Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spinning Around (With Hurricane Kicks)

Only on a "Gaymer" blog can I truly not be ashamed of my love for Kylie.

While Kylie is the be-all and end-all of my life (after Mele, of course!), video games predate her in my autobiography. I'd like to take a cue from Luke and give a little background for my strange relationship with electronic gaming, because, after all, it's played a rather large role in my life considering I wasn't allowed to play any as a child. (Spending a couple years as a video game tester is just a tad ironic.)

Growing up, I did play video games on occasion, and I have good memories of playing Millipede on my next-door neighbor's cabinet, or watching David play Mario 64. As a culture, however, gaming didn't enter the picture until Josh moved in across the street during middle school. Josh, who owned video games galore, was such a VG-geek that his skill level in any game on any console was astronomically better than mine. We played often, I lost every time, and I never improved. It was an interesting dynamic for me, who, at that age, had consistently qualified at the upper echelons in academics and athletics.

I don't want to suggest that I'm the most humble person in the world in my adulthood, but I believe that playing against Josh in numerous video games taught me some humility. I believe it introduced me to the culture of losing, how to deal with it, and how to become comfortable with people talking smack. I feel like this is a positive impact on my life.

You'd think I'd play Cammy.

While I was getting my name in newspapers for my achievements on the baseball diamond, the most monumental of accomplishments, in my mind, was that one-of-a-hundredth time that I'd defeat Josh in a game of Street Fighter Alpha 2 or King of Fighters 98. Looking back on it, maybe Dan wasn't my best choice in character, and I know that in my button-mashing days, those small victories were simple probability, not a learning process. Sooner or later, I'd mash Roundhouse at all the right times. Hell, in those days, I was unable to make Ryu do a hadouken. Down-Forward Punch was outside of my talent level.

(I think Kylie would have made a good King in a KOF movie.)

When the Sega worked, we played Street Fighter 2 instead. The problem with (and the greatest part about) SF2 was that shitty turbo Sega controller with the awful D-Pad. Eventually, if the Sega lasted long enough, we'd give up on trying to play with that shitty controller, turn the Turbo on, press START, and multiply the experience by a factor of funfinity. In essence, a turbo-pressed START button is slow motion with an irritation sound effect, and there is nothing harder on the nerves or more laugh-out-loud funny than slow motion Street Fighter.

That, plus Pilot Wings, Aerobiz Supersonic and Warcraft/Diablo II, pretty much sums up video games in the first 18 years of my life.

Kylie would not make a good Makoto.

In college I started playing Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. The reasons for this hover somewhere between "That's what my friends did", "I miss playing competitive sports" and "I'm a huge geek already anyways". Endless drunken conversations over Skype with Josh have covered the topic of Why Sports Are Good For You And Why The Same Goes For Street Fighter, and in the end I can sum that conversation up with saying, "Uh, kinda," but I think it's fair to say Street Fighter, in some small way, did replace baseball in my life, at least in regards to casual competition.

I was still awful at Street Fighter 3S, but this time I improved, and even though I never became competitive with the BEARcade's regulars, mostly because my execution of special moves continued to resemble button-mashing, I really wasn't that bad. I even went so far as practicing my finger-eye coordination, something I had found so ridiculous when I first watched my roommate train himself to do combos against a motionless AI dummy.

It's telling that, when I graduated, I started playing baseball again, because nobody in LA at the time played video games. It's telling that, once Ian and Alex moved in and Smash Bros became a regular activity, I no longer felt like I needed to play baseball anymore. It's telling that, when I moved to San Diego and pretty much stopped playing video games whatsoever, I joined an indoor soccer league, and it's telling that, in San Francisco, now that I no longer feel physically up to playing sports, I've begun to play Street Fighter 4.

Kylie as Rose? Hmm...

After a couple years of video game testing, and of getting my ass kicked by Alex in Smash, I think I'm actually capable of becoming better at Street Fighter 4 than I ever was in Third Strike, assuming I put in the time. We'll see. If I do, I hope to write a review of the game here in the near future.


  1. I'm similar in that I always need some sort of strategic/competitive outlet as well. For me, Magic fulfills that 90% of the time. During the times I'm not playing Magic, I'm like playing Smash competitively or playing through some other intense RPG like Fire Emblem or Monster Hunter. I'm never doing both at the same time.

    Also Kylie as Rose is amazing.

  2. I would like to multiply everything by funfinity.

    Also I'm curious as to how you trained your hand-eye coordination. I generally am stuck in the "button-mashing" stage of most fighting/combat video games, and I feel that I might benefit from your wisdom.