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August 8, 2017 / Jett

Playing Video Games for Fun vs. Playing Video Games for Sport

I am a lifelong video game fan. I’m also a fan of playing fighting games at a competitive level. While both paths allow me to enjoy video games, they diverge in very different ways. Playing video games for fun usually means playing lots of different types of video games. Playing games for sport generally requires you to focus on playing one game until you have hit a certain level of mastery. It’s very hard to do both.

Last year was a very big year for me in terms of competitive gaming. I participated in a number of Street Fighter V tournaments, including my first tournament win at the WorldGaming regional finals and 17th in the national championship. In order to get to that level, I was playing Street Fighter V non-stop for like five months, building off of years of experience with Street Fighter IV and other fighting games. Part of my motivation to play was that I really had fun with the game and wanted to be good with it. But it also came during a time when there wasn’t much to play.

Despite having some great momentum, my training has largely fallen off a cliff. First, Pokemon Go came into my life, inspiring me to travel around my city in hopes of catching them all. Nowadays, I’m absorbed into all things Nintendo Switch. It’s great having compelling new Nintendo hardware that actually has cool games to play on it.

Fighting games, or any competitive games for that matter, can be enjoyed at whatever commitment you want to put into it. There are people who are more than content to simply button mash their way through battles, and if that’s what they like to do, great. For me, I love the process of learning the ins and outs of a fighting game and playing it at a high level. In order to do that, you need to put in a lot of time and effort to reach a high level of competency, which eats away at the time you could be spending on playing other cool games.

At some point, I want to build on my past fighting game success with more appearances and placings at tournaments. However, it flies in direct conflict with me enjoying other cool games, which I’m not ready to give up right now. I don’t think it’s realistic to have the best of both worlds, so I pick and choose what works best for me right now. For the time being, that means the fightstick stays on the shelf until I’m ready to throw down again.

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