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The Problem with Loss in the Fighting Game Community

Michael is a 2006 Graduate of Collins College and has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design branching into IT/Coding Fields.

Losing is a challenge that all players deal with in the FGC.

Losing is a challenge that all players deal with in the FGC.

You Lose...

These are the two words that no respected fighter game player wants to hear...ESPECIALLY in a tournament scene. From here, there are several instances going through the minds of participants in the Fighting Game Community. First, they will celebrate the victor, especially when it's done in spectacular fashion and place the defeated in not only a poor standing as well as belittle them but will place their defeat under a microscope to study how they lost, what steps they 'should have' taken, and discard them into obscurity as they retreat into the darkness. This is a problem in that there is no clear cut answer, but I'd like to shed some light on this topic to the best of my ability. Let's begin with the one most affected by this outcome, the loser; finishing up with the one LEAST affected by this outcome, the winner. Round One, FIGHT!

Round One

The loser has a place in the FGC. It's a vital place, but not welcoming nor well-received.

Out of the many...

Let's not beat around the bush here. Losing sucks. It just does. No one wants to experience it, even on purpose. However, fighting games are specifically designed to separate winners from losers. The separation is the first problem that the Fighting Game Community has haphazardly addressed. YES, we cannot simply give out 'participation' prizes for those that didn't win. The fighting games themselves are pretty straightforward.

However, simply disregarding the efforts of the players that lose the game gives way to hostile experiences that will turn violent. Again, NO ONE enjoys losing, and the games themselves won't support a loss with 'You did your best' or 'Nice Effort, even though you didn't win' or the like. It's either 'Game Over' or 'You Lose.' So the first solution to offer is creating a level of respect for all participants and a sense of rules that punish harassment at the tournament scene...or at the very least, better regulations of existing rules.

How Fighting Games are Paid

Those that have traversed the Arcades know this as fact. Fighting Games are profitable when there are LOTS of losers. Meaning the difficulty set in single-player play-throughs and facing a skilled opponent after they rack up wins causes more quarters to be put into the machine. This, in turn, makes it profitable, as the desire to win clouds better judgment. Therein lies the second problem; taking advantage of losers financially.

Naturally, this goes beyond the tournament fee to pay for the winners. What I'm referring to is the costs BEYOND the tournament, such as travel costs (gas, car, bus, etc.), places to stay (if not locally operated), food, parking, equipment (if not provided on-site), and so on. To be fair, THESE costs are not going towards the company, but the similarity is that it is costly to the loser than to the winner, which recoups the cost through the winnings.

Finally, the cost of tournaments has also increased as the FGC continues to expand. This puts a further burden on the loser as they can no longer participate due to expenses. Yet, a large base of players willing to put that much INTO the tournament is necessary; only the losers from the tournament can make it happen, all the while getting nothing to show for their efforts except scorn...such is the nature of this type of game.

So What Now...?

That's the million-dollar question. As stated earlier, we need to set up rules to keep harassment, also known as 'popping off' on opponents, to a minimum if not at all. Harassment of any kind must be removed entirely as it causes further problems in the future. Next, having a means to recoup the financial loss with some sort of voucher, perhaps from the game itself. While some will feel it is very lackluster, at the very least, the cost can be justified. Now that we have gone over the loser, we'll now transition to the lesser of the two, the winner.

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Round Two

The winner also has a place in the FGC. This is the more sought after, and thus with it come the challenges of being a winner.

There can be Only One...

Should all work in your favor, you are given the accolade of the 'winner' of the game. This gives you a lot of perks that losers will never know. This also causes a problem in they are given a sense of entitlement while also creating a disparity of those that didn't win which causes the winner to be disrespectful to the rest of those that participated...this is also known as 'popping off.' While not all winners act like this, the trappings of victory can intoxicate a person. Therefore, the FGC has to recognize that the winner is for THIS particular tournament or event.

Nothing Gained, Nothing Ventured

The truth about winning a game is that you have not really gained anything from the victory. After you won, that's it. You got all the way through, beat people, and it's over. Now what? Nothing really. You get your prize and go home. By this point, the event's over. Victory is anti-climactic in the FGC in that the moment there is a winner for an event, it's over. So what needs to happen is to find a way to provide closure for ALL participants; the winner, and losers, which makes the experience worthwhile for all. Until that comes into play, winners will continue to gain nothing from their winnings, other than money (which may be all that matters to some).

Final Round

Now, for this debate to be of any worth in discussing, we must bring these two parts of the FGC to a head.

What Do YOU Think...?

At this point, I'd like to conclude this with a question: what do you, the Reader, believe should be the best solution going forward for the Fighting Game Community? How should winners and losers be handled? Is this discussion unwarranted or lacking in evidence? Please provide what comments you can and let's see where we can go from here in terms of handling Loss in the FGC in the section below...

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Michael Rivers

Continue...? (Provide Comments Here)

Michael Rivers (author) from North Carolina on February 20, 2021:

I'm going to need you to further explain that stance. To my understanding, fighting games have a dual viewpoint. You are either the winner and receive rewards and accolades, or you are the loser and dealing with setbacks, more than expected and often disastrous. There isn't a gray area, which is the flaw of the current system; that said, if there were, this gray area would dilute the worth of the experience (hence the participation problem).

Deivids Balodis on November 09, 2020:

I know this might sound cruel, but, imo, the current system works relatively fine. Maybe a bit more of acknowledgement for the “more accomplished losers” could do wonders for some, but fighting games (and especially its tornament scene) have always been a bit Dawkins-esque.

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