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Ask ROCsteady!

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Hey Gaymers! This week's question is from Robert, who has a query on fighting games! Remember to send your questions to my mailbox for a chance to have it answered on Gaygamer.net! All questions are great as long as they relate to gaming!

Dear ROCsteady,

I love fighting games and really enjoyed hearing Wootini and you talking about Marvel Vs. Capcom 3! Trouble is, I'm not very good at them! My boyfriend however is very good at them. Good enough to play in tournements all around our county. He has been really loving and supportive, offering help and some training but to no avail. I just can't seem to get into the groove with them. I know you play lots of fighters so can you offer any advice to help me improve my game (and maybe whoop my boyfriend's butt?)

Robert

Make the jump for my response

Dear Robert,

Yes, I have played a lot of fighters. Some as mainstream as Street Fighter and some as obscure as Melty Blood: Actress Again (Persona meets Dark Stalkers). I am currently knee deep in Street Fighter 3rd Strike, relearning some timing and getting reacquainted with parries. However, even having played these games I am by no means a top tier tornament player. In fact fighters didn't even start to make much sense to me until Soul Calibur 4 came out in 2008. Until then I was a pure button masher, getting frustrated and mystified as to why I was racking up the losses. I felt like I was wasting my time.

When I picked up Soul Calibur 4, I went through the roster, sampling each character and mashing the crap out of the buttons. Sometimes winning and sometimes losing to the computer. My play style was based on pure luck but you can be sure that when I came to a live player it never went well. And since it was online there was no shortage of them! I met lots of new friends on the GayGamer Forums who inspired me not to give up and to find a character that appealed to my tastes.

My new friends encouraged me to try out some basic combos so I went out and purchased the Soul Calibur strategy guide. If you don't have the extra cash lying around you can also find plenty of clinics online, like at Shoryouken.com for most Capcom games, and you can check out ROCsteady's own mini clinic here. Using the guide I messed around with some the suggested basics with a character that I felt fit my play style. I went with rapier-bearing "Amy." There was something about this girl that just jived with my brain. She is quick and direct. Perfect for me.

During those early days (and even today when I am learning new characters and mechanics) I focused on the precise imputs suggested by the practice combos in the book and slowly began to see why button mashing quickly led me to the KO screen. There was no real strategy to my game and as I learned the timing, range, and limitations of my chosen character I was suddenly pulling off combos, parries and cancels like it was nobody's business. In time I actually surpassed my friend from the forums in terms of skill and strategical finesse. The game took on a new meaning for me, opening up all sorts of play possibilities and strategies and I began to see fighters for what they really are: a living, breathing game of chess.

I have found that like chess, fighting games also require the problem solving skills necessary to plan strategies and to be able to read your opponent. What makes fighters sometimes even more dynamic is the need for solid hand-eye coordination and lightning quick finger reflexes. Here we are working with muscle memory and control imputs that can be on par with some of the more difficult to learn musical instruments. So don't beat yourself up. Unless you are a natural D-Pad/Fight stick virtuoso lots and lots of practice is required to become a seasoned player.

Don't stress it though. Practice and training can be very rewarding and it sounds like you're lucky enough to have a sparring partner that appears to like fighters and you a whole lot! I remember playing hours a day with a boyfriend last summer so I know that the combination of the two can be great together. We would get so heated up while playing together that it almost always led to a few more "loving rounds" when we finished training. Talk with him about what works for you and what you really need from him when it comes to training. This includes some time for you if you decide you want to work on mechanics on your own. Sometimes a guy just needs his space.

With all of this exciting stimulation it is no wonder we love these incredibly difficult games. They provide rich experiences that force us to use our minds in new and different ways and can bring us closer to one another in more ways than one.

Robert, it looks like you have all the tools necessary to move forward with your training and it sounds like you have been on the right track all along. Keep playing and practicing and loving your boyfriend and above all "enjoy the ride!"

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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