I really enjoyed Patrick’s original Fighting Game Primer that he wrote on Insertcredit.com a few years ago, and it’s a very pleasant surprise to see him developing that piece (which was built around teaching SF concepts using Ryu as an example) into a full-fledged eBook.
I was suspicious- him going silent in terms of content output right before EVO made me wonder if he was working on something big. And this Primer is definitely a humongous labour of love and will prove very useful- I’m going to send this to all my neophyte SF playing friends.
Reading through it for the first time, what hit me hard was this:
“Here is the thing: Fighting games are not actually that hard to learn
how to play, and play somewhat competently. But they’re very hard to
And I wholeheartedly agree.
This year I’ve been doing a fair bit of teaching. There’s been a influx of new players at CCH and I’ve been trying to teach them as best as I can. I’ve even been sinking a good few hours into teaching intermediate players like Kris Staltare, teaching the basics of footsies and practice regimen. At Couchwarrior events at conventions and things I’ve also raised my hand to do “Learn how to play SF” sessions and one time Felix and I even went out to an New Game Plus event to teach kids how to play Street Fighter.
Teaching Street Fighter is really hard. It is frustrating, and can be annoying. People don’t want to listen, they find the basic mechanical motions really hard even before I start explaining any basic gameplay stuff, and most of the time they just want to see a flashy combo than to learn any concepts of fundamentals. It’s quite disheartening to sink half an hour of patient instruction on a kid and they simply revert back to mashing the buttons like crazy once you exit training mode.
Don’t get me wrong though. I love teaching Street Fighter. While I’ve even attempted to teach SF over the years to my friends and failed miserably with a retention rate of 0%, it is still really rewarding when you teach a crowd of kids, and perhaps 90% of them lose interest after ten minutes and leave to go play Fifa 14 over in the corner- but just one kid sticks around. You can see the gears in his head churning. He’s pressing the buttons slowly and deliberately, trying to wrap his hands and head around a quarter circle motion. A lightbulb goes off in his head when he successfully crouching fierces my jump-in.
Those little moments; that gleam of intent in his eyes, that shake of the head and squeal of joy- of learning- that’s what keeps me going.