Despite the fact that there are over two billion gamers in the world, some people still look down on gamers and gaming communities. This negative peer pressure can make it hard to “come out” as a gamer no matter what kinds of games you play or how deeply involved with them you are. Nobody wants their interests to be seen as frivolous, childish, or illegitimate. So, in the face of a real or potential backlash, it can be tempting to stay silent about being a gamer.
Recently, Buffalo resident and Dhalsim main Alex “K-Money” Kuhrt took to Twitter to urge his compatriots in the Fighting Game Community to discuss gaming confidently and proudly. Here at toptier, we, too, believe that when the FGC is at its best, it’s a source of gratitude and delight. Still, we understand that our community is a unique place that can be confusing to outsiders, especially if those outsiders aren’t gamers themselves. That’s why we’re here to help. Read on as we lay out a few simple strategies for talking to your family, friends, and neighbors about gaming and the FGC.
If you’re embarassed to tell people outside the FGC you compete in games, don’t be. Most people think it’s pretty awesome you have a passionate hobby that’s a niche you love. Lots of people can’t say the same thing.
— BFGC | K-Money (@EthosAlex) February 23, 2020
Start With An Invitation
The easiest way to build bridges with fighting games is by playing them. So, to start a conversation about gaming and the FGC, ask the skeptics in your life if they want to try out your favorite game. If they agree, great! In the best case, they’ll get hooked and you’ll have a new convert. Even if they don’t, they’ll gain some firsthand experience with the genre, which will help them to understand how challenging and fun it can be.
Don’t be worried about the people who decline your invitation. As strange as it may seem, some people are simply uncomfortable around video games, either because of some mistaken ideological belief, sheer unfamiliarity, or some other cause. The important thing is not to force the other person to play with you but rather to hear their objection so that you can respond appropriately.
Inspire And Amaze
Many objectors will try to say that video games are inherently easy, trivial, or unimportant. When faced with such objections, there are at least two ways forward. If you feel that the person can be baited, challenge them. After all, if games are so simple, they should be able to take you on, right? A couple blowouts should help to change their mind.
Alternatively, if the other person isn’t being hostile but is just speaking from a place of innocent ignorance, educate them. The FGC is full of incredible stories about people overcoming serious obstacles in order to achieve greatness. Show them our articles on FGCers with disabilities, like “TokiMeki” Emily Serrato and Federally. Talk to them about how fighting games helped Paul “BlaQSkillZ” DeCuir beat homelessness and how they improved Joe “NoGoodCitizen” Gillian’s mental health.
No matter which games you play, you can find examples of players who rose up from poverty, overcame their demons, or lifted up their entire community because of fighting games. These stories can help the skeptics in your life to understand that gaming is far more than a casual pastime.
Show Your Work
If that doesn’t do the trick, perhaps it’s because you’re dealing with someone who only respects effort and hard work. In that case, tell them about all of the unsung heroes in the FGC. Our community has scads of devoted, hard-working people who do everything from event planning, logistics, and PR to graphic design, filmmaking, and even making their own games.
And then there are the players. Professional competitors in the FGC put in way more work than most people realize. Not only do they practice and train, they build their own brands by streaming and traveling the world to compete. Amazingly, many of them do so while working another part- or full-time job. Anyone who respects hard work and sacrifice should be won over by these stories. You can also make it personal by talking about your own work habits in the FGC. Once a skeptic understands that you’re not just goofing around, it’ll be that much harder for them to maintain their skepticism.
Model Respect For Differences
At some point, you may find that you’ve run up against a wall. For one reason or another, the gaming skeptics in your life may not be able to articulate the reasons for their position. In that case, look to make connections with the activities that they enjoy.
This will be easier in some cases than others. For instance, it should be very straightforward to find commonalities with fans of other competitive endeavors (such as sports, racing, or gambling), but it may be harder to do the same with people who are interested in, say, farming. When in doubt, try to elicit emotion from the other person. Humans may have a huge array of hobbies and passions, but they’re all built atop a relatively small number of emotional responses. If you can identify the emotions that resonate with the skeptics in your life – awe, gratitude, excitement, joy, comfort, fascination, satisfaction – you can explain why you feel those same emotions in relation to the FGC.
Be careful, though: at this point, the goal is not to win the other person over to your side or to prove that fighting games are better than whatever they’re into. All you need to do is use the FGC to emphasize the respect that you have for their feelings. That way, they’ll know that you understand and accept them, which will make them more likely to offer the same respect to you. Plus, by allowing them to be different, you’ll demonstrate a rare and formidable strength, namely, the ability to stay true to yourself even when others decline to come along for the ride.
Gaming For Good
No matter how your conversations go, remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Every generation reacts immaturely to some new phenomenon or another. Ours just happens to be video games. With luck and persistence, you can help the skeptics in your life to see the light. But even if they refuse to change, you have an entire community at your back. We’re here, we’re growing every day, and we’re proud to be in the FGC!