Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, me, and the physical world

I was really quite excited when SSFIV:AE went on sale on Steam a little bit ago. I’d been waiting for it to go on sale for a while, and so I snapped it up.

My favorite fighting game, to be honest, is still Mortal Kombat. It’s a fairly simple game, and I played so much of it at such an impressionable age that I’m still pretty solid at it. But I’ve messed around with emulated versions of it, and it’s disappointing– one of the really satisfying things about the MK series on consoles is how snappy it is. The emulated games are fairly sluggish, by comparison, which defeats the purpose, I think. As I see it, one of the satisfying things about fighting games– and about a lot of video games, more generally– is that they let you get into this rhythm, you get a sense of flow.

So back to SSIV:AE, to fast-forward a couple of weeks. I’ve been putting in time, regularly, at practicing. I’ve found the character I prefer, have gotten a sense of his normals, learned his specials, am working on his ultras (and his super, to a lesser extent), and… I’ve plateaued. I’m still just a bit above mediocre– better than someone who’s playing it for the first time, but not great– and not even progressing, really. I’m depressingly inconsistent on his ultras, even though they’re something I’ve been working on a lot.

This isn’t a surprise, though. At some point, Nietzsche talks about how the body can have a sense of humor. One of the humorous things about my body is that it has these ironic ways of reminding me– much as I hate it sometimes– that I’m most suited to living in my head. I get filled with wild pride, or I start fantasizing about becoming a physician, and then I drop something while I’m trying to make tea, an activity I do on a daily basis. These things remind me of the frailty and flaws of my physical existence, as talented as I occasionally feel at other things.

I think I would have had a different childhood, and a different life, if I had been better at video games. I would have been the one playing, rather than the one watching. I would probably have played more, and read less; been attracted by the reality more, and the possibility less. There may even be something to the thought that I would be inclined to action, rather than reflection and abstraction, if the things that shaped my relationship with the physical world had played out differently.


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