescending. I’m not talking about giving us necessary criticism/responding to our mistakes, I’m talking about the immediate assumption that we don’t know what to do with the TEs in our hands.

    So, message to everyone: even if your intentions are great, if you approach someone with the attitude that they don’t know anything – no matter how nice you’re trying to be – it can come off as rude/insulting & people will respond accordingly. Give people the benefit of the doubt & if they show you that they don’t know something, THEN feel free to share that information. Talking to people as equals is part of showing respect.

    • Patrick Miller

      well said!

  • PJ

    I don’t even think these attitudes and outlooks have anything to do with a gaming community, just kids today in general, and unfortunately 3/4 of the FGC is made up of “kids” (15-25 year olds). Outside the gaming aspect of it all today’s younger population is severely lacking in social skills/etiquette period due to more and more emphasis on electronic communication. Texting vs actually talking to people, online play vs sitting next to one another, etc etc.

    • Rafael

      Never blame age. I’m 21 but I’m far more polite than some people older than me with closed mind and that spreads hate in everyday life not just in games.

      More young people means it’s growing it’s not unfortunate.

    • double B

      this^
      I’d say 99.99999% of the online negativity in the FGC comes from young people. they can barely spell, they’re ignorant, they don’t know anything and have never actually accomplished anything IRL.

      Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to get rid of them. But if there was some sort of “seniors club” in the FGC I’d be all over that.

      • RedRickDias

        I don’t agree with the conclusion that there’s “nothing we can do to get rid of them.” That’s just giving up, especially when some of the problems here are ones that haven’t always been part of our hobby. Stream monsters weren’t always a thing and we didn’t really do much about their rise because our culture has always been very relaxed, very informal. That has GENERALLY been a good thing; I’ve been driven away from hobbies where people were too strict.

        If we make a concerted effort to crack down on this stuff, we can overcome it. Through a mix of hammering down bad behavior and promoting good behavior, we can control the tone and at least cut down on the worst of this problem. It will take a lot of work, but the results will be worth it.

        • PJ

          Well said. I also agree something “can” be done about it and it’s also the responsibility of the FGC to try to tone down this behavior and not fuel the fires. Streamers are a HUGE part of this and while people like Spooky and Art are godlike streamers, they do nothing but cultivate this attitude in the FGC to the point I can’t even watch their weeklies anymore cuz I’m sick of hearing nothing but bad memes and “collusion” every 5 seconds just so they can cater to the monsters and get their subs/cpm. (who also subsequently have NOTHING to offer the actual tournament going on, yet think without them it wouldn’t even happen)

          Also being an “older” player I’m kind of sick of hearing about how the fgc wants the bigger payouts and wants to be taken more seriously, then you see players come up to the main stage with names like Dr. Peepee and Fecal Pennance….
          /palm

  • Mr_Kensou

    I 100% agree with everything what this guy has to say.

    I’ve experienced this, been through it and when people starts spouting insults over substance, it’s time for me to take a seat, sit back, and ignore the vitriol.

    I love the FGC, the people therein, and what I do. I hope this reaches out to everyone and we learn from our mistakes. To greatly improve on what’s punished.

    Sho’nuff!

  • NickLeake

    Good read, sound advice. Do your best to be a good person. It’s true we’re not the only community with problems, but being asses to each other is only hurting the global scene, and we don’t have the esports dollars to shrug it off like mobas, SC2, or CoD.

    Personally, I’ve found the FGC to be quite welcoming, especially IRL, and I think in part that is due to the intimate nature of tournaments/gatherings that makes fighting games fun. We should be showing everyone why the FGC is awesome. Good games are best shared with good people

    Small picture for anybody too dense to see the big picture: If you’re a douche, then nobody wants to come over to your place with pizza and play, and then what do you have left to do? You’re left alone to be a miserable salty turd cursing the laggy kids in ranked until you get sick of the game and pick up LoL 😐

  • J.D SRK

    I can understand your points, and it does make me rethink stuff. I agree completely when it comes to welcoming new players. At the same time though, don’t you think it’s hard to be tolerant with the press when people like Ben Kuchera step in and make generalizing statements about the FGC without ever even stepping into EVO or an FGC major?

    It’s very hard to try and have a thoughtful conversation with press who don’t seem to have any interest outside of getting more hits for their articles.

    I know there are a few exceptions, but most of the time, general gaming media will make articles about how they saw some story or rumor online and just went through with it. Rarely do you see a journalist come up and say “Here is me going and experiencing the FGC personally, and here is what that experience meant to me”

    Why can’t they learn from people like Slasher who experience this community first hand and then write about it. It’s kinda frustrating.

    • Mike Pureka

      It’s really NOT that hard to be tolerant. It’s really NOT. Here’s how you do it. You type up your super angry reply, and then you hit cancel. That’s it. Mission accomplished.

      Having a meaningful conversation is harder, because it requires two parties, but you have to be prepared to be one of those parties REGARDLESS of how the other one acts. Then, if they are asses, you can say “Sorry, we tried, but they wouldn’t talk sense.” Throwing an internet temper tantrum because they called you “toxic” is making it seem like they’re RIGHT.

      • Patrick Miller

        Good points, both of you.

        I really don’t think we should tolerate incompetent FGC coverage. I just don’t think we should be mean about it. I think of it like punishing unsafe moves; you never want to let someone think that an unsafe move is safe, so you punish it every time. But you don’t have to call them a scrub (or worse) — and if you DON’T insult them, you’ll make it easier for them to learn how to do it better next time.

        One of my favorite things to come out of Kotaku’s botched FGC coverage was that Alex Jebailey got in touch with Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo and they worked together to figure out how Kotaku could best cover future FGC events. At no point did anyone involved “tolerate” bad coverage; the FGC called Kotaku out, Kotaku acknowledged their fuckup, and those two figured out some new FGC coverage tech.

        • novriltataki

          As if kotaku has any interest in coverage of FGC events. As in, interest in people playing games.

          • SgtKardashian

            Why not? It’s a new avenue to cover in terms of journalism.

      • PJ

        LOL I do this ALL the time on websites like this. I type out these long ass diatribes and then when it’s out of my system I just close the page without hitting “post.”

  • pootnannies

    i’m totally an asshole and maybe fighting games attracts more people like me? i don’t know but to me things are slowly getting better in regards to civility.

  • commanderpepper

    I remember getting into the community back in 09 with the help of my friend. He wasn’t positive but he was honest and helpful. When I play online I don’t tell a player I beat that he/she is an ass and should give up and I don’t send hate mail when I lose. I try to offer advice when asked. I wish more people were more honest and helpful. I’m not asking you to be someone’s best friend but try to help players improve.

  • Ndebe

    Sounds like the author hasn’t been to many other competitive communities. Being an asshole online? Every community: chess, Magic, StarCraft, LoL, etc. It just comes with being anonymous online and not being face to face with the people you talk to: you are going to face assholes. Online play is the exact same too: your teammates rage at you in LoL, people teabag you in Halo, and players will BM you in StarCraft.

    You are part of a community that is full of young adult males who take competition seriously. You aren’t going to get anything else. I seriously wish I had a dime each time an article like this was posted, whether it be in the StarCraft community, the LoL community, the Counter-Strike community, or any competitive community. All the time these writers are getting this brilliant idea that being nice is going to somehow “save” their community that doesn’t need saving. Being nice to each other is a good thing, but the FGC is too big to live and die by a couple people not being assholes. A community can thrive with tons of assholes (just look at the MOBA community) and it can die with tons of nice people.

    I also don’t get why people get so scared when talking about tangling with the press. So what if a couple of shit excuses for journalists shit on the FGC with sensational titles for page clicks? A couple of them will not bring any community anywhere close to its knees. What they will do however, is start a shitstorm over nothing then laugh their way to the bank because all the page clicks they generated with their shit articles allow them to not starve for a month. People say dumb shit all the time, just ignore them.

    • Patrick Miller

      I’ve been in plenty others, and yeah, they also have problems. This is the one I care most about, so I want to make it better, instead of just saying “Well, everyone sucks, so it’s okay if we do too.”

      This community started as “young adult males” but it’s getting older — and you’ll find that many of our older folks (including myself, and I’m hardly old) withdraw because they’re tired of dealing with the endemic assholishness. That is not a good thing.

  • Joshua Travis

    Don’t get too discouraged by those who comment here asking for your resignation. You’re one of the most insightful writers that SRK has had on its front page in a long time.

    • Rahavic

      I agree with Josh here, and if it was me and I wasn’t getting some (not an abundance) of negative feedback, honestly I’d have to rethink my writing style. Might just be me but I guess that’s because I’m pretty polarizing on a lot of the things I say.

  • Solution9

    I can say from my recent experiences with the offline community have been great. It’s as if the community has done a 180…just …offline. While trying to learn kof13 many players helped out with the basics and recommended things I should practice constructively. Having heard about the arcade tough guys and being one long ago in the alpha 1 days I was stunned at how helpful everyone was, how accepting everyone was. I know this article mostly talks about improving our online “division”, but just a reminder of what we have changed.

  • CptPokerface

    The worst part about the online experience is that it’s the only way many of us can even test our skills in the fighter of our choice. Unless you live in Cali or are extremely lucky enough to have a local arcade or know others with a good set-up for people to come around and play, you may very rarely meet others who enjoy fighters.

    When I started college I loved it because every day during my break I’d to the lunch room and join with everyone playing SFIV or watch the really good players go rounds in CVS2 or MVC2. And everyone was really cool about it, no fights, no drama, just fun.

    Having more scenes pop up in other places would really help the community as a whole feel tight knit and together, so people don’t have to put up with troll nonsense online.

  • novriltataki

    My friends toured the US from major to major,came in contact w/ hundreds of randoms,top players,TOs&they say
    every1 were super nice+helpful.

    So if anecdotal evidence from other people determines what you think about the FG scene, that was my friends’ take on it.

  • Andrew St. Andrew

    There are too many stories about what is wrong with the FGC and not enough action by people to fix it.

    • Mike Pureka

      Got some suggestions?

      And I’m not even asking that to be snide. I literally have no idea what the right course of action might be.

      • Andrew is right on little action. Any suggestions fall on deaf ears. SRK isn’t exactly the best of listeners unless it’s self-serving.

      • Andrew St. Andrew

        Well, the easy way would be to build better local scenes and get as many people involved in it one way or another. The more people are involved in the actual community, the less likely they are to act negatively towards it. The problem is that some people are stuck playing online mostly because there isn’t a big enough local scene or they have real life obstacles in the way (ie job). Other games have things like clans to help build relationships between online players but fighting games are one on one. Most people aren’t going to go out of the way to try help somebody out. So, my suggestion would be to have stream lobbies dedicated to helping people out. Other people can watch you play, make comments in chat and help you out that way. Then you can go back and watch the video when you have time and learn. That would at least build some sort of communication between players and give a chance to build rivalries the right way. Just my two cents, but I’m sure there are tons of other things people could do to help too.

        • Ban Midō #Anime#TaskForce

          “the problem is that some people are stuck playing online mostly because there isn’t a big enough local scene or they have real life obstacles in the way (ie job). Other games have things like clans to help build relationships between online players but fighting games are one on one. Most people aren’t going to go out of the way to try help somebody out. ”

          THIS times 100

  • Simio

    I’m “kinda” new to the FGC. I was knee deep in college texts back when SFII first came out so I played only a “little” and then moved onto the working world. Recently, I jumped back in because we has a PS at work with SSFIV and have dived in deep. But being a father and an uncle and wanting to share with the youth, I do wish there were good female characters without all the T&A. Less stereotyping would be a good thing. I look forward to it, though I worry that it might be a while before it leaves the games…

  • Mike Pureka

    For the record, this is some of the most well reasoned stuff I’ve read anywhere, SRK or otherwise, in quite a while. Good show.

  • Yes, everyone wants a better anonymous community, but it won’t happen. What you’re asking for is too much of a change. It’s like throwing a pebble in the ocean expecting the ripples from said pebble to reach both Japan and the US.

    I think a better approach is focusing on why SRK and other fighting game press are so reclusive towards the overall community. Why are they so picky on who they cover and who contributes? Why are they not branching out to more than the West Coast and Japan? Why can’t SRK create or discover new unsung heroes?

    The list goes on and it always seems to stay the same. Yet, you want us to change.

    • Patrick Miller

      We have a tips line that drives a lot of our coverage, FYI: link is right in the upper-right corner of the home page.

      Frankly, SRK has a small editorial staff, and we can’t be everywhere doing everything. We’re working on stepping our game up, but we really do rely on people telling us what and who is new and cool and worth covering,

      • Unfortunately, those lines of communication are no good to those who are still unknown. With no returned feedback, it’s hard to tell what you (SRK) want in terms of content or news. More insight would be welcomed.

    • jchensor

      It’s a common theme you talk about, Glen, as you have spoken to me about it as well. And as I mentioned, it’s not easy to do. A lot of the smaller communities DO have to work harder than Super Arcade / Next Level type locations, but it’s still possible and requires a lot of work from those communities. It’s chicken or egg: do we cover a small community that will make people watch and go, “These guys suck. Why are these guys on front page?” and damaging your scene irreparably, or do you guys work hard, do damage at majors, and get to a point where people watch your events ’cause they say, “Dude, I wanna see BT | Angelic’s Shuma Gorath kick more ass!”?

      The communities have to do a lot more work than they like to admit. It’s easy to blame others, but there are lots of ways to help grow your local community. None of them are easy.

      • Yeah, I’m like a broken record in that regard. But, I feel it’s an important message to advocate simply because it encourages growth. Articles like these do not encourage growth. Neither does setting high standards for such a small community IMHO.

        You cannot simply go to a ledge and scream out, “CHANGE OR DIE” to the anonymous interwebs. Someone will send you a lolcat, laugh at you and continue doing what they have always been doing. As they have for a lot of other gaming communities as so many have already pointed out in the comments.

        Instead, I think sinking more effort into finding ways to expand the community–increase that reach is likely more effective. Simply because you’re taking action that can have a result outside of simply sitting on your hands preaching about the days when you walked barefoot in the snow for 10 miles just to get home from school.

        But, that’s just me. I see a sea of talented people just like you James. So much can be done that has not already been done. And I got to say, we are nearing the end of the road. I would hope that trying to change the online attitude is not all we have here. Because that’s an impossible task compared to reaching out to Joe Blow on the opposite end of the country to expand your community and grow stronger the right way.

        That again, is just me. Much respect to you and the others. I just have a vastly different opinion that’s a little more realistic than this.

        P.S

        Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion on my comment.

        • jchensor

          The thing is that this goal here is more of a “viral” approach. You can’t change the community realistically, but if you change a few people at a time, they can help change others and attract more people into the community. And if every individual community takes this to heart, it can only help said small community.

          So this article is doing exactly what you want it to do: to grow the small communities. A smaller community won’t grow if A) the small community is toxic. B) the people get into the community, do research to see the bigger picture, and the bigger picture sucks and is full of assholes.

          Again, you always ask that people reach out to the smaller communities. Lots of people have tried this already. Have you looked into The Show That Sucks? They are trying to do something similar to what we did on UltraChenTV a long time ago: get community information and talk about them on their show. So you might want to hit them up.

          Really, that’s the best we can do: mention that the scene exists. I’m not sure what else you’re hoping for. I doubt it’s financial support or guest appearances. And again, if your community is pointed out and people go and watch it and the level of play is substandard (not claiming yours is, this is just an example), with the way this community IS so toxic, that could be way more damaging than anything else. So, again, you can see where the calls to fix the toxicity are very important.

          Scene growth is the most important thing and we are all trying to do it. It’s not easy to say what the “right” way and the “wrong” way is, despite how adamant you are that you feel your idea is correct. I personally feel that the toxicity issue is a HUGE problem, maybe the biggest one we have right now, so it’s definitely something that NEEDS to be addressed, and it’s great that Pat has chosen to do so. So this feels like the right way to me.

          • Thanks for the response James.

            I disagree somewhat. I look at articles like these as impossible tasks to try and conform or encourage a minority share of a smaller subset of the overall community. It’s like splitting a piece of hair and then splitting it once more. What you end up with is a tiny slither of hair that no one can see and it’s too weak to stand on it’s own. Therefore, it just collapses, breaks and withers away.

            I understand it’s both inspiring and fun to talk about these topics, but the end result is likely not worth the effort. Mainly because the audience you’re realistically trying to target won’t change that easy. Then those that do change, are likely not in a position to impact the overall communities as much as you think. Even then, what small impacts they do make, are far more likely to not pass on what they’ve learned due to the horrible retention in every community, big or small.

            That said, at the end of the day, the community is still shrinking. What you or anyone else is doing is not really preventing that no matter how good you think you are. I feel that’s because we are too fragmented. It’s not really a global community, but a bunch of fragments, big and small, all over the world.

            I think identifying those fragments and piecing them together via community leaders just in the US alone would do a lot of good. But, you as well many others are too reclusive and set such high standards for some ungodly reason. So, you will continue to sink and continue to shrink until there is nothing left. But, at least you can still sit around your dark corners of the interwebs and talk about how you walked 10 miles barefoot in the snow just to get to school.

          • jchensor

            It’s the same goal, just done in different ways. Right now the thing that will help the FGC grow is getting more eyes on it. The bigger the audience you build, the more people become interested in joining. That gives us the ability to promote many of the smaller scenes and grow them. We’ve tried to promote them before, and in some causes it worked, but in most it didn’t really change much. 🙁 I’m speaking from actual experience. One particular group I shouted out repeatedly, and in the end the entire community disbanded despite my attempts at boosting it up. They have recently tried to make a recovery and build it back up, but the point remains: all my shouting out didn’t do enough to save it or grow it.

            It’s not being reclusive nor setting unrealistic standards. I don’t have anything against any particular scene and I’ll shout them out when I can. And as I said, I know The Show That Sucks is trying to put together a community page so that’s really cool. We should leverage that once they get it up. I know I will and already have helped promote it.

            And while you say the community is shrinking, we’re still getting record numbers at Evo every year. Right now the problem is that all of the games that are out seem to be having issues. And there are too many majors and event to watch. And yet most events that existed last year have posted record numbers this year. Getting over 10,000 before was something to brag about, now most streams for the larger events get there.

            But I tell you what, I’ll do what I can. Tweet me your events and some information, and I’ll Retweet them for you. I’ll try my best to help your scene in particular grow, see if I really CAN affect anything like that. My previous experience could have been an exception.

          • Well, I don’t think shout-outs is the way to go either. It helps, and it sure is puzzling why it’s so hard to get media attention from a community that is so close.

            What I’m talking about primarily is pulling people together. Heads of state called to action to represent a global alliance. Let those heads be your filter on what’s relevant and not relevant. And let those heads be your resources as everyone seems to be crying they are limited on resources.

            To me, the problem is not that complex. The more you piece those fragments together, the bigger your army grows. The bigger your army, the bigger your overall presence. When that happens, more people are promoting, more people are hearing, and hopefully the return is, more people watching and showing up.

            Why? Because you’re all apart of the same master plan and after the same goals–to grow and be heard. That way when something happens, it’s not a few people tweeting and their followers are re-tweeting. It’s a army of people hitting the digital streets and working together.

            However, if you continue to stay fragmented as you are today. Then the harder it’s going to be to reach that goal of “getting more eyes on it.”

            IMHO

          • jchensor

            Ahhhhhh, I gotcha. Okay, this one I don’t want to get into too much details. But I can tell you now that politics plays a heavy role here. There HAVE been attempts to unify things, to get heads of states to talk, but it’s not particularly easy, as many people have different motivations and such. It requires a governing body, which isn’t what the FGC is necessarily about, and requires everyone to see eye to eye. It’s pretty tough. The Fall Classic was a great start, though, unifying a lot of people.

            I guess the question is: at what level? At the macro level, it’s very difficult due to all these people with different motives and goals. At a micro level, where multiple smaller communities try to work together to create a larger, overall group, it might be possible. But again, that’s on the effort of the small communities, and I’m not sure what role something like SRK could play. You say you don’t think this article is particularly useful… what could be done instead?

          • SRK would play a vital role in management, recruitment and even providing the platform. If not them, then someone who has direct or good access to FGC media sites like SRK. Someone like you and any of the other bigger community heads out there today.

            It’s not easy of course, but I think it’s a great start. I mean, it shouldn’t be that complicated selecting heads of states and working together for sort of a set of bylaws, goals and etc. If it’s all clear from the start and a good system is in place to scale with growth or ability to change in time, then all would ideally go pretty well in the future.

            On the article, I’m just not big on unrealistic requests. Asking the competitive players to change their attitudes is something that can happen. Asking the anonymous internet to change their attitudes is another thing. Communities will always have filth and there is really not that much you can do to change that. Just have to deal with it as with any robust gaming community and push on. If people are leaving because it, then they are not likely cut out for this type of gaming in general.

            In my 7 years of managing large-scale communities for AAA titles, filth is a sign of growth. You do what you can to remove it, but at the end of the day, the interwebs will always be the interwebs.

          • jchensor

            Yeah, all I can say to this is that it SHOULDN’T be that complicated, but it is. Establishing a governing body for the FGC would be very difficult because no one will agree on whom to choose, let alone choose the people who will choose the leaders. Again, there are many people with VERY contrasting opinions, and a lot of people want different things. Forming one governing body will most likely result in another one or two governing bodies forming themselves to counter the one that was formed, and factions will be created, and the scene will splinter. It’s very dangerous right now because the FGC’s future is still so unknown and the path we take has MANY possibilities. If everyone sorta had the same vision, I would agree with your ideas. It’s just not the case.

          • Community votes on them and there shouldn’t be a problem.

  • caiooa

    i disagree with this article. You can’t generalize the actions of someone as the actions of a colective group. I don’t think the majority of fg players send hatemail after loosing or taunt after winning for example. It’s just a minority of imature people. And you probably can’t use reasoning to jam maturity in the head of those people. Actually this is much worse in mmos and mobas…

    • Yeah, the DotA community was likely the worst for soo long. I mean, they were the most vile community I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been in online gaming since the late 90’s with text-based MUD’s (before MMO’s). This is sort of like asking the DotA community to stop being vile. I think people have tried, but you can’t change anonymous immature players who are mad at the game or the world.

    • Mike Pureka

      Again with the “well, other communities are worse…” excuse. It’s not valid. Bad things are bad things regardless of whether other people do worse things or not.

      Is it a minority? Great. Do your part to shrink it. Call them out on it. Don’t do it yourself. Seize the moral high ground. But until you have that high ground, don’t expect anyone to believe you when you say “No really, we’re nice!”

      • Guest

        You obviously don’t play games. Calling a troll out in online gaming is like arguing with a brick wall.

        • Unemployment Master

          How can someone be so ignorant and make the assumption you make here?

        • Mike Pureka

          Because everyone who does these things is OBVIOUSLY an anonymous troll and you have never, EVER met anyone who has said mean things on the Internet, ever.
          Okay.

        • RedRickDias

          It might be pointless to confront the troll themselves, but you can change the environment. Stepping up enforcement, rewarding good behavior… these can go a long way.

  • I really enjoyed reading this article. I hate that the bad outweigh the good when it comes to promoting or bettering the community. It seems like in any community the person is out for themselves and thats really a terrible mindset. Should we hate on each other because a person plays a certain way or used cheap tactics to win? We should be learning to come together as a family and just play nice no matter who wins or lose. All Gaming Communities have this same issue its just most of the gamers mentality and age when they get older they will see the error of their ways.

  • MasterChibi

    You know I’m going to shake my angry cane and wobble my rocking chair when I say this but all this stuff about our scene being toxic has only become a problem (at least to mine own withered eyes) post SF4.

    I went to two different arcades pre SF4, one in Port Authority in NYC, the other the very Chinatown Fair itself. Both had Meanerics. Hell, Chris G was at times the Meaneric himself at CF. I learned and played every game I could in the past ten years, CvS2, 3S, SFA3, RF2, the list goes on and on. Most of the time CF was also home to some of THE craziest MvC2 ‘casuals’ I’ve ever seen, and there was nothing more than 50 cents on the line. I went to tournaments up and down the east coast too, I took in all of that and I don’t ONCE remember the word toxic ever popping up into the conversation about the community. We were all worried about the scene drying then imploding.

    I mean I don’t want to point my fingers at the new crew because I don’t actually put the new above the old or vice versa but there is a GIGANTIC portion of us as the ‘FGC’ that is likely addressed to that will never read this article, never go to a tournament, or never sample the passion of what it REALLY means to be in the FGC, and yet still be there with pitchforks at the ready when one of us messes up.

    And for the record I acknowledge that some behavioral nuances we have could use some cleaning up, but this toxicity didn’t come from within, I know that much.

    • CptPokerface

      Well SF4 was largely part of bringing the FGC online, and with that it brings a huge influx of new players, good and bad. The scene itself is also much bigger now, so everything is seen in bigger parts, but rarely have people seen the entire community as a whole. Some people have had a majority of good experiences with some bad, and some have a majority of bad experiences with some good.

      I think the problem now isn’t so much about worrying if the scene is drying out or dying, but rather on how to get some stronger cohesion within the community. It’s harder to deal with negativity alone than it is with a group of others backing you up.

      • MasterChibi

        No no you misread. Prior to SF4 our only REAL concern was the scene dying outright. Also the cohesion has only become less likely now since we’ve had an influx of new players. I honestly think using the term FGC is improper because in reality (and I mean this in the most realistic, blunt form of the word) it’s only referring to the crowds playing SF4 and UMvC3. We’re more of a collective then a community, plenty of other titles in the genre tend to be ignored or left out in such matters 😛

        • CptPokerface

          Yeah that’s unfortunately true..

          I do like capcom fighters but sometimes I wonder what would happen if they took a hiatus on fighters for another few years. Would other games get more exposure? Will this really become closer to the community image as it should be? I sure hope so.

          • shoyusatsu999

            EVO’s generally a good indicator for community health, so in that sense… no way. Capcom fighters still dominated EVO during the hiatus, so I think they’ll dominate the FGC until either Capcom dies (which, admittedly, may be likely) or the EVO staff deliberately attempts to change that status quo, and as the status quo seems to net the most cash and players, the latter isn’t gonna happen anytime soon.

            Probably something for a forum topic, though.

    • windsagio

      Funnily, my experience is the exact opposite. After SF4, or speicfically after Ponder and Inkblot told all the people to SFTU about how much the ’09’ers sucked, the level of discourse improved a lot.

  • Garrett Jones

    That CvS2 pic posted with the article supports rape culture. Chun-Li is practically naked and is center-stage, this promotional image is clearly used to draw more men to the scene and scare away women. Capcom is notorious for exploiting women’s sexuality for the sake of sales.

    Do us a favor and don’t support rape culture. Don’t play Capcom games.

  • TehTy

    Most of the negativity that I’ve noticed in the community is almost completely online. Whenever I go to arcades and meet up and play with people in person, people are usually nice, throw out some advice or at least give me a good game. I’ve ony run into anyone that I would label as assholes I would moreso label as “salty as hell.” I played against this great Oni at Super Arcade and he scoffed at me whenever I played anyone who would be seen as high tier, like Sagat or Seth, but when I beat him with T.Hawk and told him good game he would just say something like “If I focused that sweep I would have won” or when I said good game he would say “Hardly.” The only other time was a guy who complained that the PS3’s were lagging at EVO. The only time I have seen any negativity worth noting outside of those two events is all online.

  • Psylocke Mage

    For those looking for suggestions. The answer is quite simple. If it’s true that it’s only the vocal minority of players putting down the fighting game community, then all we need to do is be a more supportive vocal majority.

    I recently started getting into Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers and it’s a vastly different community. I was playing against people that had probably years of TCG experience and getting my butt handed to me, but even though I lost consistently I never was really made to feel like I should quit.

    The majority of the community was actually very supportive. After the games I would be told GG. And this was an opportunity to explain to them that I was a new player, and they would always give me hints on how to improve, they would always tell me to keep playing, and how fun Magic was at the higher levels. These guys really loved the game, and they especially loved new players.

    So the solution is simple, if you do love fighting games and you do love seeing new players then you have to be vocal about it. I myself have been guilty of not saying GG when playing online, and now I see that I need to change my ways for the benefit of the community.

    Like the article says, if someone has been nice to you online, you gotta pay it forward.

    • _Narayan_

      Sounds like Magic community is more or less the same than strategy games
      in general (Paradox’s games, 4X, and so on), and this is the only games
      I’ve dared to play online these last years with people other than friends
      because yes, it’s way more mature than any other gaming community.

      Usually people are older and so happy that newcomers get interested in
      these games that they do everything to make you feel comfortable and
      keep on playing and especially, improving. Because in the end, it’s
      beneficial for everyone, players and devs/editors alike. In fact, it’s
      just common sense to act this way.

  • SSS

    Cry more, bitch nigga

  • Rahavic

    “To me, it looks like we’ve gotten really good at Punishing Mistakes — just like we practice in fighting games — but we’re not really that good at helping each other improve. ”

    ^ This was very well said here, and stood out to me the most in the article. Well done, and good read.

  • Grant Larson

    I’ve always told my friends on Xbox LIVE and in other areas of gaming to always remember that once upon a time, they were noobs too. Glad to see that other people remember that as well.

    Good read, Patrick. It’s a shame I didn’t know about your column/blog/whathaveyou until I saw this article. You’re an intelligent, articulate person. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

  • SavingPrincess

    We got nothin’ on the MOBA/MMO-PVP community.

    • RedRickDias

      Well, that may be true… but let’s not settle for “Hey, we’re not THOSE guys.” We can do way better than that!

  • Cristopher Vidor

    A new game come in Japan: all fighting game players play to decide who is the best fighting game player overall in a brand new game.

    People compete, people test, people check if it’s a competitive and fun game. People keep playing or not accordingly.

    A new game come in US: all “””fighting game players””” hate on the game even when it’s being loketested and say how it’s a cheap copy of another game.
    People don’t compete, people don’t test, people decide what will be played (Capcom) and what will not (not Capcom), people complain about how Japan plays different games.

  • RedRickDias

    I’d been considering writing something similar to this… but you beat me to it and probably did so in better detail. Very nice! Lots of good stuff to reply to, so bear with me…

    Side Topic – KOF 13 Story Mode (regarding the blog post linked to in the article): Bringing up KOF 13’s story is legitimate for a few reasons. The one we’d care about most is that you HAVE to go through it to unlock Billy and Saiki for play. The next one is a general thing: Reviewers are generally required to try every aspect of a game they can reasonably access within the time allowed to do the article. Story Mode is there, it’s not hard to get to, and it’s non-trivial content for a general gaming audience. Thus the writer had to do it.

    Now to get back on to the real matter… I agree with most of the points you’ve brought up, but I think we’ve begun to make some progress. There are some really cool people in the community, ones who do help out, who don’t have an attitude, who don’t troll new players who are legitimately trying to learn… who honestly want our hobby to keep growing! We should continue to put them in the spotlight, to show people “Here is an awesome player and a credit to the community!” Let’s celebrate our tournament organizers, the players who share info, who give insightful interviews… and let’s keep reaching out to people. You’ve done a lot of that in this article, and we should continue with it.

    Love and respect are powerful messages. They could easily become our most valuable tools. Imagine what would happen if everyone learned that fighting games (and broadcasts thereof) aren’t a turf war. That it’s totally okay for the broadcaster to take a short break from Marvel to show Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. Or Persona 4 Arena. Or BlazBlue, or whatever other game you want to name that isn’t SF/Marvel, because your game of choice will still be there and still have players even if some other title gets some screen time. What if everyone respected high level players regardless of which game(s) they excel in, and enjoyed the variety these other titles bring to a tournament while still watching SF/Marvel too? What if everyone respected players who are sincerely trying to improve? This would be amazing.

    This sort of culture change can also be done on stream chats. It’s going to be a lot of work; right now they’re dominated by hundreds to thousands of repetitive stream monsters who drown out any decent conversation. We can take them back, though. If we made a concerted effort to get good people on the streams having meaningful discussions about what’s being shown… that would be a good start. Moderators will help a little too, but their moderation tools are inadequate to deal with the sheer number of ‘monsters’ to get rid of (many of whom can get around a ban with just a few minutes effort, I believe?). Still, if they can thin out the herd even a little it will help improve the ‘signal to noise ratio.’ Right now, the alternative is simply clicking Hide Chat the second you bring the stream up and that’s not fun.

    Also, there has been some concern on how the general gaming media (and public) deals with us. It should be noted that part of our stigma comes from how we handled certain controversies… a lot of the responses they got were NOT what they wanted to hear. What they wanted was something like “Oh dear… that does look like a serious issue, doesn’t it? We’re going to investigate this, and if things really went down the way you say it did then we’ll take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This WILL get resolved!” Instead, they heard a lot of dismissive replies and even blatant topic-changing without addressing their concern. Nobody likes that, and they didn’t understand that we’re not used to public attention in the first place nor to presenting some kind of unified response when we tend to be pretty individualist and decentralized.

    To put that more plainly, they came to us with “You guys look pretty evil. Are you?” And what they saw LOOKED like, to them, “Yup, and we’re proud of it! Survival of the fittest here, and if you can’t deal with the insults then don’t sign up! And this is the lighter, gentler version of what we used to be; we were even worse in arcades!” The ensuing media field day… well, I’m sure we all remember it. If we care about how the media and public see us, then we’ll need to learn how to respond to them better when controversies come up. Otherwise they’ll gladly take the worst possible narrative and run with it, because that drives sensational headlines and brings in a lot of readers.

    There’s also something to be said for turning mockery into something playful and lighthearted. One of my favorite examples is the player RunningWild, who regularly posts videos of mistakes he and his friends make. These are usually things like accidentally breaking a stage barrier and defeating themselves in some of the older Fatal Fury games, which is pretty embarrassing! Yet he controls the narrative, splicing in funny music and jokes to accompany the mistakes. He makes it clear that it’s okay to laugh at him so long as you learn from it; he’s laughing at himself too. Whether he intended to do this exact thing or not, the end result is he turns vicious remarks into humor amongst friends and an audience that is in on the joke.

    That said, we’re making progress. Even if it’s one heart at a time, let’s continue to be respectful to others (even over the internet), learn how to share stream time with a variety of games, and otherwise keep this trend up. We might not turn into Mr. Rogers’ Fighting Game Tournament Neighborhood, but that’s okay. We can have fun while still being nice to others.

    P.S.: On a lighter note, I wanted to nod to Rol. Love your username and avatar, shout-outs to 80s giant robot sci-fi!

  • Jt Gleason

    One area of blame for the poor online interaction is the game developers themselves. Dota and League both have systems where if you are an asshole, you can be removed from the normal game interactions with other players due to your hostility (or even banned from the game forever). Hopefully, the game developers will recognize that they need to provide some tooling so that negative online interactions have a feedback loop that punishes the user (given enough consistent complaints against them).

    On the Twitch side, the broadcaster should assign more mods and have them punish the bad members of the community harder with timeouts and bans. We provide tools for you to help moderate the community and I think that we’ve all see what happens on a stream when the mods start handing out bans.

    If the developer cares about their brand, they should care about the way people interact with each other online. It won’t be a 100% solution, but any enforcement will cause changes in peoples behaviors. Sadly, the actual community doesn’t have much say in how these games are coded so we are left with voting with our dollars for games that actually find a way of fostering community.

    • $18114340

      The reason why Dota 2 and League can justify punishment systems is because of their nature as free-to-play titles. It’s more of an attempt to carefully manage the huge influx of new players on a regular basis and nip problems in the bud. Maybe if fighting games were primarily free-to-play and had an issue with population control a similar solution would work, but otherwise I don’t think it’s really applicable. It also doesn’t help that most fighting games rely on Sony and Microsoft’s player networks rather than networks that the developers have direct control over, and as a result the technical ramifications behind singling out specific players for reprimanding action may be difficult if not incredibly impractical.

      It’s worth noting that despite the measures that their respective developers have taken, Dota and LoL are still both notorious for having terrible communities. The reality is that every single online game suffers from this problem, not just fighting games, and as such preaching to the choir will do little to solve problems in the short term. On the other hand, I do agree that the game developers and broadcasting companies such as Twitch should be more involved with their respective communities, but considering that fighting games are still primarily a genre tailored for the environment of the Japanese arcade, this is probably more difficult than it would be for any other kind of game.

      Fighting games being an intensely personal type of game that require significant investment to play properly can have something to do with it, too. Even if you suck at Dota or LoL (or to bring in an analogue I feel is appropriate, online first-person shooters), you can forget about certain disagreeable individuals from game to game, and after a match you might never even see the same players ever again. Your sole interaction with other people in most of those games is through a computer screen, and unless you’re playing in tournaments you won’t be in the physical proximity of those you play against.

      Given that fighting game communities are smaller, more localized, and more tightly-concentrated, it’s not only vastly more difficult to break into a scene but to also find a reason to stick with the game if the people around you just aren’t working out for you.

      • Jt Gleason

        Thanks for the reply!

        I do agree that some fundamental differences exist between the communities. But that’s all the more reason for the game developers to think very clearly and deeply about the sort of online interaction that they are subjecting their users to. And staying on Windows Live for Games (a service that will be removed) means that they are going to have to start doing that online account and network work themselves. (A good thing from community side, a bad thing probably for their balance sheet) I’m just saying that we need to rely on the devs and unfortunately our influence as a community there is not the best. (Though that is getting much better these days)

        I personally prefer being in an arcade next to a person fighting it out. Meaneric Syndrome is fairly easy to break down with a joke or two. And when you are on a roll against Meaneric types, watching them squirm is pretty awesome.

        But the fact is that most of the community interaction with fighting games has moved on to the internet. The vast majority of connections happen there and the vast majority of games are there. I’m just hoping that the developers take note of this new (if lesser) reality and devote some resources to it.

        Thanks!

  • Pertho14

    I must some hilariously lucky person because most of my interactions with the community have been positive. Sure there were some assholes, but the problem has less to do with the amount of assholes and more to do with the ratio of assholes to good peeps.

    If you have 15 people playing and 1 of them is a huge asshole, it sucks but not that big a deal.

    If you have 6 people and 1 of them is a huge asshole, then we do have a problem. So the issue isn’t so much that we have a lot of assholes, it’s just a generally small community where even a small voice echoes loudly.

    There are some other issues (from big to small) that I could list but fuck it. It would just be a comment on an article which means much of nothing in the long run.

  • Le Sun

    truf

  • OtoriGolden

    “Tone matters.”
    Hey, don’t tone police me!

  • Mash Harder

    “Death threats don’t help anyone.” — Patrick Miller

    The problem I see is that anyone who would bother to read this column in its entirety is unlikely to be the one of the crazies it attempts to persuade. You would have to shorten it to around 150 characters to get your point across.

    That PA article was trash though. Normally I would stick around and read a few more of what are generally well written, amusing and informative articles. but all I could do was SMH and close tab.

    • Patrick Miller

      I think the Twitter-friendly version is:

      “Stop being such an asshole and be nice to people you play video games with, because someday you’ll be the old guy who’s tired of this shit.”

      139 characters without the quotation marks!

      And yeah, that PA article was really bad. Certainly worth calling out.

  • TS

    As others have noted, the community offline tends to have elements of an actual community, whereas the community online is something different.

    Also, there seems to be an assumption by the author here and by others that this “toxic” aspect is something inherent to the scene, and I’m not sure we can jump to that conclusion- we’ve all met a “Meaneric” and/or been one, but that’s an entirely different animal than some of the people you find online (in this case- not sociable vs actively antisocial).

    It seems to me that a huge part of the problem is that we’ve a generation of people in general who aren’t used to having strictly offline interaction, but are not yet sophisticated enough to think of the people they’re talking to as actual people. So the online douche behavior is, at this point, a rite of passage. And that sort of behavior- stream chats, Twitter threats, dum-dum comments and salty messages after a loss or a win that was too close for someone’s ego etc- is really what we’re talking about, isn’t it?

    As arcades have died, arcade culture has died, and part of that was the community aspect (though local tournament scenes are a good substitute). Likewise, as the Internet has become ubiquitous, aspects of online culture have crept into fighting games.

    • windsagio

      I tend to think, it’s especially inherent to *ONE* scene, it’s just that’s the scene that ended up being powerful and everyone emulated.

      Playing online is awful in any game, that goes without saying. What IS worth saying is how much better the community has gotten overall, since SF4 starting bringing so many more people into (or back into) the community.

  • Thomas Manson

    This is truth. I’ve been saying this forever.

    What will we learn from it?

  • allytronic

    It doesn’t help when the most popular fighting games right now (SF4 and MvC3) seem to be specifically designed to encourage trolling, which serves no purpose other than piss people off and fuel the negativity. No good can come from allowing the winner to taunt the loser when the match is already over, in a game where there’s already plenty of aggravating stuff happening DURING the match.

    Fighting games, by design, bring out the worst in people. Your success means the other player’s failure, when you win you’re having fun to the detriment of the other person. If you add trolling and anonymity to that, you have a recipe for hostility.

    There’s also the issue of top players not being exactly good examples to be followed. Wasn’t the term “pot monster” invented by a certain well known top player? And what about F. Champ teabagging people on the main stage at EVO, of all places? Nice example he’s giving to the stream monsters out there.

    Fuck being nice, humans are a lost cause and gaming communities are simply a reflection of that.

  • Darklurkr23

    God I’m the resident King at my college, the entire game room is obsessed w/ BRAWL thinking tha’t sa real fighting game. I’ve been trying to change their minds for over a year now w/ MK9, SF4, UMVC3, injustice, skullgirls, any 2d recent fighter u name it. No improvements, nothing. ONE guy knows ONE combo with SCorpion. THe rest and every person “can i play” just MASH. MASH. MASH. I’ve said “stop mashing learn a move and combo you’ll have much more fun”. NOOO DERRR I JUST MASH.

    I’m F***king tired of it. And I’d say Im probably about a 6/10 at all fighters, But these people are just hopeless. How do you live 18-25 years and you’ve never Played let alone HEARD of STREET FIGHTER? STREEEET FIGHTERRRRR?

    • TwilightInZero

      Brawl’s a perfectly legitimate game despite its anti-competitive mechanics. You’re not going to “change their minds” when your entire motivation is this condescending mindset of “Brawl isn’t a real fighter” and “you’re not actually playing if you mash learn a combo” and “how do you not know Street Fighter”. That’s part of the problem. If you think that their ignorance of better fighting game technique is a problem, your condescension toward that ignorance is exacerbating the problem terribly and creating more problems in and of itself.

    • PJ

      This is another perfect example of what’s wrong with the fgc today. People like this guy and his egotistical elitist attitude. “Your game isn’t a fighting game, you should be playing this one” instead of actually helping the apparent community in his area he’s literally trying to sabotage it because of his own opinions.
      Grow the fuck up. Twilight also said the same thing quite elegantly. I should thank you though for pretty much spot on proving the “age and immaturity in the fgc” arguments most have made here with your ignorant rantings. (and for the record I don’t like smash at all before you label me a typical fanboy as people like you are wont to do)

      in fact I like to keep this here comic handy just for people like you Dark because this is exactly what you remind me of whenever someone starts this “my game” bullshit. Enjoy your wattle.

      http://www.vgcats.com/comics/images/050404.jpg

    • Darklurkr23

      I love it how both of you don’t bring up the 1/2 of what i’m saying though how nobody wants to learn. You can’t just play 1 thing 24/7 and never branch out.

  • Dubsys

    Toxic is another one of those stupid made up league of legends terms.

  • Steven

    The answer lies in the heart of battle

  • windsagio

    The funny thing to me is, it’s gotten a hundred times better in the last several years.

  • Jose Emmanuel Argao

    Things have gotten a lot better recently, but they’re still pretty bad compared to other communities for other competitive games. I think it’s just the the competitive fighting game circuit is pretty young. There’s too much focus on outward, physical excitement (hype). When you watch the streams for more mature competitive games (ie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Skq0vtZ_ymA) it really puts stuff like Evo to shame. I think we’re about five years away from that kind of maturity, though.

  • trollingroll

    i dunno sometimes it seems like the FGC borders on LoL

  • heatEXTEND

    You can’t blame the FGC for the internet.

    Wanna see a toxic community ? Go play call of duty online lol.

  • PJ

    I have to say just the types of responses seen here already give me hope that the fgc is maturing somewhat. Again I have to say, it’s main problem is it just really needs to grow the hell up. But that’s coming from someone who’s now 40 and grew up at the 8 on the Break arcade and it’s weekly sf2 tourneys. And I had to walk 10 miles to get there, uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow while having to fend off wild bears with a sock full of quarters.

    It’s weird to see how much has changed though with the advent of internet play, specially after taking an almost 10-year break from fighters then coming back into the scene. Hell, kids today don’t even know how to use the word ‘scrub” properly anymore… *shakes cane.

  • Azrael VG

    Funny .This article comes from the same guy that wrote Return of the Dominator Seth Killian Revisits… and others like Fighting Game Mastery Review,

    On the forums/website side of the FGC. Lets not pretend that the website authors aren’t to blame also for the tension on FGC forums. Look at how Shoryuken.com decides to re-publish those “return of the Dominator Articles” by Seth Killian. The article themselves seems to be written by someone like this Eric you described but with more arrogance and insults. We like to blame the forums posters but some of the articles here are downright insulting and deserves the responses. And the idea to republish them just reinforces and justifies the attitudes of people who act like assholes. To add to that this author decides to write a review of the old Dominaton articles ,justifying their legitimacy as to help propel their popularity. It strangely seems to even be necessary to quote Seth in this article.The review reinforces the original articles with a small downplay on the attitude in which it was written. The articles should have just been left to die an old age and new ones like this ones from a more positive attitude would have arisen to be its replacement.
    Similarly in another part of the FGC. We like to call the stream chat posters “stream monsters” when they are out of line.But the commentator are on the stream making the most dumb, unrelated and opinionated statements and somehow do not expect dumb and rude responses. The commentators takes the opportunity to impress on us their take on the FGC and their favoritism and in some strange way they do not expect a response. James Chen for example is a great commentator he talks about the match , tries to be informative and laughs off the dumb stuff. Mr. Chen is not there going on about how good one player is and that he just deserves to win or not taking the opportunity to make the stream into a podcast about what they think about players and issues. If a commentator really needs to vent make a podcast or youtube channel and see if anyone cares.
    Another think I think is going in the wrong direction is paid guides.It was disappointing to see the author trowing support behind paying for guides when he wrote the review of Fighting Game Mastery by Filipino Champ. One of the greatest things to happen to fighting games is the availability of media like youtube videos and forum guides. If the trend now shifts to paid guides then the newer players would just suffer and get turned away. I think that betters players should make an attempt to make create better guides if the really care about the newer players. I am sure, for example, Air could have made that Ryu guide without cross counter so could Filipino Champ have made his Mastery Guide by himself for the sake of the community . Instead we have paid guides that few would see because someone need to make money.
    This article seems well intentioned but I do not see much help coming from the pro players.Pro players, like this Eric seems to be aspiring towards, don’t care whether you get good or not. They like to beat you for practice. Look at how stuff like unblocables were dominating so much tournaments and it took so long for counter strategies to be available. Newer player, I am sure up to today, are being dominated by this awesome technology of unblockables that the pro player Einstein cooked up in his lab next to the wmd. It was interesting to see Latif post a youtube video about how to beat some unblockables but at the same time he thought it was fun to get vortexed by viper and offer no help in the department to counter viper burn kick vortex. It was at later tournaments that you would see the crlk whif counters and such to burnkicks. Where I am going with this is that pro players are like Eric and their focus is on winning not make their opponents better.

    I personally think that everyone has their own agenda and blaming one over the other is just misguided. Authors need to write in support of their beliefs, the commentators need to use the steam as their own CNN, those out for FGC money need to make that dough, the pro players need to win and us posters need to speak our minds.

  • Capane.us

    As a total newb to the genre, I can attest to some of this. I made mistakes on the forums, which I take full credit for. I can be a clumsy idiot. But in my opinion it was met with disproportionate vitriol. Some forums actually require an introduction thread, but that’s not really how it’s done on shoryuken. Within minutes I was told “No one gives a f*** who you are. GTFO.” Like I said though, I made a mistake, and I’m not shifting blame, the thread was quickly closed by a moderator who handled it properly. I’ve been on all manner gaming community forums, but I’ve never had that “warm” of a welcome.

  • Garrett Jones

    Why did my comment get deleted? Is this communist China?

  • MrToffee

    GS did a few good fighting game vids: here’s one for example – http://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-fighting-game-community-on-reputation-and-main/2300-6411103/

  • Peter Locke

    One time i was at ebgames and an employee made fun of me for using throws in Street Fighter X Tekken. Then he blocked the screen on purpose with a big grin, then he trash talked me. I wasn’t even playing against him, i was playing against my fighting buddy Pantoozler. i guess what i’m trying to illustrate is that a lot of the problem with the fgc is just immaturity. if we can just stop being trolls all the time that would do a lot of good.