As video games continue to find a home in mainstream culture, they’re slowly becoming less stigmatized. Where gaming was once overwhelmingly seen as a morally questionable hobby for social outcasts, it’s now becoming clear that video games can bring communities together, inspire players to reach for excellence, and reach the level of great art.
Although the perception of video games has changed, the reality is that gaming has always been a healthy and uplifting activity. For evidence, look no further than a recent Twitter thread kicked off by Mark “MarkMan” Julio, a business development and community engagement expert who works with Tekken, Soulcalibur, ten/o media, the Evolution Championship Series, and a host of other big names in the Fighting Game Community. Julio recalled playing Tetris, Duck Hunt, and Ridge Racer with his parents, then asked his followers if they had any similar memories of gaming as a family. The answers are nothing short of heartwarming.
Did anyone play video games with their parents while growing up? I was lucky enough to experience this with both my parents. Both my mom and dad were really into Tetris. My mom STILL plays Tetris DX (Game Boy Color), lol. My dad was so good at NES Duck Hunt and
(cont. 1 of 2)
— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) August 25, 2020
If you’re part of the FGC, you’ll already be familiar with many of the people who replied. Still, you may not know that James Chen, the star commentator and content creator, would have late-night Space Invaders sessions with his dad and brother, or that Alex Jebailey, the founder of Community Effort Orlando, competed with his mom in Tetris.
My parents owned a Chinese restaurant and at one point someone put a Space Invaders cocktail cabinet there and split the profits of it with my parents. My Dad, my brother, and I would stay after the restaurant closed and play late at night. LOL! I musta been like 5 or 6. https://t.co/jdQkFrHptA
— James Chen #BlackLivesMatter (@jchensor) August 26, 2020
Haha Tetris was my mom’s jam. We played endlessly on Gameboy and she was really good. That’s about she ever played. My dad has never touched a video game in his life. He does love to play poker though.
— Alex (@Jebailey) August 25, 2020
Mama Dao, who works with Combo Queens and Capcom, is another community figure who has fond memories of gaming with her mom as a child. In her case, they played Super Buster Bros., a cooperative Asteroids-like game. Meanwhile, pro Street Fighter player Alex Myers also remembers gaming with his parents, though he leaned more towards the competitive side.
This was one of the first games I remember playing with my mom.
My dad was more into restoration, so I grew up playing a lot of pinball with him. pic.twitter.com/wqVgellbrX
— 🌸 Mama Dao ⚡ (@TheMamaDao) August 25, 2020
I played a lot of ST with my mom haha and a lot of Wii boxing/mini games with my dad. Really miss the Wii now that I think about it
— Alex Myers (@AlexMyersFGC) August 25, 2020
The Family That KOs Together
What’s even more encouraging for the FGC is the number of people who specifically cited fighting games. Along with Myers (“ST” is short for Super Street Fighter II Turbo”), there were tons of people who replied with their stories of mashing out reversals against their parents. These stories prove that the FGC is more than its detractors make it out to be. Not only does the community act as a supportive home for its adult members, for many people it’s a beacon that provides guidance from childhood onward.
We’ve collected some of our favorites below, from top players to unsung heroes and more. If you have your own memories of gaming with your parents, tweet them to us @toptiergg (and don’t forget to include @MarkMan23, too). Then, if you ever feel like you need a pick-me-up, read through the replies to the original tweet. You’ll be sure to find something that brightens your day.
YES! The ENTIRE foundation & my love for video games comes from my father playing SF & my mother’s love to watch. Without that strong love for video games I don’t even know where I’d be. They bought me every game possible & my father would play along while my mom would watch. 💖 https://t.co/9YLjIRL1d0
— ✨Ricki Sophie Ortiz✨ (@HelloKittyRicki) August 25, 2020
My dad used to be the man back in the day in our hometown in the Hyper Fighting days. Growing up we always played FGs together and it grew whenever SF4 came out. Always had a sparring partner,he never showed me how to play. I had to learn on my own like he did back in the day 😂
— Kennedy (@PastorKen_) August 26, 2020
My dad was the one who actually introduced me to fighting games! Growing up as a kid he would always take me to arcades around SoCal and sometimes during the weekends we would go do laundry and the laundromat has NeoGeo cabs.
— Starizu 🏳️🌈 (@Starizu901) August 25, 2020
In celebration of my mom being pregnant with me, my dad apparently splurged and bought himself an SNES at launch. As early as I can remember he was always playing SF2, Super Metroid, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, MK2, and Donkey Kong Country with my brothers and later me https://t.co/t1r3kQMosT
— Tanner @ What’s Bonkin’? (@KingHippo42) August 25, 2020
My mom is undefeated at Dr. Mario. Like I legit believe if we had tournaments for that game, she’d just crush everyone. https://t.co/R6BNM7pIaH
— Jay Snyder (@JayViscant) August 26, 2020
My parents watched and supported, but it was my grandma I played with the most. Ultima, Diablo, Silent Hill, etc. We’d play it all together. Played fighting games as well and always gave me the special editions when they dropped. I even have the T3 Jin shirt somewhere in my house https://t.co/jsvzhIGBEB
— Ｓａｉｎｔ Ｃｏｌａ (@_saintcola) August 25, 2020
My dad was the biggest one growing up. We played pretty much everything together (Halo, SF2, MK, Diablo, etc), but now, he doesn’t play as much
The rest of my family enjoys video games but never got into them a lot but they ask about my commentary or tournament stuff still https://t.co/XiW6y8d49F
— They Call Me Nog (@Nogarremi) August 25, 2020
My mom used to hold MK tournaments with her friends. She’s really good at super mario world and Tetris. She is also an old school DnD player. I played a lot of Mario with her growing up and recently got her into playing pokemon and animal crossing so she can relax https://t.co/PuuoHZviq6
— 🐸frog gf🐸 (@evangelifrog) August 26, 2020
My dad brought home SNES with the original Mortal Kombat when I was very young. Arcade trips for other fighting games, big on Tekken at the local diner. Would catch him up late at night practicing combos, or time trials in Mario Kart. Still cant beat his SNES records.
— TWK (@TWKsmash) August 25, 2020
I wasn’t allowed a games console for a very long time, but my mum of all people played tekken 3 with me when i was 8(?) a bunch
and look at me now https://t.co/WKapQej0Ae
— RSN | Metalqueersolid (@MQS_FGC) August 25, 2020
This is a very interesting question. A lot of people might not know this but my Dad taught me how to at Street Fighter when I was a kid. He grew up in the arcade era and was really known in our state for his skill in Street Fighter, Tekken & other fighters. I continued the legacy https://t.co/CBxqJf1BvA
— ElChakotay (@TauntButton) August 25, 2020
Me and my dad would spend hours playing Soul Blade. Getting all the weapons in edge master mode and then beating on eachother. Super fun times I hope I can have with my kids too
— MFGC | Sir Rando (@therealsirrando) August 26, 2020
I was not able to do it with my parents, but, sure, my children will do it with me. 😎 https://t.co/BhVC4bn8t6
— TAOFights (@TAOFights) August 25, 2020
Eli Horowitz is a novelist and software professional who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. His first novel, Bodied, is the coming-of-age story of a young woman in the FGC in 2011-2012. Bodied is for sale here, and you can learn more about Eli @BODIEDnovel on Twitter or at his website.