Getting Into Gaming: Tekken
I once went to visit a friend who had bought himself an Xbox 360. One of the games he had chosen was Tekken 6. I knew how Tekken worked, and I’d played some Tekken 5 on my boyfriend’s Playstation 2, but I was far from being able to call myself ‘good’ at Tekken. Nonetheless, it reached a stage where I was having to deliberately choose characters I didn’t know anything about to stop beating my friend senseless every round. That’s not to say I’d suddenly become a Tekken prodigy, but rather that my friend is obviously unbelievably shit at it! But the sudden winning streak and introduction to a whole range of new characters ignited an interest in the game I’d never really had before. So when I got back to Grahamstown at the start of the next term I asked my boyfriend to just humour me and tolerate my lameness and my gamers rage and help me learn to play Tekken like a real gamer.
I had originally thought that Street Fighter was the first fighting game, but they’ve been around for a surprisingly long time (since 1976 according to Wikipedia), and I hadn’t realised how many fighting game references I know – like ‘C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!” and “K.O.” – until I started to take a semi-real interest in playing Tekken (I honestly didn’t know what K.O. stood for until then). I find that especially interesting because this was the one genre I had honestly had absolutely no exposure to what-so-ever until I moved into digs last year, and yet I knew all these terms, with absolutely no context to apply them to.
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I’ll be honest: I find it difficult to take fighting games seriously. Yes of course, some people do take them VERY seriously, but some people take stamp collecting very seriously too. I’ve always found Tekken a very silly game, more enjoyable for its laughableness, than for its story line, script writing or character development. At this stage my boyfriend might interrupt and say, “there is a story line”, to which I would answer, “umm… no, not really.” I mean there is some explanation as to how all these people came to be where they are and how they learned to fight the way they do, but it’s not exactly a story, is it? It would be like reading a book where every chapter was a description of each character’s childhood and then in the last chapter they all go for tea together. So I’m going to say: no, there isn’t a story line.
But like I said, the game is enjoyable for its silliness. I do tend to get a bit caught up in it, like forgetting to breathe… and apparently my facial expression while playing is a constant source of amusement for my friends, but it’s not the kind of game I could devote hours of play to or play from start to finish. I prefer to just pick up the controller and play a few rounds with someone and then pass it on to the next person who wants to try. But I’ve now learned enough about Hwoarang, Lee and Raven to be able to actually say I can play as them and Baek is a semi-viable option if I’m pushed.
I’ve been trying to learn combos and actually be aware of the buttons I’m pushing rather than just pressing them all and hoping for the best, because I have a theory that there are three categories of playing Tekken: 1. Noob-cannon, button mashing and thinking you’re really good at the game because better players let you win, 2. Trying to learn to play and getting really annoyed with total noobs who don’t give you a chance to actually do anything valuable, and 3. Being the guy who has to let the noobs win occasionally (or not… it’s an attitude thing). Then, if you’re a friend of mine, you belong in a fourth category where most people refuse to ever play against you again because you’re obviously going to win so why even bother? I like to think I’m now in category 2. I also like to think I never belonged in category 1 because I hate it when people let me win.
I suppose, in a way, there really isn’t anything to fighting games. You choose the character, you learn the moves, you play ‘til you win. Of course there’s a lot of skill and effort involved in getting to category 3 (or 4), and fair enough, not all games can be Portal or The Elder Scrolls, but there really is a limit on how many times I can handle hearing “Get ready for the next battle” in a single day, and more than anything else, my thumbs get freaking sore after a while and that definitely seems like a good time to stop playing! So I can’t say I had a revelation and suddenly became madly addicted to repeatedly kicking some pixels to death, but I did realise that the game does get more fun the more time you put into it (I mean legitimately fun, not like category 1 fun). I do admire my friend who knows almost every combo imaginable and can quite literally beat you with one hand behind his back, but he’s reached a stage where he isn’t really fun to play against any more, and I’d personally rather be able to play a fun casual session and have a good time with my friends, than be able to call myself a Tekken Pro and be totally inaccessible for normal people.