FGC Origin Stories – How We Found Our Way to the Fighting Game Community

By on November 19, 2019

Diversity has always been a hallmark of the Fighting Game Community. Not only is there variety in the games themselves, the appeal of the FGC has always reached across racial, gendered, socioeconomic, educational, and geographical boundaries. I myself am a straight, white guy from Pittsburgh who has a master’s degree, but I’ve made friends in the FGC who live in Canada, Germany, and Japan; whose ancestors lived in Africa, India, and Mexico; who never finished college; who are L, G, B, and T; who are women; and more. Even though we’ve all come from different places, we share this wonderful community together.

One of the beautiful things about our diverse backgrounds is that the FGC means different things to each of us. A recent tweet from Carolyn “Mama” Dao gave us the chance to share our stories. The responses show just how strong and vibrant the FGC is.

Baited – And Loving It

Many of us came to the FGC through the games themselves. There’s just something magical about playing your first fighter and realizing that every level offers not just a harder challenge but a different one. Combine that with the genre’s powerful capacities for world-building and self-expression, and you’ve got a lure that few can resist. Damascus, EXT0PDOLL, and UltraDavid all fell for fighting games hook, line, and sinker – and so did I.

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me have a console. As a result, my only experiences with video games were at two places: arcades and my friend Ryan’s house. I tried pretty much everything: sports games, racing games, platformers, maze games, side-scrollers, and more. What I quickly discovered was that fighters were fair in ways that most other arcade titles weren’t. In most games, difficulty was just a matter of flooding the screen with enemies. You could buy your way through these games by using quarters as your ammunition, but that felt like cheating – and, anyway, I was working with a limited budget. In contrast, fighting games were difficult without being “Nintendo hard.” Moreover, by learning and growing within the game, I could stretch every coin as far as it would go.

Of course, a game doesn’t make a community all by itself. Just as a book becomes something more in the context of a book club and a guitar becomes something more when joined to a drum kit and a bass, the fighting games that we love mean more to us because of the people we share them with.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Finish Arcade Mode

One of the most beautiful words in the English language is “again.” Just ask anyone who’s ever pushed a kid on a swing: there’s something pure about the feeling of “again.” We in the FGC are a little more verbose – our preferred saying, “run it back,” is three times as long. But the feeling is the same: “again.”

Of course, no matter how you say it, the most important thing is finding someone who will be there to give you the “again” you’re looking for. If the games themselves are the skeleton of the FGC, friends are the muscles. They provide the push and pull, the dance of alliance and the lactic-acid burn of rivalry. For Pat “the Flip” Miller, Ryan “ConvictedofFun” Mejia, Steph “Vexanie” Lindgren, and Rose_princessxX, friendships opened the door to the FGC.

Friends played a role for me, too. Ryan, my lone video-gaming friend, played Primal Rage with me on his Genesis. We messed around with Power Stone on a field trip to Sea World Ohio. At Pittsburgh’s Waterworks movie theater, we got so hyped up on Soul Edge that we somehow managed to convince ourselves that Rock was a secret, intentionally overpowered character. (He was not.)

Ryan also happened to be the one person with whom I could talk about my love of comic books. So when Capcom started producing fighters that starred Marvel heroes and villains, we were there. Ryan played Venom and Captain Commando in the original Marvel vs. Capcom. I desperately struggled with Spider-Man’s inputs After the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, we even spent an entire week of summer camp making detailed plans for a sequel. (The one thing we got right? We named Galactus as the final boss.) Fighting games would never have made or broken our friendship, but our friendship deepened my love of fighting games.

Over time, my circle of fighting-game friends grew. Ryan introduced me to Kyle, at whose house I learned the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. Later, in high school, I met Ed, who lived in a housing project along I-279 and who introduced me to both anime and anime fighters. Kyle played Pikachu and abused his forward-smash as an edgeguarding tool. Ed played Sol, which made him a perfect rival for my Ky. We all graduated and went to colleges in separate states before we could put down roots in Pittsburgh’s FGC, but years later I still send them links to fighting-game documentaries. They were my own personal FGC before I knew what the FGC was.

A Lifetime Progression

There’s one more thing that’s required for a true community: a shared sense of purpose. This is what gives the FGC significance and staying power. The games – the skeleton – give us structure; our friends bring that structure to life; but the energy we expend together feels meaningful because we know that our efforts make a difference. Whether we’re working to become champions, to bring honor to our homes, or to hone a related craft, the FGC is full of tremendous opportunities to learn and grow in the service of a greater good. Just ask David “Justakid” Edwards, WireMan, and HiFight, all of whom found different ways to evolve within the FGC.

By now, it probably won’t be a surprise when I say that I fall into this category, too. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, but it was only when I started watching FGC locals that I felt I had anything worth saying. In Big Two (now Next Level Battle Circuit) and Wednesday Night Fights, I found the elements of a story that had never been told before. That story was the basis for my first novel, Bodied, and the experience of writing that novel profoundly changed my sense of who I am and where I belong in the world. The article you’re reading right now is a direct result of that change. Neither Bodied nor my second (as-yet-untitled) novel may have been published (yet), but the FGC has taught me to believe in work and to learn until I win.

And I know I’m not the only one. If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve grown because the FGC, too. More than anything else, that’s what makes us a community: just by being here and acting on our passion for fighting games, we’re all giving our strength to the cause that strengthens us.

A Surface Barely Scratched

What’s your FGC origin story? Did you come for the games, the friendships, or the chance to pursue mastery? Was it the hype that drew you here, as it did Stephen “Sajam” Lyon, Alex “Calipower” Valle, and our own Henry “Choysauce” Choi? Were you led here through your interest in cosplay or another gaming genre? Was it just pure chance? Whatever the details, your FGC origin story matters, because it puts you in a unique position to find joy and resolve in this home we’ve all built for one another. Tell us about your story in the comments or tweet it to us @toptiergg.

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