Why Fighting Games Are Special
Date Published: February 26, 2017
The usual demeanor of players is often irrelevant when fighting games are involved as emotions are guaranteed to run rampant. There is a certain level of personal involvement that fighting games highlight almost better than any other competitive game in the gaming community.
The characters, stages, rules, and other aspects of fighting games are often volatile, however the never changing factor is the competitive frame of mind and will to win that all fighting game players share.
When looking at the grand nature of competitive Esports, while some may share a few aspects, there’s just simply not another genre of game that competes with fighting games when it comes to how personal the experience is.
Whether it’s being a strategic mastermind in a game like Starcraft, an outclassing expert with a certain champion in League of Legends, or even an analytical wizard in Hearthstone—none of those games truly hold the same accountability and emphasis on personal skill, as to say a game like Street Fighter IV does.
While there is a great amount of skill that goes into other competitive Esports games, there are also other factors in those games that do not exist in fighting games, such as team chemistry, communication, and luck. Fighting games leave those factors out and pose a simple question; Are you better than the person controlling the other character?
If making comparisons from a mental standpoint, fighting games are actually much more similar to sports like tennis and mixed martial arts than games like Overwatch or Counter-Strike. Aside from the physical component, the personal nature of competition, focus, and mental exertion are all aspects that fighting games share with individual physical competition.
Akin to MMA and tennis, there may be training partners, coaches, or a sponsored team you belong to, but like those sports, the end result—be it triumph or defeat is solely on the fighting game player. There is no place for finger pointing at teammates, or excusing a sequence to luck, matches in fighting games are purely determined by who is better.
In a deeper sense, the personal element in fighting games is one that is often overlooked, the context, even be it translated to characters on screen, is one that subjects’ players into putting their pride on the line. How players handle loss at the hands of a rival, or how they react to winning in the clutch, is all part of what makes fighting games so unique.
Putting the online scene aside, another reason why fighting games separate themselves from other competitive games, is due to the fact that the proximity to your opponent is so near. Fighting games are often played either side to side sharing the same screen, or with personal monitors, but still a few feet across from one another.
With such a personalized environment, fighting games also carry perhaps the most important factor of all—the ability to self-reflect. Whether you like it or not, putting your character out there vs. an opponent’s character is somewhat the act of self-representation, which is often a vulnerable and an uncomfortable position to be in.
However, the capability to accept the outcome and grow from the experience, be it how to accept loss and understanding what needs to be done in order to get better rather than to succumb to pointless rage, or remaining humble in the defeat of your rival, even when a pop-off is justifiable, those aspects of growing both as players and people is what makes fighting games and the fighting game community so special.