United We Sorta Stand, Kinda: Why the FGC is ultimately stronger together.
By Phil “Geodude” Nolan
We’re a few months removed from LIJoe hugging his Dad on ESPN2 and melting the hearts of sporty dads everywhere in a huge crossover moment for fighting games. It’s pretty appropriate that SFV is the casual’s point of entry into the FGC, and it’s good news for everyone: the floodgates are open, and every brand with a shred of common sense is bandwagoning onto esports one and all.
Which brings us to the issue at hand: Should the FGC splinter, trying to grow wholly independent and dedicated scenes for each game, or hold more events like EVO that bring us together and maximize prime-time exposure? I think moving more towards unity is going to put everyone on the map.
Two things are clear with events like East Coast Throwdown, SoCal Regionals, and ESL New York. One: TO’s listen to a lot of hardcore punk, and two: there’s room in these regionals and majors for so many different games.
EVO 2016 was a pivotal moment for every game lucky enough to make the list, despite the apparent jank and grime of scheduling, logistics, and partnerships. A year from now, D1’s hotel room full of bugs and Sm4sh’s egregious stream accomodations will be sighed/laughed at, and everyone will remember the Mandalay Bay Arena as a major breakout moment for everyone who plays a fighting game.
I think everyone sees now that it’s as important for the FGC to come together sometimes as it is to have dedicated nationals for each game the rest of the time. For the silent core of the FGC, the thousands of competitors who won’t make top 8, but still show up to everything, game-specific tourneys like Smash’s Big House and Capcom’s Pro Tour events are truly crucial to pushing a game’s competitive standards and farming up new talent.
The top-player camaraderie that EVO created is the most promising argument I can make for true unity. Smash players are trying to learn Street Fighter and vice versa. You see bigger game’s stars speaking up for the less celebrated ones like Mortal Kombat and Guilty Gear. If the growth goal of the FGC is to have as many players playing as many games as possible, this might be the powder keg the community needs.
A moment, if you will: Imagine how many more people would watch and support OIympic Handball if Lebron James learned it in the offseason and showed up to single-handedly run train. Now, imagine if Daigo got bit by the Melee bug and picked up Fox. Twitter would literally melt.
SonicFox’s Fang had a huge crossover crowd from MKX cheering for him at EVO. A lot of those MKX players also entered SFV. Is that enough acronyms for you? I’m so sorry.
What I’m trying to say is that while we need to nurture every scene’s individual wants and needs, that’s the part of this system that appears to be healthy and thriving. The part of the FGC that seems a lot more contentious and chaotic is the intermingling of opinions and outlooks of one community on another.
I have a feeling, and a hope, that debates about things like VIP areas, coaching, setup counts, and stream orders are all really just growing pains for a plethora of scenes that are growing closer and stronger, not further apart.
Sidear: someone please teach me how to play Cammy.