I saw some other folks posting about why they were thankful for fighting games earlier in the week, and that reminded me of an essay I’ve been meaning to write. So, here it is.
I take my New Year’s Resolutions seriously. For next year, I’ve been thinking of setting one of my goals as something like for anything I work on, find the most Patrick Miller way of doing it. I arrived at this goal after I found myself losing steam on some side project stuff earlier this year; I realized it was feeling like a drag because I wasn’t doing it with the thoughtfulness and desire to learn that is me at my best. By now, I’m thinking, I should have enough confidence in doing me that I should just Patrick Miller everything, and if the task at hand is not served by doing me, I probably should be doing something else.
We’ll see how it goes.
In any case, I can safely say that any confidence I have in myself started the moment I stepped into the La Val’s Pizzeria on Durant in Berkeley and quartered up for my first game of Capcom vs. SNK.
See, I grew up in private schools where most folks were richer and whiter than I was, but not so much richer and whiter that it was easy for me to tell why I always felt out of place. I was also an insufferable nerd, which didn’t feel like that big a deal when you grow up with the Internet, but it kind of always felt like I was missing a key component of pretty much any interaction with my peers.
But then I started playing fighting games, which led to making friends outside of school, hanging out with college kids, and even going to grown-ass adults’ houses for all-night grind sessions. My first road trip was to Evo 2003. My teenage brain could not comprehend the idea of being around a couple hundred people who were into the same things I was into, even if I knew they existed on the Shoryuken forums.
To me, this wasn’t just something to do to kill time; this was the first time I had ever felt like I belonged. Anywhere with a CvS2 machine became a home that felt more welcoming than any house I’ve ever lived in. And I never had to learn to be someone I wasn’t. Instead, I learned to want to be a better, truer, stronger me.
This is also why it’s really important to me that the FGC we build is as inclusive as possible. That anyone and everyone can feel free to be themselves, be respected for it, and give others the respect they deserve. Because I want everyone who sees something beautiful in fighting games to have the same chance to grow that I did. And if I had ever felt like I was unwelcome, like I was less serious or worthy as anyone else who quartered up, I probably wouldn’t have stuck around.
There are occasionally dipshits who yell about how inclusion comes at the cost of hype — that changing one’s behavior in order to avoid disrespecting someone based off their identity (which is a pretty low bar) is somehow necessary to preserve the FGC’s unique flavor. In my experience, these folks are selfish, have rather low faith in a fighting game’s ability to create hype, and perceive their interest in the FGC as a source of street cred, which, man, if you think you need it, you definitely don’t have it.
Every day I am thankful for the confidence that the FGC helped me build. I’m excited to see us grow and grow up. We’re going to get better at encouraging competitors; we’re going to get better at finding ways for non-competitors to have fun. We’re going to push the kids to grow up; we’re going to figure out how to grow old.
If you’re reading this: Thank you for being a part of all of this thus far, and I hope you stick around and help this crazy thing get bigger and better. As the rest of the world burns down around us, it’s only the stuff like this that gives me hope.
And by “stuff like this” I mean Guilty Gear. Let’s all play Guilty Gear.