The Evo World Championships, The Irish Fighting Game Community and How A Sense of Belonging to Benefit You Greatly.
Well, the last weekend was insane and no, it wasn’t because I was drinking, it was because I was watching the EVO World Championship series, which took place in Las Vegas during said weekend and most of my time was taken up either watching, talking about or following the event, which culminated with me travelling up to Dublin with 2 of my fellow fighting game members to an all nighter in a gaming café to watch the finals.
‘ Woah, slow down Adrian! What the hell is the EVO World Championship thing all about!? ‘
OK, I guess I should elaborate more then. EVO is a video games tournament, specially a fighting games tournament, think of Street Fighter and that sort of games that are played. As I mentioned, it takes place one a year in Las Vegas and attracts players from not just America but from all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Australia, England, even Ireland had people playing there to name a few. The event is also streamed, though given the time differences, it wrecked complete havoc on sleep patterns as the good matches only started happening at 4am Irish time on the Friday night / Saturday morning!
As I mentioned, I travelled up to Dublin on Sunday for an all night gaming session in a gaming cafe with other members of the Irish Fighting Game community so that I could also watch the finals at the same time with a group of like minded people. It was Hype! ( Hype = Extremely exciting ) My voice went hoarse from shouting at the stream so much and I was jumping around like an idiot cheering at some of the matches ( video proof is here – I’m the guy in the white t-shirt sitting behind the guy with the beard to the right. )
I’ve being a part of this community for over a year now, truth be told, fighting games were always something I had a passing interest in but with the advent of Xbox Live and Street Fighter 4 – I was able to find and connect with other Irish players which is how I got involved myself. Well, actually to make a bit of a story out of it, it stemed from pretty much an impulse buy of a version of Street Fighter 4 and an xbox live card to get online again, the rest was history.
Unlike other online communities in the past, this was one where it was actually possible for me to meet up with the people I talk to online in person – This was unheard of from me with other communities I was part of in the past. Going to my first tournement where I made my first public appearance in the community was a nerve-racking experince but after that, it became so much eaiser and I’ve gone to enough events and tournaments now that I’m not phased about it at all.
The main thing I’ve gotten out of all, apart from getting really good at Street Fighter, is the community aspect. I mentioned in my last post, I’m an introvert who doesn’t really have many friends who I had something in commom with. Before I joined this community, I can tell you there was a lot of anger within me. Anger at the world, authority, my family, my peers. Basically, I felt I had nothing in commom with anyone I knew and if I did, it was typically online and those people were too far away from me to ever meet up with them.
This made me upset and there was times I wanted to lash at those who caused me so much grief, trying to change me into of what they thought I should be and not seeing examples of people thriving being similar to me, it was a miserable experince. While I had overcome the feeling of there being something wrong with me many moons before, I still had no feeling of belonging to anything.
In short, things fucking sucked. Then I join this community and over the course of a few months, I noticed the anger I had felt had begun to fade. I think going to that first tournament was the turning point for me. The community was no longer just a online group – they were real people right next to me, playing me and quite frankly kicking my ass ( as they would do to all first timers in general. ) That was the sucky bit, losing badly those first few times but over time, I’ve gotten a lot better but that is beside the point.
The fact that my anger was fading had huge effects in other areas of my life, I began to open up more to people, got closer to my class group in college and began to feel that anything was possible for me. I’ve become more bold and less likely to look for permission to do something – I’ll just do it anyway. I’ll do things not for popularity or attention or a piece of tail but more because I want to. Basically, I’ve become more open that I ever have being.
If you told me 2 years ago that I was to find my sense of belonging in group of Street Fighter players, I would have looked at you strangely because of all the lecturing I had gotten in the past from peers about how playing video games was bad and that I needed to ‘ man up ‘ and all that crap that I believed BUT as I learned, the universe has a way of being ironic – The thing that gave me a new lease of life is the same thing that others had told me would ruin me!
The lesson is simple: We all strive to belong to something. If you feel you can’t find what you truly belong to, you will be more likely to be a shut out to the world and less open to the goodness that is in everyone. All you need to do is find that one that makes feel alive when you do it, it could be anything, be it something commom like sports or something off the beaten track ( Of course, I don’t recommend criminality or other illegal activites. )
Once you find it and it may take some time, it will make feel alive inside and then all other areas of your life will light up. It is really that simple.
P.S. One of the items of my Infinity List is ‘ Go to Evo. ‘ This is the tournament I was referring to. I am now seriously considering going to Evo 2012.