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How to Become a Popular Fighting Game Player

My recent mini-editorial on basic tournament etiquette errors generated more feedback than i would’ve anticipated. Apparently, top player conduct and popularity is kind of a hot topic.

Personally i think trying to get famous for playing video games is a waste of time – but if you believe it’s going to make you happy, good luck. With so many newcomers struggling to make a name for themselves, maybe it’s a good idea to outline a few straightforward pointers.

    Win Tournaments
Obviously the most direct route to recognition is winning major tournaments, especially nowadays with live streams drawing thousands of internet spectators. The higher the stakes, the more memorable the moment. There’s really no greater accomplishment than winning Evo or SBO, but any victory at any major national tournament will resonate.

    Play Fan-Favorite Characters and Rush Down
Nothing beats the credibility you gain for earning first place, but your play style can help your reputation too. Getting third place with a low-tier, rushdown character might increase your popularity more than getting second place with a top-tier, runaway character. When this happens, the reasons are obvious. Almost everyone prefers watching aggressive players over defensive players; and almost everyone likes rooting for underdogs against top tiers.

    Produce Innovation, Style, and Flashy Combos
After a while, everyone grows accustomed to seeing matchups play out the same way. If you can come up with one new trick per tournament, that moment of excitement will stand out in people’s minds. Nobody watches tournament matches hoping both players follow the script. Whether it’s a new combo, or a crazy crossup setup, or a flashy reset – any genuine innovation will get people talking about you.

ComboVid.com - Fighting Game Combos, Tutorials, Matches, Screenshots, and Strategy

    Help Other Players
Any positive or negative actions you take toward others will eventually come back to you in kind. Sooner or later, you’ll receive rewards for helping the community – or backlash for taking shortcuts at other people’s expense. If you’re polite after wins and losses, frequently share your knowledge, or volunteer to support your local scene, then your reputation will continue to grow. On the other hand, if you’re often rude, never help anyone, and take more than you give, you’ll develop a bad reputation. It’s common sense. The fighting game community is a small circle; and although it might not happen overnight, word gets around.

    Make Cool Things
Speaking of innovative magic and helping other players, making combo videos and tutorials is a pretty good way to get noticed. In fact, any form of multimedia will work: building websites, hosting streams, drawing art, even taking screenshots. Just focus on quality and the rest will take care of itself. (Every once in a while, you might have to defend yourself against people trying to get ahead by exploiting your work, but that comes with the territory, unfortunately.)

None of these tips should surprise anyone, but that’s really all it takes. You can experiment with social media gimmicks all you want; but at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for being a truly good player. I’ve been doing this forever and there’s no way i’ll ever be as famous as CaliPower or JWong. And that’s the way it should be.

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  1. June 26th, 2011 at 00:42 | #1

    In fairness, i might be underestimating social networking here, but i’ve never been too impressed by what it can do. When it comes to news, i think most real exposure happens when a major website picks up on a story.

    It doesn’t really matter how many people are tweeting about something. Unless it becomes a trending topic, it won’t match the sheer impact of the story/image/video showing up on yahoo or espn or whatever.

    Social media just creates enough buzz for the major outlets to pick it up. In fact, i think social media lags because the early adopters aren’t significant in number and the casual followers never bother creating waves.

    Anyway hopefully this article wraps up the whole subject of player conduct so i don’t have to write about it again. I feel bad for new players because this is a complicated community to walk into, but explaining this stuff isn’t particularly interesting for me and there are more qualified voices out there.

  2. CPS2
    June 26th, 2011 at 01:59 | #2

    I think facebook is good for organising events and twitter for keeping up to date with events, but unless people really care about what you’re doing (i.e. you’re already Justin Wong) they’re probably not a good way to get noticed. If youtube fits under that category tho, I think it is a good way to get noticed.

  3. June 26th, 2011 at 03:52 | #3

    Reading a lot of this made me think of Sabre’s moment versus Valle. Perhaps “win tournaments” could be widened a bit to possibly “beat well known players in tournament”.

  4. June 26th, 2011 at 10:45 | #4

    Haha that theory sounds like it would produce a very interesting “fame ancestry” tree. I hope computers record and organize that type of data when they take over the planet.

  5. Bob Sagat
    June 26th, 2011 at 16:01 | #5

    #5: Have a silly screen name (preferably a FG related pun), assisted by silly avatars.

    “(Every once in a while, you might have to defend yourself against people trying to get ahead by exploiting your work, but that comes with the territory, unfortunately.)”
    I think this one applies to people who win tournaments too. Some people really love to talk shit about Daigo, JWong, etc. and to copy whatever they do without being innovative themselves of course.

  6. June 26th, 2011 at 16:13 | #6

    I totally agree, being funny counts for a lot on the internet. Gootecks and Mike Ross basically made a career for themselves out of being fighting game comedians. Their show is genuinely entertaining, and i usually make it all the way to the end whenever someone links me to a particular episode.

    You could probably say the same thing for Rockefeller and Dogface, minus the “career” part since neither of those guys ever made a dime. But people still talk about Rockefeller even though he hasn’t done commentary in years and hasn’t entered a tournament in forever and a half.

  7. June 27th, 2011 at 04:53 | #7

    I just thought that the innovating applies to commentary too, like when I think Chris Hu I think “I respeck dat!” and when I think Yipes there’s a ton of stuff that goes with it. Sort of having a memorable catch phrase, kind of links back to the Juicebox dance.

  8. Bob Sagat
    June 27th, 2011 at 12:49 | #8

    The best commentary imo, is a nice balance between funny stuff(related to what’s going on in the game, no random jokes) + insightfulness, so even someone who’s not familiar with the game can get into a match and appreciate any higher level stuff that’s going on that would have otherwise gone over their head.
    That’s why I like the big money match between Cl0ckwork and Neo so much. You got Dogface -who’s funny, but also actually knows the game he’s talking about- together with Justin Wong -who knows more about Marvel than anyone else on the planet. (And he also says some funny stuff every now and then.)

  9. July 4th, 2011 at 18:40 | #9

    My preferences are basically the same, but it’s all very subjective. For example i think “insightful” and “funny” are much more important than “hype” but i wouldn’t blame anyone for disagreeing.

    I commentated CvS2 matches for a little while at Evo2k7 before streaming took off, and it wasn’t easy at all. Anyone can do a great job (or a terrible job) for a couple minutes at a time, but maintaining consistent quality for two hours is extremely difficult.

  10. Cypher
    July 30th, 2011 at 10:30 | #10

    “Help Other Players
    Any positive or negative actions you take toward others will eventually come back to you in kind. Sooner or later, you’ll receive rewards for helping the community – or backlash for taking shortcuts at other people’s expense. If you’re polite after wins and losses, frequently share your knowledge, or volunteer to support your local scene, then your reputation will continue to grow. On the other hand, if you’re often rude, never help anyone, and take more than you give, you’ll develop a bad reputation. It’s common sense. The fighting game community is a small circle; and although it might not happen overnight, word gets around.”

    Couldn’t agree more.. even if might not be the best player around, if you try to help around as much as you can, people notice. I am trying to set up a community in my country and already I get people telling me via the Internets stuff like “hey, aren’t you that guy who does that thing? Cool, how can I help?”

  11. August 1st, 2011 at 04:58 | #11

    So to add to this:
    Be 8
    Be female
    Play an exciting (not high tier) character

  12. August 3rd, 2011 at 23:23 | #12

    You still need some skill though. There are a lot of 8-year-old kids out there, and there were maybe 50+ women in the Evo hall. And yet you’re thinking of one specific 8-year-old kid and a couple of specific female players.

    I already covered your third point in the article, but how many people out there try to be flashy with garbage characters? Countless. How many of them show up on anyone’s radar? Maybe five or ten.

  13. August 4th, 2011 at 15:48 | #13

    Well I wasn’t being totally serious, but comparing an 8 year old, a woman and a man of equal skill it is clear who will be the least popular.

  1. August 15th, 2011 at 02:22 | #1
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