Let me start with the boldest of disclaimers for you fair reader, I have never played Smash. I’m not even a follower of Fighting Games in general. A combination of it not being my preferred genre of game and just never having anything close to exposure from its community either. But what I am a big fan of is Esports. In fact my entire career is based around this industry, my passion derived from its lifeblood in the community.
I’ve been involved in almost every community under the sun, from the volatile Counter-Strike community to the obsessed Starcraft 2 community, from the dedicated WoW arena gladiators to my old Halo buddies. One community that has always alluded that sentiment however is the Smash community. My first impression on hearing stories of the fabled weeklys was already one of awe, these guys still play a 15 year old game almost every single day and they freaking love it, travel around the country and build a true local scene like no other game in the UK that I’ve witnessed.
I’d like to just state that I was actually working in the LAN centre that this particular monthly event was taking place so I wasn’t even a participant. But over those 10 hours I got to spend with the Smash Heads I gained a good list of reasons on how they managed to make me fall completely in love with them.
For starters, as a general target demographic, gamers are stereotypically socially inept. Through no fault of their own, most of us still probably have those memories of rough times in school where our love for gaming was a “shameful” aspect of our personalities, maybe for us older lot anyway.
But in this case I quickly learned to never ask Smash questions to a Smash head unless you’re ready for a full history lesson with to the date accurate meta shifts, bug exploits and the most powerful characters in the game (F*** Fox and Ice Climbers apparently?!), I’ve never had someone go from completely mute to talking for Britain as fast as some of the guys I met at yesterdays Melee Monthly.
This kind of level of interaction with a new comer shows love and passion for a hobby that is widely misunderstood from an outsiders perspective and one of the reasons that makes gaming and Esports so important to all of us. I wont name any names but in other gaming communities, being a second class citizen would be a step up to how newbies are treated.
People were always friendly, wanting to chat to me about completely unrelated subjects, losers would laugh it off and winners would perform battle shouts at every victory. Chants and inside jokes in full force and most importantly this was all within a group of people so vastly different in so many ways, connected with their love of Smash.
I met a Father of one of the competitors, for the purpose of the article I’ll be calling him Bill. Bill is my new hero, as a father myself, I aspire to be like Bill. Bill spends almost every weekend travelling to a different city taking his son to these various different events. He knows almost nothing about Smash and plays absolutely no video games what so ever, Bill if you’re reading this then I want you to know. That’s mighty fine parenting Bill.
Gaming culture as a whole possesses a vast and broad spectrum of people from different cultures, ways of life, sexual alignment and races. But I had the pleasure of witnessing a myriad of different people who had absolutely no qualms with being around others that would more than likely get strange looks when walking down a street for looking “odd,” but here these 30 odd different people could be who they wanted to be. To be a part of that sanctuary was magical to say the least.
Although arbitrary as this article may be to some, my experience with this community blew my mind. The combination of the online keyboard warrior pandemic, anonymity and the stress of teaming with random strangers just doesn’t exist in their world. Their community is right next door where as the rest of us are still arguing with people in different countries who whiffed that shot or who made the wrong call diving that tower.
The Smash community should remain proud of their grassroots, it’s a culture and community that is pure of heart and involves little to no negativity or toxicity. It’s a community I believe a lot of other communities could learn from, it’s a community where they all still remember why they’re all there in the first place, their unwavering and irrevocable love of the game.
Smash Weekly: Real Melee Hours At TSG In Cardiff.