How do I find a fighting game I want to stick to?

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Hey Pat,

I’ve been reading all your articles the past while, they’ve been lots of help especially with things like burnout and practice. One of my current struggles in this golden age of fighting games is committing to a select few games to learn. I love so many fighting games and whenever I see someone do something cool, I’m like a squirrel running to stuff my face with knowledge until the same feeling happens and I’m onto the next game.

My mind for my fighting game growth sees this as a bad thing and it’s almost like I lack an identity. It almost feels like I have fighting game ADHD! You’ve covered the topic before with cross training in fighting games is a good thing but I’m looking to find “the one”. I’d like to be able to focus better instead chugging from the firehose of knowledge so I can see better progress. Have you had similar experiences and what led you to dedicate your time to Rev2 over other games?

Maybe the answer is I just need to play Rev2 haha.

Thanks for all the good stuff!

AKA Buster

Hey AKA Buster,

This is an excellent question! So much of the experience of playing fighting games is learning to go deep and feel the rewards of growing over time, and it’s harder to see those rewards when you feel like you’re constantly hopping from one game to another before anything gets a chance to really click. It kind of reminds me of seeing some of my friends run through the online dating gauntlet; if they’re just there to meet people and have some fun, it’s a good time, but if they’re explicitly focused on finding a Serious Relationship, the process feels completely different because they’re judging their matches based on an estimation of whether that person fits into a specific life trajectory they’re hoping to hit.

The short answer to “What led me to dedicate my time to Rev2 over other games?” is that it took over 20 years of playing fighting games to have the experience and the sense to recognize that Rev2 is 200% My Shit. I do continue to play other fighting games, of course; I still practice and compete in +R and CvS2, and I’ll mess around with whatever the new game of the month is (MBTL, KOFXV, etc.). But Rev2 is where I focus my efforts, and that’s because I feel better about playing Rev2 than anything else. I am not exercising restraint in choosing to play Rev2 most of the time. It doesn’t require effort to stop myself from playing the other stuff. If anything, I have to motivate myself to play around with other games because I know I just want to play Rev2.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. I came up in the arcades, where I’d focus on CVS2 and GGXX but I’d enter brackets for anything we had in the weekly rotation. When Xrd first dropped, I played it alongside a couple other games, and I didn’t go too deep into it. I’d enter Xrd tournaments and I’d netplay a bit, but I didn’t really put much effort into studying the game or practicing anything. I liked Xrd because I liked playing as Chipp, but I was still deep into UMVC3 and SF4 at the time, and I had a stronger connection to those games because I had a stronger connection to those communities. But eventually I decided to stop playing UMVC3 because I saw the kind of work higher-level players were putting in and didn’t want to go there, and then as SF4 was supplanted by SFV and I found I wasn’t into the kind of game that SFV was designed to be, I came back to Rev2 and discovered that it did all the things I valued most in a fighting game, and I’ve been here since.

It’s nice to be here. Most fighting game players are forever in search of the game that gives them all the things they want. Every new game that comes out is a new possible obsession, a new stage with a new audience, a new venue to test your strength and will; a new clout content generation engine, and if this game doesn’t do what you want it to do, there’s always another game coming down the pipe that might be it. But when you know you got something good going on, when you know the game you love is the game that loves you back, you are free from the cycle of desire. It is liberating to stand apart from the never-ending loop of building up hope and hype during a new game release and then seeing it crash against the rocks of reality. You get to sit down and enjoy the games for what they are, instead of choosing them based on what you hope they’ll do for you and who you could imagine yourself being if you played them.

Unfortunately, in fighting games, as in dating and relationships, I don’t think it’s easy to skip to the happy ending. In dating, we smash our lives up against someone else’s over and over again until we’re either stuck together forever or we decide it’s not going to take, and when we do it again with someone else, we’re a little more aware of what we want and don’t want in our lives than we were before. Fighting games are the same. If your attention is constantly being pulled from one game to another, take that as a sign that you’re not quite ready to settle down quite yet and just enjoy the ride. Trust that you’ll eventually find a game that makes you want to play it over the others, ride that wave, and see where it takes you. It may not be love at first sight! In fact, it probably won’t be. I kept Xrd Sign and Rev1 at arm’s length because I wasn’t ready to deal with Elphelt and Ramlethal’s nonstop corner pressure; I came back to Rev2 knowing exactly what I was getting myself into and why I wanted it now and didn’t want it before.

So rather than advise you on how to get there faster, I’d suggest that you have faith that you will one day find a game that makes you feel that way, and enjoy the winding path you take to get there. Yes, it is “suboptimal” in the sense that if you knew where you were going you could start getting there earlier, but since you cannot know that, you might as well just learn what you can from everything you play on your way there.

Because when it comes down to it, the one constant in all your fighting game relationships is you, and while you may not be able to take your SF character into a new KOF, you still bring the same brain, hands, and experiences from one game to another. When I play Guilty Gear, I’m still using plenty of skills that I practiced in a dozen other fighting games, and it was easier for me to get into because I was already familiar with a lot of the systems because I had seen other versions of them in other games. Instant Block is kind of like Garou’s Just Defend, Faultless Defense kind of like a Marvel pushblock, and so on.

It’s not going to feel as immediately satisfying as seeing your netplay ranking change color or your tournament ranking number get lower, but it’s a lot healthier and a lot more fun than trying to force yourself to do something you think you want. And when it comes down to it, anything you can do to make your fighting game as low-stress and comfortable as possible is going to be optimal for encouraging your long-term engagement with the genre, and that, more than anything else, is the real key to successful fighting game play.

You can go as hard as you want to get good in a year or two, but if you churn out after that because you didn’t enjoy the experience, you will not have gotten anywhere close to seeing your full, long-term potential. So just do what feels good, trust that you’ll eventually find something that makes you feel the way I feel about Rev2, and let your heart be open to anything that strikes your fancy in the meantime. Whatever you’re playing now might not be what you’re playing a month or a year from now, but it’ll leave you smarter, stronger, and more self-aware than you were before you started playing it.

Hope this helps! Thanks for your support.

Thanks for reading! If you found this essay valuable and want to support my work, please do not hesitate to share it around on your social channels, follow me on Twitter, check out my Twitch stream (Mon-Thurs 830PM-1030PM PST), or join my Patreon.

💪😎👍❤

-patrick miller

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