I’m back motherfuckers, here to tell you more of my controversial thoughts, because why? Because somebody needs to say something.
Let me talk about something that’s totally unrelated to video games for a moment. I work at a small restaurant where the owners are there daily, and everything is totally fun. I got a raise for telling a retarded joke that my boss laughed at for 20 minutes. Everyone there is chill, we can wear whatever we want, say whatever we want, and talk about any subject, as long as we first and foremost do our work (duh). We don’t have scripts to follow when we talk to customers, and we don’t have to upsell products or credit cards. I really like working there.
I’ve worked for large corporations before too. They do alot more business. The owners of Wal-Mart are way richer than the owners of my restaurant. The owners of Wal-Mart get way more monetary benefits from owning Wal-Mart than they would if they owned one small restaurant. They don’t even have to pay their employees much, hell, they never even meet their employees or know them on a personal level. They think up a bunch of rules because they can’t be present, and they employ management to make sure their rules are followed, and nobody can just wear what they want or say what they want, and definitely no raises are given out for telling jokes.
In a large corporation, the employees suffer. This is a generally understood fact of life, yes? Those that benefit from large corporations are the owners, and the upper management, and the consumers who really have nothing to do with how the store runs and operates. The employees though, are typically pretty miserable.
Now we hear alot of jargon about “small businesses” and how we need to support them, but why? Why does anyone talk about that? Corporations sell us things for cheaper, and why should we care about the employees? They can always get another job, if it’s so bad. And yet, we do all recognize, in one way or another, that large companies are…well…bad. Or at least…not very nice. Some people even go so far as to say corporations ruined America, which I disagree with, but I see where they’re coming from, and I’m sure you do as well.
One might argue that this actually does have something to do with the video game community, and they’d actually be correct, because it does, or at least, it does have something to do with the point I’m trying to make.
I saw the invitational tournament list, and I saw the video - the biggest circle jerk of pretend importance I’ve ever seen - announcing the participants. And I saw all the facebook statuses complaining about who got invited, gender issues, etc. I’m not saying these aren’t concerns, because they are. But I think everyone misses the bigger picture, and if we took care of the bigger picture, all of the little issues that we debate to hell simply wouldn’t exist. I think it’s far too late for anything to change, so I don’t know why I write this, probably because I’m a crazy person who has to write words on blank white pages to maintain my sanity.
You all are excited that smash is this big. You all are glad that Nintendo finally recognizes us, sort of, and made the controller adaptation, and that this invitational event is happening, and that Melee went to Evo, and that we are streamed constantly, and ALL DAT. All that shit. I see why you are, because you love the game, and I love the game too, believe me. It has saddened me to think about the future of smash, because I probably won’t be a part of it, and the game has brought me so much - confidence and maturity and friends and people and connections I can’t even describe. I am sure all of you (99% of you anyway) feel the same way I do towards the game. I see why there is such excitement.
But I’m telling you, smash getting big is not a good thing.
When I say this, I want to make something very clear. My definition of “big” is not “a large community of many players.” When I use the word “big” I use it to mean the “mainstreamification”. That’s not a real word. But it means the exposure of our game in the FGC, our attempts and being a part of the FGC when we never really were before, our new need for streams and viewers, and our departure from our old ways as a grassroots community. Please understand this distinction. With that being said…
I know the world of e-sports has exploded in the last few years, and it’s not just our game, in fact, most of the other games are much bigger than ours. But hasn’t that been the beauty of ours, and our community?
Would you rather work for Wal-Mart, or would you rather work for a small business? You’d want to work for the second one. But if I asked you which one you’d rather own, well, you’d pick the first.
To the majority of players: we are not the upper management, we are not the owners, we are not even the consumers really, we are the employees. And we are affected greatly by how big the game gets, negatively affected, I might add, and we don’t even realize it. Our thirst for internet fame, for gamer fame, blinds us, just as it would if we were lowly managers at Wal-Mart trying to climb the ranks. Because that is what most of us gamers want. We play the game for recognition in some way, we want to be great, we want to be seen as “good” players and we want the respect and even reverence that the best players receive. Just as management climbs the ranks in a corporation for greater pay and power, we want to climb the ranks of our game.
If the game gets bigger, and you are good, you will get greater exposure, greater e-fame, and greater self confidence and greater feelings that you are a worthwhile individual living on this Earth, which is really the desire of most people. It’s something we all want to feel, and most of us feel like we can’t even achieve it because we aren’t good enough. But the game, we can get good at the game, right?
And even when we can’t get that good at the game, which some of us never do, it’s true, we can be famous streamers, or famous TO’s, or famous commentators, or famous article writers, or famous women (thank you, thank you). There are many possibilities for us to get recognized in the community, and we are all hungry for them, aren’t we? And as the game gets bigger, there are more opportunities for more people, and that’s so appealing.
But yet again, I’m telling you, smash getting big is not a good thing.
Your need for importance, your escape into the community for your own wish fulfillment, it will result in a huge loss. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see what we’re sacrificing, because it’s not physical things. So when smash gets big, what do we lose?
We lose the very things our community was founded on. Because we weren’t founded on reaching for our own personal desires. We were founded on the simple concept of playing Smash Bros with our friends, because it’s fun. When you first started playing smash, did you have the goal of being recognized by the community? No. You didn’t even know there was a community. Did you have the goal of making alot of money? No. You didn’t even know there was money to be made. Did you have the goal of being one of the top streamers or commentators at tournaments? No. You didn’t even know those existed. But you knew you liked playing the game, and that you wanted to beat your friends, because winning is fun. That’s all the tournament scene was founded on. Friends, fun, and competition.
How much recognition do you need? How much e-fame do you really require? I might as well ask Sam Walton how much money he needs, and how many more Wal-Marts he needs to open this year, yes?
I am not getting down on you guys, and I am not saying I don’t understand your motivations, and I am not even saying that they’re your only motivations at all. I’m not saying any of you are bad people, or that these are unreasonable feelings. After all, why does anything grow? Why did Wal-Mart become as big as it was? Not, I’m sure, because the department store industry needed another chain. Not, I’m sure, because Mr. Walton simply wanted to spread the spirit of “always low prices” around the country. Not, I’m sure, because it helps the world in some way for Wal-Mart to be the huge corporation it has become. The main reason Wal-Mart grew was because the owner wanted more money.
What have we really gained from smash getting bigger? What has improved about the game? Whose lives have significantly changed since Melee went to Evo? Ask yourself. All of you. Great players and nobodies alike. What have you truly gained? What has truly improved for you? Weren’t great players still recognized in the community as famous and great, and didn’t they still make alot of money? Didn’t all of you still have tournaments, and travel for tournaments? Didn’t you still get enjoyment out of winning? Why do you need more now than you did when you picked up the controller for the very first time? Why are grassroots tournaments no longer good enough? Why does the amount of viewers watching a stream suddenly matter? None of that mattered before. The community existed before. We enjoyed it before. Why is that no longer enough?
It’s true that some of you really don’t think like everything I just described. It’s true that some of you honestly do play just because smash is fun, and you love the game, and you don’t really care about recognition. But I know this is a minority. Because let’s be honest, if this was the majority, I wouldn’t have written this article, because smash would have remained the simple community that it always was. And that is not the case. I believe then, that my words are true. Whether any of you choose to believe me is another matter entirely. I don’t really think that the problems I’ve described will be fixed, because it depends on the majority as individuals (alot of whom are already tasting the sweet nectar of e-fame and are receiving their personal feelings of self-worth) relinquishing their need for recognition in the community for the greater goal of preserving smash as it once was, and I do not think that occurrence is very probable. However, it is possible. And I hope it happens. I really do.
Because, I’ll say it one more time, smash getting big is not a good thing.
And one more thing. The Brawl community, which generously donated the money that sent Melee to Evo in the first place, died. Let us not forget where Melee was before it went to Evo, because believe me, I remember. The Brawl community saved Melee, but Melee did not save Brawl. The Melee community only served to kill Brawl even faster. And I don’t argue that Brawl is a fun game to watch, or even a well designed game, but our community was having fun, and we liked playing it, and so many Melee players have expressed their disdain over and over again for the simple fact that we prefer Brawl over Melee. Which is utterly ridiculous. Who the hell cares what game we enjoy playing? The Brawl community didn’t. The Brawl community was happy that any smash game was sent to Evo. It was on the now-dead Brawl community’s dime that Melee was revived. Nobody should ever forget that.
PS: I am excited for smash4. I really am. I hope it’s tons of fun, and if it is, I’ll definitely start playing seriously again, because the reason I stopped is because tournaments stopped being fun for me. However, I will say this, and I promise it’s true, I refuse to be streamed at tournaments again. Let my results, whatever they might be, speak for me. I don’t agree with seeking fame, and I don’t agree that we need streams or viewers, because we didn’t used to, and I won’t be a part of it. So if you guys doubt my sincerity, think I’m a liar, think I’m a hypocrite, whatever, believe that. I believe in the greatness of my game, and I don’t need to be great myself (I already am). Peace betches.