The self fulfilling prophecy of the Street Fighter scene


This is going to be a long read and I’m sure it’s going to scare away a lot of people, but I think that for many of you (especially among SFV players) the article is going to hit very close to home, and you may find it insightful, so please try to bear with it.

Why do we choose to play a specific fighting game?

There are many games out there and each player is constantly required to make a choice of which games to play and invest in the most, if at all.

Here’s a list of many possible reasons I can think of:

*I really like the mechanics and the pace of the game.
*I enjoy looking at the beautiful graphics and art style.
*I really like the characters.
*I have nostalgic memories of the TV show the game is based about.
*I find one of the characters sexually attractive.
*The online netcode is great so I can play with my friend who lives far away.
*I have a local scene for the game and it’s fun to have access to many different rivals and matchups.
*The level of the local competition is the best for this game so I can enjoy it at high level.
*I like watching top players play at big events with crowd cheering and reading jokes in the stream chat.
*I like the feeling of being a part of something bigger than me, a feeling that only a big enough scene can provide.
*I’m getting more opportunities to improve my status as a player/commentator/content creator etc. by targeting my efforts towards a popular game.

None of these reasons are “right” or “wrong”, and for every player it’s a complex combination of many such factors. No matter who you are, you can see that I can understand where you may be coming from. I even made a video about compromising and getting the most out of your current situation:

Stormy clouds in the land of Street Fighter V

Lately there has been a trend to be extremely vocal about SFV having problems, even among the game’s most dedicated players. I posted an elaborate response (
to Core-A-Gaming’s popular SFV criticism video not in order to actually defend SFV itself, nor to try to belittle Gerald (Core-A-Gaming) and the people who voiced their opinions in that video in any way (If some of the phrasing I used was seen as harsh then I apologize. Please don’t take it the wrong way.)

I simply wanted to address what I saw as flawed reasoning Gerald and others used, to go from SFV’s unfortunate “sum of whole parts” situation, to attacking easier execution as a whole, and attacking the requirement to predict the opponent as a whole. I see these two things as good qualities in the genre, when executed correctly.

I do think that video is extremely important though. Not for the reasoning given in it, but because of its sentiment. People feel that something is wrong with the game and that needs to change. This video started this open conversation on a much bigger scale than before.

I’m gotten a wide variety of interesting responses to my own article. Some people agreed with some of my claims and disagreed with others. Some thought both I and the video were wrong. Some used my article to help define their personal positions better, just like how I used Gerald’s video to define my own position. Improving the conversation to be more  accurate and refined is never a bad thing, and the important discussion about SFV is still continuing as we speak.

If you are unhappy with the game, then take action

So we currently witness a weird situation where the biggest community among all fighting games contains a lot of players who are unhappy with the current state of its game. Let’s delve a bit deeper into this:

Among SFV players, some really love the game no matter what, some love SFV but are extremely displeased with specific aspects in it, and some just need their Street Fighter fix.

But more so than in scenes of less popular fighting games, you find many players who place community size benefits on a very high priority, and this urges them to tolerate the game having problems and being less fun, in situations others would have moved on already.

SFV is not different from SFIV in that regard, but now the scene is even bigger, so there’s more to lose by being out of the loop, and more reasons to force yourself to tolerate the lack of enjoyment. The result is that we see people keep playing and following the game, but constantly moan and complain while at it.

I understand that community size is very important, and allows to achieve bigger, better things, but there are situations where a bigger group ends up achieving less than a sole individual. Here are two examples:

Example #1, Tragedy of the commons:
If this yard belongs to me only, of course I’ll pick up garbage from it when I see it and keep it clean. But if this yard belongs to everyone, and I don’t see anyone else picking up the garbage, then why should I be the sucker to pick it up? Then no one wants to be that lone sucker and the result is that nothing gets done and we end up with a filthy yard.

Example #2, Bystander effect:
Someone one the street suddenly has an emergency, and you are the only one there. Of course you’ll offer help. But if someone has an emergency in a room full of people, every person just wait for someone else to offer help. The end result is that, again, nothing gets done.

SFV may be in a similar state of a self fulfilling prophecy- You don’t enjoy the game but there are no other options with a community big enough for your liking, so you stick around because everyone else around you are also sticking around. But they look at you sticking around and that makes them stick around. That’s how you create a self fulfilling prophecy where you have no other options because you actively contribute yourself to having no other options.

How about trying the very minimum you can do to break this cycle?

It’s simple- Stop waiting for everyone around you to make the first move. Instead, make the first move yourself and lead by example. Even if you know in your heart of hearts that SFV and/or a big community will always be your #1 priority, give other games an honest chance as well, and don’t be quick to disqualify them as options just because of their currently smaller scene size. The game’s themselves are well made and their communities are inviting and helpful. Surely that has to be worth *something* for you, right?

No one is expecting you to stop playing SFV or to leave the SFV scene, only that you also try new things in addition to SFV. If you go back to full time SFV once Capcom improves the game, that’s perfectly fine. At least you tried something different.

Maybe you’ll find that you actually really enjoy playing this other game. Enough to at least keep playing it as a side game, alongside SFV. The scene of this game will be happy to have you as a member and show you the ropes!

And think about it- If enough people will give this other game a chance just like you do, then you and everyone else will also enjoy the benefits of a big scene in this game as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

No matter what happens with SFV, consider this as an invitation to become a part of other fighting games’ communities as well, as we all benefit from it, and maybe you’ll find more available options out there that fill your personal needs from a fighting game of choice!

Take our hand. What have you got to lose?