Performance art

Videogames can often be classified under that heading. I find myself enjoying a great videogame performance by a skilled player as much as I enjoy performing those feats of hand-eye coordination myself.

Whether it’s Daigo’s singularly brilliant comeback victory in Street Fighter III: Third Strike, a brilliant hot lap in Grand Prix Legends, or an amazing speed run of a first-person shooter, these events are fantastic to behold. It’s too bad that arcades are ghost towns here in the US and you can’t see the kind of brilliance in the above clip in person without travelling to a big tournament. There was a time when you could see feats of amazement a lot like that on any given Friday or Saturday night at the local arcade. I miss those days.

I often think about it when I’m at a concert like I was on Friday night. You get that band up on stage and people are cheering and having a great time, immersed in something performed by others. Games are often at their best in a similar setting. People started playing Street Fighter III: Third Strike because they watched the above video. It’s arguably one of the reasons that Capcom has finally figured out how to count to Street Fighter IV.

You have to wonder just how long the idea of online gaming will be called the next big thing. I think there’s a finite audience for that kind of detached enjoyment of games with others. The Wii and games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are bringing people together in the living room and they’re having a blast enjoying games with others. Part of that is the performance of gaming itself. Get mom or dad to swing a Wii remote and they’re laughing at themselves and you’re laughing right along with them. A heated Wii Boxing match is as much about the fight on the screen as it is about the movements of the players themselves.

I want more of this kind of performance gaming and I’m enjoying seeing it thrive. I can’t wait to play Street Fighter IV, but it looks like it’s a home console release instead of an arcade game. It belongs there. I want to go somewhere and fight all comers. The more we come together in the same physical space as gamers, the more gamers we’ll bring together in this hobby. I think it’s also healthier than the road being built by online gaming. Far too many people hide behind anonymity and don’t act as they would in person when given that online persona to hide behind and that keeps it from being as genuine as same room gaming.



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