An in-depth analysis.
Even though video games all together has turned many people into competitive gamers, a lot of gamers tend to stick with their strongest genre, or the genre in which they perform their best in when competing in tournaments. Aside from the casual gamer in all of us that would gladly play any and every game ever made, when it comes to competing in tournaments, each genre varies in game style, strategy, mindset, and skill set. When you find the genre that fits you, competing in multiple genres at the same time can be tricky. However, at the same time, competing at a high level in multiple genres can expand our ability to think out side of our cliche metaphorical box, and take us to another level of strategy, reactions, and even instinct.
Personally, I love shooters and competing in shooters. Since Counter Strike for PC, many moons ago, I always remember enjoying shooters. Naturally, they became the first genre that I ever competed in. I mostly competed in local tournaments at random game stores, video stores, and LAN centers where I eventually won my first tournament ever in Halo 2. Fourteen at the time, it was definitely my favorite thing to do, so I kept playing, competing, and grinding it out in the Halo series. There just wasn’t anything like being in the grand finals, so hype to play that my hands were a little shaky… My heart pounding in my chest so hard, I felt like I would be able to see it if I looked in a mirror. Then coming down to the final kills, trying to keep my nerves under control, palms starting to sweat, then finally! You win, and the crowd goes wild! Well, the 15 person crowd… but hey, I felt like I was on top of the world! I gladly took my prize money and free shirt and went on my way.
I competed more and more in shooters as time went on and I never really ventured much outside of shooting games when it came to competing in tournaments. As I started getting more serious with competitive gaming and began to make my baby steps into the larger tournaments like MLG and KOTC, I started to run into a serious problem, finding a team. In the beginning, free-for-all tournaments were my thing, but I knew the real competition was with the 4v4 tournaments. In an era where females competing in games was just beginning to grow, I ran into a lot of problems being able to solidify myself a spot on a committed team because the mentality that “girls aren’t good at games” was still a pretty strong mentality.
Obviously, that stereotype is still pretty strong, but females in the competitive gaming scene is definitely more accepted now. After dealing with this problem for so long, I ran into an opportunity to compete solo, which were fighting games. Little did I know, this was about to start a long new journey for myself. I learned that although each genre may have their own complexities, fighting games definitely opened my eyes to a completely different kind of strategy and mindset. Even though I was good at shooters, it was back to square one when I decided to learn and compete in fighters, but most of all, a very difficult square to start on. I do not feel as though someone could pick up a fighting game and win in a matter of weeks. Some games might provide a lot of leeway when it comes to that statement, but over all, I feel like there are a lot more little details and intricacies in fighting games that will ultimately separate you from being good and being the best.
When it comes to competing in shooters, the main things to know are things like map control, weapon control, respawn points, weapon respawn times, team work, and things similar to gaining as much control over the other team as possible. Now, fighters may have the same general concept of gaining control over the match and pulling it into your favor by limiting the opponents options, but the things you need to know to take you to the next level are things like frame data, character knowledge, match-up knowledge, being able to read your opponent, reactions, whiff-punishing, and so much more. Even though it feels like completely different styles, the overall mindset that you have in both genres can easily work hand-in-hand.
For example, competing in fighters has helped me think about, not only my opponents next move, but consider all of my opponent’s options and how I can limit as many of those options as possible to land my hit. Bringing that over to shooters, I know that I can ricochet a grenade off of a wall to cover a corner that my opponent may be rushing from while looking from another angle to try to catch the flank. I would compare this to throwing a Sonic Boom and then getting ready to anti-air them if they jump.
Another thing that fighters has shown me is my ability to find the safest ways to approach a battle. In fighters, I will utilize the best normal and special moves that give me safe strings, have good hitboxes, high priority, or an advantage of some sort. Learning the importance of safe pressure, has made me more efficient at using my tools to give myself an advantage, whether it be placing myself a few steps behind a pillar on the map that will cut off the view from one enemy while I am battling another to prevent myself from getting team-shot. By giving myself the advantage, I might be able to make it through my first firefight and take down another enemy.
On the flip side, something shooters has shown me that improved my gameplay in fighters would be my reaction times. Being able to react quickly in shooters is important, especially in games like Call of Duty where the first shot is all you need, or in Halo where the first shot can give you the upper hand when entering a BR battle. The reactions I gained by playing shooters helps me with key motives in fighting games like whiff punishing and anti-airing. Even though I am not at a top-player level in fighting games, I do believe that I am understanding and learning a lot of fine details about the genre that are important to learn if you are trying to get to that level.
Since playing and competing in both of these genres, I feel like I was able to open up my mind in different ways thanks to the different techniques and intricacies that I learned through both games, and improve my gameplay as a competitor overall. But there can be a lot of different things that could prevent a gamer from embarking on a new genre, new scene, or new challenge. One thing could be that it is a lot of work. Players who are at the top of the rankings know that it took them a long time to get to that stage. Do they really want to start over at the bottom of the food chain? It is unlikely because balancing multiple genres can definitely take away from your over all quality of gameplay if you cannot micromanage your practice in both genres. Especially with the growth of competitive gaming as a whole, and big money can be on the line, it may just not be worth it to start over somewhere else. However, things as simple as that could be the determining factor in what sets you above the average competitor.
Sometimes, it isn’t just the game that can stop a competitive gamer from stepping into unknown territory, and that is because unknown territory is exactly what it is. Every genre carries their own scene, their own type of people, their own lingo, and their own flavor that makes that scene what it is. Even though we may all be gamers, when it comes to the genres, I tend to see communities clash with one another. Have you ever seen shooting gamers in a fighting gamer stream chat? And vice versa? Endless chat arguments and name-calling. It’s unfortunate, and most of the time it is just people online being people online, but that could ultimately turn someone off to trying a new genre.
The possibility of starting over in a new genre will definitely raise the question of who to learn from, who to practice with, and where to find the best tips or information. Unless you have a friend or group of people to practice with and learn the intricacies, it can be difficult. For instance, when learning fighters, if I didn’t have someone to give me the heads up that there are such things as unblockables in AE2012, would I have ever found that out on my own? Being brand new to the genre? Most likely not, but in time I would have. Which ultimately leads to the feeling that I would be too late in the game to catch up, so I should just stick to what I know.
Shooters and fighters are not the only games that can go hand-in-hand when expanding your competitive strategy as a whole. A lot of games that you play every day can subconsciously train you to be better at another game. Games like Galactic Attack and Aegis Wing can show you how to be aware of your surroundings, knowing when to dodge and weave, how to get through tight spaces in a short amount of time, and avoiding anything that is of harm to you. That same awareness can carry over to other games too. Imagine playing against Morrigan/Doom in UMvC3 and act like you’re playing DoDonPachi instead. That might ease the tension for you a little bit.
At the end of the day, the choice really lies with you and how you want to expand your competitive experience and your gaming experience in general too. Not everything will come down to tournaments, the love of the games and the fun in gaming alone can take you to another level. Everyone starts somewhere, so it’s never to late to try something new, it’s just a matter of how much work you’re willing to put into it. But the real question is, do you think playing and/or competing in multiple genres can improve your gameplay overall? Will being a well-versed gamer give yourself an advantage in any way? Can techniques from multiple games transfer over to other genres and bring light to new options you may not have noticed without playing a wider variety of games? Answering questions like these will bring you straight to decision you want to make, but even if competing in multiple genres isn’t your cup of tea, I will always suggest that you play as many video games as you can get your hands on. There are so many games out there waiting to b eplayed. All games good, bad, and ugly, deserve to be played.