Rise of the Fighting Game Community is a relatable, personal and at times, intimate journey that I enjoyed watching from beginning to end.
Watching the fighting game community grow and evolve has been one of the most fascinating aspects about the video game industry. Fighting game tournaments are extremely entertaining to watch even when you don’t fully understand all the elements that come into play. But once you understand certain concepts and have a grasp of the game’s main mechanics, fighting games can be extremely gratifying. This film tries to explain what makes the genre so appealing to so many people from around the world.
Anyone who follows the fighting game scene will recognize most of the interviewees, which include commentators, players, sponsors, developers and so on. The best part about these interviews is that these luminaries are able to articulate everything that you need to know about fighting games to watch this: what’s the FGC, what’s a fighting game and there’s a brief description of the Japanese arcade scene, the different tournaments, EVO and more.
But the most these people (who clearly live and breathe fighting games,) try to explain fighting games, the more you realize how important the human elements it is in them. If you really think about it, games are just convoluted clusters of code that only a handful of people are able to read and edit, but to professional video game players, they represent the possibility of proving they are better than somebody else, forging friendships, traveling around the world or going to tournaments.
For a long time, the FGC was a fervent, but relatively small and fragmented body. But that changed when Street Fighter IV came out because the game was the perfect combination of old and new and was a shot in the arm that the genre needed. The immense success of the Capcom game brought back a lot of people to the community, at the same time it encouraged other companies to make their own, weird fighting games. Despite its immense popularity, Street Fighter is just one of many types of fighting games: there are also three-dimensional, anime, tag-team fighting games and the list goes on and on.
Regardless of which fighting game you play, all roads lead to EVO. What seems like the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world EVO is also an annual gathering for people who have a similar taste and the competition is actually put together by fans which is something I can appreciate, especially when you see what’s going on in other games in terms of production (League of Legends, Dota 2.) Also, EVO’s open to anyone who can travel to Las Vegas for a weekend and pay the accessible entry fee which is true to the arcade spirit.
Finally, some of the issues associated with the community are also brought up (the depiction of women and sexual harassment, among others) which is important to be aware of. But while these issues are mentioned in the film, they aren’t dissected or discussed in any meaningful way which is a shame because it proves that maybe the FGC isn’t ready to have that conversation yet.
Rise of the Fighting Game Community explores the past, present and future of the competitive scene that surrounds the genre and it does that convincingly and in an entertaining manner. The film can be appreciated by newcomers and fans alike, but the best part is that this is both entertaining to watch and educational. It can be a bit unfocused at times and I feel like it shied away from raising some important problems, but this is a relatable, personal and at times, intimate journey that I enjoyed watching from beginning to end.
Editor’s Note: The reviewed version of FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community was watched on YouTube where the complete movie’s available for free for anyone to watch. Additionally, a deluxe version can be purchased on the documentary’s official website for $9.99.