Competition

Hopefully this post isn't too difficult to follow for those of you who actually read this stuff. However, I will inevitably always use outside sources and analogies in order to describe what I'm talking about, which inadvertently tends to make things more difficult to follow. Alas, old habits die hard, so here goes.

The concept of domination is actually part of what makes games a lot of fun for some people, but I'll get into that in another post. Another thing that makes games fun is competition. There are moments in life that cause an adrenaline rush, sweating, breathing heavily, clinching teeth, and white knuckles, all leading up to extreme breath taking moments that leave you in awe and shock. These moments are sought after by sports players through means of competition and training. Pushing yourself to the limits and doing your best in order to out-play your opponent. Things are absolutely the most fun when competition is at it's absolute highest and two players come together with almost equal or close to equal skill levels. It may surprise some people out there that it is actually possible to get an adrenaline rush and one of those "breath taking moments" from playing a video game, but it's true. Problem is that it's difficult to find for a lot of people. Video games aren't really refined well enough to be on the same level as sports, but in recent years they are certainly coming very close.

For me, one of my greatest experiences with this was with the First Person Shooter (FPS) game Quake 1 by ID Software. I mention this because I'll be referencing it in regards to both domination and guarantees. But before I get to that, please bear with me. There was a time when I played the game very regularly with many different people all over the country who had become quite good at the game, and thus I also became quite good. The more I played people better than me, the more I "leveled up" my own skill. To me, the game was so very interesting because the results from competition in the game was not truly random, and in fact there was quite an enormous difference between player skill levels because there was so many different skill-based factors that contributed to a players ability to win. In order to beat your opponent you needed to do much much more than just aim your gun properly, you also needed to have the ability to out-strategize, anticipate, react, play defensively, play offensively, and maneuver, as well as aim. Having acquired a certain level of skill at performing all those techniques, then finding some one who was equally good as me at playing, and playing several sets always winning or losing by a very small margin was nothing short of an amazing and easily memorable experience for me.

Does this exist in Fighting games, and more to the point, in Monster?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. Although, personally it's been a rather difficult task getting there for me. But the good news is that I have had a few experiences with Fighters, and with Monster, that somewhat mirror my experiences with Quake. That isn't to say that Fighters are inferior. No, certainly not inferior at all. I'm just saying that in my own path into the world of competitive gaming, Fighters have proven more difficult for me to achieve the same level of comp as with FPS.

One of the biggest hinderance with Fighters is accessibility to top-level players on a daily basis. Having online play has always increased accessibility to many levels of skill for FPS games, since online play is rather viable for FPS and widely popular. Though with Fighters, even in recent years where online play has become more and more common with Fighters, it's still not quite the same as with an FPS game since online and offline play in Fighters is significantly different.

Another big hinderance has been variety and tools. There's a lot of variety in Fighting games with multiple games that play very differently and multiple characters that also play very differently. Not all games and not all characters are created equally in Fighters, which makes the playing field a little awkward, so to speak. Back in the day, for me there was Quake and only Quake, and in Quake there was only one character, so the playing field was even and standard, with the exception of tools.

For Fighters there's also a need for proper tools such as functional arcade cabinets and/or consoles with proper gaming controllers, and preferably nice TV's as well. But then that also occurs with FPS games as the need for high quality computers and controllers -- generally a good processor, vid card, and ram, plus a nice keyboard and mouse is required for a good FPS game experience, not to mention a fast and reliable internet connection for online gaming.

Fortunately I believe Fighters have been taking large steps in the right direction for online functionality. Particularly with Monster, in my opinion. Which is really good for opening up access to many different players with different styles and levels of skill at all hours of the day, and on a regular basis. I would probably never grow as a player in a game like Monster if it did not have online play, because in my local area the gaming pool is simply too shallow and I would be unable to play even with the local players on a regular basis (probably only on weekends or bi-weekly). But with online play I can play pretty much anyone on the East Coast almost any day of the week.

And yes, because of this I have achieved a nice comp experience in Monster. Though, the game is still relatively new and there's still a relatively small player base, so I'm not really expecting to get an ultimate experience out of it for a while longer, but at least I know we're progressing in that direction which is really quite exciting. The only thing that could really squelch progression would be a significant decrease in player base due to loss of interest. In the mean time, I'll be rooting for an increase.

PS. Throughout my competitive gaming experiences, it's also been a really sad experience for me to come in contact with people who are afraid of losing or people who strongly dislike losing, since to me losing is an indication that you have found a person able to level you up (learn from) and I personally find that very exciting.



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