The generation that was born at the same time that the video game genre was born is getting kind of old these days. The OG of VGs, so to speak. But quite a few of them are still at the top of their game, or rather, they're still at the top. While there's some newcomers that compete at top level, the older generation hasn't seemed to have fallen off despite getting.. old. They have a lot of experience under their belt, after all, and the NewGen has some catching up to do. I would say, then, that experience conquers age.
Perhaps gaming really never had a whole lot to do with a person's age. Rather, maybe it had everything to do with the generation before the OG-VG not having access to video games at an early age. It's not that our parents were too old for video games, it was just too late for them to start. What I find is that you can understand and appreciate competitive games/sports a lot better if you've played them at least a little bit at an early age. I think Football is difficult to appreciate if you've never experienced it in grade school, or martial arts if you've never been in a fight. I think video games just don't click with much of the pre-VG generation. I feel this is particularly the case because my friends that are the same age as me who basically ignored video games in their youth are essentially at the same point my parents are, where they can't really get into gaming now because they missed the boat. Even if they wanted to, it just doesn't click.
Though, what happens if and when the OG-VG'ers do "retire". I assume plenty have, and have moved on to new hobbies or simply set gaming to rest. But wouldn't it be interesting if, for example, Justin Wong retired from playing one day and became a coach for a younger generation of players. Imagine a top player tutoring a team of players at a local college. Spending time practicing execution, grinding out bad habits, grinding in good habits, exploring footsies, learning matchups, perfecting setups, mastering a the sense of risk and reward, developing game plans, and just beefing up in general.
It's not something we really have right now. Sure, we practice and study, but not really cooperatively or objectively. We don't have a personal trainer, a coach. Our idea of practice is the equivalent of sparring in that they are just like casual practice matches, but we don't really run drills or take time out to exercise and train specific things with each other. If some one's weak spot is not being able to handle mixups when getting off the ground, when do we stop and have that player let themselves be knocked down so they can practice what to do on wakeup. If some one's weak spot is midrange, when do we record them and review each step of the footage in order to isolate mistakes. We also tend to stick to the same sparring partners rather than getting fully experienced with all forms of play style and character selection from a wide variety of players. We only get that experience at major tournament events a few times a year.
If such coaches did exist though we could have teams that go through this kind of training. And with trained teams, a league with rivalries. And with a league, major events that bring spectators who have team spirit. And with all that, a sport. An E-Sport. It's not entirely far-fetched since it already happens on some level with RTS and FPS genres. There is actually a college league for RTS in the USA that's alive and well. But when is it going to happen with Fighters. Will it ever?
Like I've said before, just imagine the day when a kid gets offered a college tuition because he's a top player in a video game, and then thousands of people tune in to watch college e-sports (video games) on TV. That may sound unreal, but the generation before the OG VG crew is also getting old. One day there won't be anyone left who wasn't born after the first console video game. It's hard to think of it, but there's no one alive today that was born before baseball or hockey in America (they'd have to be like 160 or something). So the number of people that "can't relate" or "don't get it" will grow fewer and fewer for video games just like it did for sports, and the number of kids that are all about it will grow more and more.
But it needs to be taken a bit more seriously though. I think fighting games may one day take bigger steps in that direction, as RTS and FPS already have, but fighters are pretty far behind. There are already leagues for FPS and RTS in America and "professional gamers" in these genres predates fighting games. Just to drop some quick links Johnathan Wendel, Lim Yo-Hwan, and Daigo Umehara. I would like to link Justin Wong's wikipedia article, but apparently there isn't one.
I don't think fighting games are actually doomed. It's just that arcades are not the way for us to go any more. Arcades are dying and that's that, lamenting over the past and treating the future with skepticism and apprehension isn't accomplishing anything -- it's not bringing arcades back nor is it helping to build a future for the fighting scene.
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