Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where I come from, and where I'm going.

All is well, when I can see where I'm going. I've spent the majority of my life enjoying video games. I've always felt compelled to do it. I could play any game and after a short time, wouldn't be able to stop without coersion. Where other top players may have functioned because of discipline, I functioned almost purely on compulsion. While watching a movie or hanging out with friends my mind would always drift off to my latest obsession, be it Beatmania, or MVC2 or Street Fighter 2 turbo for snes, or MVC3. Those around me would always say I was never present, because at every opportunity I'd find an excuse to get back to it sometimes leaving friends and family feeling neglected.
 Somewhere along the way, I began playing tournaments and money matches. When I first started, the money from both was inconsequential. I was more concerned about the prestige, and trying to master my nerves. I used to tremble physically such that it was visibly apparent. The sick feeling I felt in my stomach, the clouded perception that I wanted to conquer was my motivation. I knew the only way to conquer it was to put myself in that situation as much as possible. With time I would overcome it. My way of approach was to money match every individual that was willing even if I knew I would most likely lose. I wanted to become steel. Unshaken, unwavering, able to perform the most difficult tasks with perfection under critical circumstances.

I learned that the longer the set went, the more my opponent could adapt to my gameplay. Gimmicks might work once or twice but after that I felt bare. Keeping that in mind, I realized it was important to find alternatives to every reset I had. Every opener needed an alternative that would mislead my opponents to incorrectly recognize an identifier, which would cause them not to see it. In order to truly maximize the potential and depth of my characters, I decided it was important to play only those characters. Meaning in mvc2, I played MSP almost exclusively. In the arcade, I can say I've played non msp teams less than 50 times over the 10+ years that I played the game. Eventually I felt I know the intricacies of my characters. I felt that no matter how much you adapted, there was always another trick up my sleeve. Over 30 matches I felt I still had enough to feel comfortable.

While I was satisfying my compulsion, I was constantly reprimanded by my family for playing video games. They always warned I'd receive carpal tunnel. I was told that I was wasting my time/life by playing video games and that I needed to stay in school and pursue music. During this time music gigs which were only on the weekends gave me enough to be comfortable with no more than 5 hours of my time every week. Having started with those gigs at 18 years old, I didn't have an appreciation for money as it came so easily from doing one of my other compulsions, Music. The constant badgering from my family eventually led me to the conclusion that in order for them to respect, accept and appreciate my passion for video games, I'd have to make more money from video games than I had made from music. I didn't realize that my conclusion would actually kill one of the most important aspects of gaming for me.

Considering I had already developed the habit of entering any tournament possible and money matching anyone willing I didn't think it would be that difficult. As time went on, I developed my skill in the game, and made more and more money from money matches. Tournaments weren't nearly as successful because I had trained myself to sacrifice early matches for educational purposes, allowing me to completely dominate the match as I began to understand the current mindset of my opponent. While in longer sets this lead to pretty convincing scores. 10-3, often times with me losing the first 2 matches... in a 2/3 I would struggle. Almost always losing the first match and squeezing by match two and winning match 3 a little bit more comfortably. Unless I was playing those in my own hometown that I was comfortable with and had already "downloaded" the results were poor.

Eventually the money matches increased dramatically in size, and I was the premier participant. The 3 biggest money matches in MVC2 all included me. Winning those matches and coming home with very large amounts of money changed the mindset of my family. I was no longer pressured to pursue music, but lightly encouraged. My family would no longer talk about my video games sardonically. To the contrary, they would brag about it to their friends. I felt comfortable doing what I wanted to, but I identified money as the reason for that comfort and I can't say that I was completely wrong there.

When Mvc3 happened, I wanted to pursue it from a tournament perspective. I recognized that it was going to be the most popular fighting game stateside and that if I wanted to make it anywhere with gaming in this era, tournaments were essential. My family around this time was beginning to really encourage me to drop gaming and focus on music again. I insisted that I could do both, and pursued fighting games while doing music when I wasn't satisfying my compulsion for gaming. At the time most of the money from my previous money matches were gone and I was struggling to travel and get to events. Most of the time that I did travel Knives or MMDS or even Tekken Tim were my means of doing so. They all believed in me enough to invest, knowing that if I was ever successful, I would return the favor.

Things started out slow and the pressure from my family increased steadily until I started doing well and once again bringing home money. While I started out playing the previous generation of fighting games out of love for games and with an interest in being the best because of my competitive nature. I started the next generation with an interest in making money and only cared about trying to be the best because it would increase net profit. As things ran their course, I eventually picked up a sponsorship that truly gave me more support than any of my friends or family were capable of. Beyond financial, they supported me morally and helped me realize some of my dreams.

I was approached by Sebastian "Onehandedterror" Jennings to join PDP. The idea sounded amazing, at the time I was doing a lot of business with Eightysixed Clothing, but still unable to travel without paying out of my own pocket. While the offer was nice, I very much remembered the help I had received from Knives and decided I wouldn't leave him at eighty sixed alone. I told Pdp I was only willing to join if they would take on Knives as well. Sebastian told me that they weren't really interested in stick players and that it was most likely a no for Knives. I felt like I was gambling with a huge opportunity, but I refused to join without one of my best friends. Eventually he got back to me and told me that we were both approved I couldn't have been more excited.

The support I got from pdp was most likely more support than any other player would receive from their sponsor. Sebastian studied all of my matches and would tell me things to avoid. Suggest teams for specific matches, and would congratulate me after every match I ever played on stream. He was always watching. He took care of all flight and hotel arrangements, even sending me to Texas for a tournament with only one day's notice. If ever I did something out of line, he would patiently tell me and I felt compelled to correct it. I felt obligated to try to repay him in some way. Once the promo code idea came up, I told him that I was going to sell so much product that PDP would give me a salary, and would give him a raise. He would laugh and tell me to worry about me and that he would be o.k. but I meant it when I said it so that was what I set out to do. To repay him I made pushing product my focus as I felt that was the best way to help him as far as and AGE was concerned.

 I would look for every opportunity to advertise and consequently, my spiel became a meme eventually. Sebastian was happy with my sales and in the beginning I was both selling and placing very well. The better I did, the more acclaim AGE got and that allowed Sebastian to pick up more players for AGE. He always spoke of how he wanted to try to give as many players an opportunity as possible. His philosophy was that the more players traveled to events, the bigger they would get as individuals, and the bigger the scene would get as tournaments would have many more prestigious players in attendance and therefore more high quality matches. Initially he wanted only pad players, but he soon began sponsoring pad and stick players alike. More so than just a manager that arranged our flights and hotels, he would mentor those of us who were receptive and open to it. Even reminding us to prepare for opportunities that could include leaving pdp for better. I have yet to find anything better. In a lot of ways, Sebastian put his job on the line for team AGE. Pushing for budget increases to meet the demands of the team and sending us out to literally every event we asked for even though sometimes, the exposure from some of them didn't justify the cost. He just seemed to hate saying no to our requests.

After picking up ChrisG on team AGE, I didn't feel nearly as pressured to perform. I felt that the tournament results easily handled by Chris which would mean I could focus more on sales. I practiced less and less and spent increasing amounts of time on League of Legends. While Sebastian did place high value on FGC results, he didn't mind me taking a break and would even ask me how I was doing in League of Legends. While I was playing casually, he told me that I could play anything at a compettitve level with the right dedication. His exact words were "I'll support you no matter what game you want to play." He had gone beyond the role of sponsor and had become a friend. He wanted to see me succeed whether that meant benefits for or not, It truly meant a lot to me.

As I played LoL more, my frustration levels increased. My temper shortened, and I began snapping at my fans and followers in misdirected anger. I developed the habit of blocking those with negative attitudes on LoL and eventually twitter as well. The reputation I had for being open and casual with strangers in person was the same, but online, I was fierce and very sharp tongued. I allowed the negativity that I experienced in league of legends affect me to the point that I became increasingly cynical.

 During controversial moments my sales would increase. I learned that any attention, both negative and positive increased my productivity with Pdp. So at my own discretion, I chose to use that to my advantage.

Doing well in sales but not in tournaments did a lot to my confidence. I eventually got to the point that I expected to lose every match. Being unable to compete at the high level was unfamiliar for me. As a result I lashed out at everyone, fans, family and friends. I let my insecurities best me there.

Eventually I was told by those who I valued that I was changing into something that I wouldn't want to be. I can't explain exactly how, but eventually it registered with me that my lack of humility was repulsive. I wasn't as meek as I was when I first started the askfanatiq show. My patience and tolerance was shot and I had embraced that.

 I find myself compelled to play marvel now. Random thoughts to test come to my mind while playing and watching. At random times, I turn the game on and play. It's rather unfortunate that I don't have anyone to practice against consistently. To compensate, I try to practice random characters, with the notion that doing so will still keep me sharp as far as engine mechanics are concerned, and it will be less tedious.

 Though my music has been developing pretty fluidly, I'm going to try to give fighting games another serious go. Not for the money, or recognition. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of competing at high level again. For those whom I've offended, I apologize. I have a strong sense of gratitude for those who despite my short comings continued to believe in me. I appreciate the patience of my sponsors, and the fgc as a whole.

In my stream earlier, I had communicated to my regulars that I like to write things down as it was like making a promise to myself. With it written, I can no longer deny that this is my true goal. I will show the fgc that I can contribute in a positive way. I promise not to post empty material to gain attention. I will show respect to the tournament organizers who truly are dedicated to the fgc.

 I don't really care to proof read this so I'm sure there are plenty of grammatical errors. I hope that these can be ignored and you can read this for what it's worth.