It’s not odd in a gaymer circle to hear people talk about RPGs. In those games, the player assumes a role and is whisked away to another land. Often in a queer person’s youth the idea of becoming someone else in a fantasy land is a dream come true. Growing up, I played my share of Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy, and any other RPG I could get my hands on. Then the day came when I rented Super Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo. It was at that moment where I realized that fighting games were my passion. In fact, I think fighting games helped me fight back against those who teased me.
I still remember my first couple of days playing Street Fighter. I started off by picking the pretty boy Ken (’cause blond hair = yum). I practiced his move set every day. Down to forward + punch. Down to back + kick. I remember practicing so much that my thumbs ached from that plastic joypad. But I eventually got to a point where I felt like I was in complete control of my character. Ken became an extension of myself to the point where when I finally beat the computer-controlled M. Bison, I knew it wasn’t just luck. It was me out there, kicking his ass. Little did I know that these skills could empower me later in life as I went out into the real world and faced a world that was every bit as oppressive as the Shadaloo regime.
Fast forward a couple of years and generations of fighting games. I often found myself in the arcade, giving up my hard earned quarters for the chance to challenge people face to face. My training as a young kid payed off as I found I was actually pretty good! I now found myself drawn to the female characters such as Cammy, Psylocke, Ling Xiaoyu, Jun Kazama, etc. As a closeted young teen out in the wild, who knew he was different but unsure how, I saw that the community surrounding the fighting games was not very welcoming. The roar of competition really brought out the most misogynistic of people as I was sometimes chastised for playing as the “pussy females”. That community, while I never really talked to them much, was representative of those bullies that surrounded me every day at school.
In a way, getting better at fighting games was my way of fighting back. Fighting against the strongly testosterone-fueled fighting gamers by strolling up very timidly, placing my quarter on the screen and proving my ability. To me, unlike RPGs where I could be be whisked away from reality, fighting games allowed me to fight back in THIS reality. Regardless of how much my opponent may have given me a strange glance, once that “Round 1″ screen disappeared, it was on. We had a level playing field in which I could prove my worth. My opponent became those guys in school who wouldn’t talk to me, or the guy who called me a “fag” on the bus. And the thrill of watching that guy sulk away in defeat when the match was over proved that I could beat them all.
The fighting game genre is one that I feel gets very little attention from the gaymer community at large. Its not that I don’t have fellow gay friends that like fighting games. But it does seem to me that as a whole, the LGBT community is widely underrepresented in the fighting game community. Much of that probably stems from the homophobia that seems to permeate fairly regularly at fighting game gatherings. I’ve gone to my share of fighting game events and even covered EVO for Destructoid, and heard my share of undesired language. But I’ve also gone to these events and felt completely welcomed because when it comes down to it, the love of the game is the great equalizer.
Part of this article was to introduce myself to you guys. I’m sure I’m not the only gay male who loves to play fighting games and in the future I hope to increase the amount of fighting game coverage on this site. So to all my fellow fighting gaymers out there – Let’s fight back the perceived homophobia of the fighting community by showing that we do exist. We are gay and can kick your ass. Just give me a fight stick.