Evolution 2007 Season Wrap Up
"After another year of Evo has come and gone, I'd like to officially end the Evo Season with one final 'State of the Games' post. I've had a good month to stew on Evo and read the general community reactions and let everything sink in. Thus, I would like to sum up my feelings in one last post."
That's what I wrote in September of last year, and I'm going to do the exact same thing this year. I've definitely had a good chance to solidify my impressions of Evo 2007 and how the games that took place at Evo are doing. So I want to cut right to the chase, but this year I want to have one main topic to focus on: community.
(Same disclaimer as last year: Though I am on the staff, please DO NOT use this article as evidence of any theories you have on what may happen at Evo 2008. My opinion is only one person strong, and over the course of the next few months, so many new games will come out, circumstances may change, and moods can alter so that what I say now may not even reflect how I feel half a year from now. So don't go quoting me as a source of proof that next year will feature such-and-such game or not.)
It's becoming very obvious to me now, after having attended year after year of Evo, that there is really only one driving force for a game. It determines the game's quality of play, its popularity, its respectability, its level of hype... just about every aspect you can think of. And that one driving force is its community.
Granted, this could easily be a chicken or the egg type of question: does a strong community make a strong game or does a strong game make a strong community?
I firmly believe a strong community generates a strong game. And what, exactly, do I mean by a "strong" game? I am referring to how a game is received by the Fighting Game community as a whole, not how well the game is designed and such. Games like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 are hideously unbalanced and there are lots of really bad game design flaws that do not make it a paragon of how to make Fighting Games. So how come it's so popular at Evo? Why does it generate the most buzz and hype of all the games featured at Evo by far? It's because of its community, which is (not surprisingly) the strongest community of all games at Evo. Even though some may find the drama and hype these players get involved in ludicrous, you cannot deny its affects. All the grudge matches, for example, set up by the players can seem overdone, but no one can argue the amount of hype, energy, and life it breathes into a game that is 7 years old. People get excited by this game, even those who don't play it. And it's because the community takes itself seriously, so it knows how to generate interest while still being a fun community.
(As a side note: The community has gone too far on some occasions, testing the limits on trash talking and such, and the community definitely needs to be careful to maintain its level of fun and brotherhood. I like it, for example, when I see Erik "SmoothViper" Arroyo give opponents he has just defeated a friendly embrace. I don't like it when I see him emphatically taunt his defeated opponents. He doesn't mean harm by it, but it can easily be misinterpreted.)
So I don't think there's any question: the players make a strong game. You don't have to even know what's going on in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 to enjoy watching the Finals at Evolution. The enthusiasm of the players just shines by virtue of the camaraderie, the rivalries, and the energy I've already mentioned. And what makes establishing this excitement so importnat is that once that it opens the door for crazy moments like Justin Wong's comeback against Yipes in the Winners Finals at this past year's Evo. That moment was too incredible to behold, and the audience loved it. Events like that just generate more enthusiasm for the game. It's like a fire that fuels itself.
And because interest in this game just isn't waning at all, the current players just keep getting stronger. And new players continue to rise in the ranks, which creates even more excitement for the game. I lamented last year in my previous Evo wrap-up post that it seemed a foregone conclusion that Justin Wong would win Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 year after year. But at this past Evo, Mike "IFCYipes" Mendoza defeated Justin twice to win Evolution 2007. And players like Sanford Kelly, SmoothViper, and Brandon "Demon Hyo" DeShields aren't far behind, meaning that the boring foregone conclusions of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 are a thing of the past.
So how does a community that is trying to find life become what Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 has become? When you are a community for a game like Virtua Fighter 5, a game where calling the community cult-sized would be overly generous, how do you grow to become as strong as the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 community? There's no easy answer to this question mostly because, as is stands right now, the community is so small here in America.
But there is potential. Last year, Dead or Alive 4's community didn't seem like they cared if Dead or Alive 4 succeeded. But the players who enjoy Virtua Fighter 5 do seem like they want to do their part to make the game succeed, and have acted accordingly. The fans of the game came and supported their own game for the Finals on Sunday, even though it was just a small crowd and extremely early in the day. And after the finals were over, Gerald Abraham, a friend of mine from long ago who loves Virtua Fighter, asked me what he and the community could do to ensure Virtua Fighter returned to Evo the next year. It's very refreshing and encouraging to see the players trying to take an active role in ensuring the game survives.
So how did I answer Gerald's question? I told him that it's simply a matter of building the community. Encourage more players to take up the game. Create momentum for the game by throwing local tourneys and making them serious, professional events. Maybe create even larger national gatherings. Get people used to traveling for the game. That last point is particularly important because of the potential popularity generated from the game's release on the XBox 360 with online play. Perhaps, unlike Dead or Alive 4, Virtua Fighter 5 can develop a strong enough online community that is willing to travel and attend the various events, including Evo. It's by generating their own noise that they will give Evo every reason to bring them back.
And the beauty of it all is that they aren't limited to just one year. Even if they can't create a strong enough community by Evolution 2008, that doesn't mean they are done for good. They can just continue building up an American Virtua Fighter community and if it gains enough momentum, it can return to the line-up even after a year or two's hiatus. I'm sure many people doubt that it could truly happen, but you cannot find a better example of this happening than Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Third Strike has had, for the past few years, the most number of contestants out of all the games at Evo. But does anyone even remember when Third Strike was removed from Evo because of how unpopular it was?
How could this be? How can a game originally dropped due to unpopularity eventually become the most popular game at Evo? I don't know how many people remember the "Third Strike for Evo!" avatars that peppered the Shoryuken.com forums during the year it was dropped. The players pushed for the game and tried to rally as many people as they could to their cause. And then one very important thing happened for that community: America found out just how bad we were at the game.
They found out in two ways, and I largely credit these two things for being the catalyst to Third Strike's revival in America. The first was the 5 on 5 U.S. vs. Japan special event that occurred at Evolution 2002. The degree by which the Japanese team slaughtered the American players was almost obscene. We witnessed true Genei-Jin combos live for the first time there. We saw crazy unblockable setups from Urien that we didn't even know existed. We saw Twelve (Twelve! Who is the worst character in the game!!) turtle everyone to death. It was jaw dropping.
The second thing that helped revive Third Strike was a 5 on 5 video that crept its way onto the internet that same year. This one, however, was Japan vs. Japan. But the enthusiasm and excitement displayed by the Japanese players (the crowd noise was audible in the video) was incredibly infectious. The video stood out mostly due to the super high level of play on display. It was the first glimpse of what Makoto could really do (she had crazy near 100% combo comebacks on a poor Chun Li and a poor Akuma) and also stood out as, in my opinion, the birth of the crowd chants to Yun's Genei-Jin combos (that "Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay! Ayyyyyyyyyy!" chant that people always do during Genei-Jin combos these days). That video made Third Strike look incredibly fun.
(Note: special thanks goes to YouTube user "Sf3lp" for having this video hosted.)
And as a result, players began studying the Japanese strategies. They found out there was so much more to the game than they thought. And then the players did exactly what they needed to do: they built their own community. They threw their own tournaments, they developed their own top level players, and they made sure it was a game that was continually discussed and talked about. And because of that, Evo added it back into its lineup. And were it not for the community getting the game back into the lineup, we would have never had the greatest moment in Evo history: the Daigo Parry. That created a whole new group of fans and players and generated even more interest in the game... so much interest that Capcom obliged the Third Strike community by releasing the first arcade accurate home version of the game in Anniversary Collection. Again, a fire that fuels itself. And now, the rest is history: it's the most popular game at Evo.
(As a side note: It's almost too popular, to be honest. It's at a state that Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 used to be at. Third Strike has so many players that the quality of play is a bit watered down. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 at one point became kind of boring to watch, and until Duc's comeback in 2005, the game was on the verge of being dropped from Evo because we weren't seeing anything new and hype for the game reached an all time low. But since then, Marvel has shed some of the excess players who weren't actually dedicated to the game. So while the community is still large, it's also now more focused -- leaner, so to speak -- so the level of play actually is still improving, even at the highest levels. Third Strike needs this. The community needs to improve its overall skill level because it still feels like we have little chance of taking the crown from the Japanese players. This needs to change. I hate saying that the game needs less players, but it almost seems that the community needs to trim its fat and become leaner just like Marvel. Either that, or the entire community needs to get better. If that happens, players will be forced to play better overall (no more easy matches). And the chances of us defeating the Japanese players will finally increase.)
Just look at Super Turbo. It's the only game that the Japanese also play as dedicatedly as America that we've actually defeated them at Evo (Jason Cole defeated Nuki in 2002, and Alex Wolfe and Jason Nelson took 1st and 2nd away from Tokido in Anniversary Edition last year). And that's because, in this day and age, in order to play Super Turbo you have to be good. In just about every game at Evo, you can hope you fall into an easy bracket or an easy pool to improve your chances to make it far. Not in Super Turbo. In Super Turbo, there are no easy brackets! And that's because just about everyone who plays the game is an expert. You're almost guaranteed to have an Alex Wolfe or a David Sirlin or a John Choi or a Seth Killian or a DSP or a Jason Cole or an Afrolegends or a Chris Li or an NKI or an Alex Valle or a Graham Wolfe or someone else that's insanely good at the game in your pool or bracket. And because there are no easy paths in this game, the only way to win is to become better. And thus, the overall quality of play has increased drastically.
Were it not for dirty Tokido tactics (playing what the Japanese refer to as "Hyou Bal" -- click here and look for the profile on Japanese player "ARG." Special thanks to Nohoho for having these profiles of the Japanese players on his blog), the Americans would have come away this year with a decided victory over the Japanese. The Japanese players brought over two of their most dedicated Super Turbo players who happen to be two of the best (if not the best) Dhalsim players in Japan: Gian (Evo 2005 Super Turbo winner) and KKY. And neither of them made the top 8. This is all because Super Turbo has such a dedicated community, and so many of the experts even to this day still try and improve. It's a small community, sure. But I believe that is why they continue to improve. The rest of the community has tp train harder to even stand a chance against the experts. So now, the experts have to improve more to fend off the strengthening community. Which then makes the community train harder to improve even more. Once again, a fire that fuels itself.
It'll be interesting to see what happens when the new Street Turbo HD edition drops onto XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3 next year. Anniversary Edition and Capcom Classics Collection has already increased Super Turbo's popularity amongst Fighting Game aficionados. This new version with updated graphics and online play and new rebalanced mode (if it turns out to be good) could very well throw a whole new set of players into the mix. I'm curious to see how the influx of new players will affect the community. I will say that the new players will definitely benefit from the wealth of knowledge from the experts (for some reason, it seems the Super Turbo experts are the most willing to share strategies amongst new players). By having so many expert players willing to disseminate knowledge, the casual fans can quickly become hardcore fans.
But what if there are no casual fans willing to take that next step to becoming a hardcore fan? If this happens, the community becomes stagnant and doesn’t grow. If we have the same players finishing high in the tournaments year after year after year, that's actually not a very healthy sign for the game. While it’s great to see consistency being shown by the top players of a game, you do wish to see that new faces are trying.
This is the weird predicament that Capcom Vs. SNK 2 is currently in. The top players in America have gotten good. Really good. I mean, really good. But the problem is that no one else is going along for the ride. If we look back at the American players who have finished top 8 in the past four Evos (2004-2007), we see only six names: Ricky Ortiz (thrice), Justin Wong (thrice), Kim-Hahn “Ohayo1234” Hoang (twice), Peter “Combofiend” Rosas (thrice), Campbell “Buktooth” Tran (thrice), and John Choi (twice). And outside of those six, only two other players have also cracked the top 8 from the U.S.: Eddie Lee in 2004 and Gene "Hail and Kill" Wong in 2006. That's the entire U.S. representation of Capcom Vs. SNK 2 for the past four years at Evo.
It’s great that these players can remain so consistent in the game, but isn’t there anyone up-and-coming? The biggest hopes seem to be the aforementioned Gene “Hail and Kill” Wong and Evo 2007 East winner Nestor Corchado. But from the rest of the community, we just aren't seeing anything new in the game anymore. We need more up-and-coming players to really add variety to the game. Right now, everyone who watches Capcom Vs. SNK 2 probably believe that in order to learn the game, you need to learn A-Groove Bison, Vega, Blanka, or Sakura. But in a conversation I had with Kim, he pointed out that players in Japan have started using teams to counter those characters... teams that use Grooves and characters that most people would not expect! For example, at a pre-SBO tournament in an arcade called Mikado in Japan this past summer, in a tournament attended by a few of top U.S. players, the grand finals were between K-Groove Ryu/Kyo/Sagat and C-Groove Dhalsim/Maki/Rolento! And the C-Groove team won without even needing Rolento in the final match!! U.S. play needs to reach this point as well, but it just doesn’t seem like there are enough players out there to push the envelope in this game.
Don’t get me wrong: the Finals for Capcom Vs. SNK 2 this year were at the same skill level I raved about last year. But somehow I get the feeling that we’ll be seeing those exact same six U.S. players again next year. And as much as I am a huge fan of all six of them, it’s more fun to know that other players made them really work for their top 8 finish. Right now, I just don’t believe it. It just feels like these six guys are far better than 99% of the field. There needs to be more players -- new players -- ready to take the crown, not just a couple of standouts like Gene and Nestor. With that, Capcom Vs. SNK 2 will grow and we'll start seeing more variety in the Finals, which can only benefit the game and its community.
Okay, going into theory mode here: so let's say the community does step it up. Will that then automatically start this whole "fire that fuels itself" phenomenon that I keep talking about? Sadly, the answer is no. Once more players step up, one more thing needs to happen: the community needs to start taking itself seriously and make sure they are represented well.
And right now, no community needs to heed this more than the Guilty Gear community. After a couple of severe missteps at this past Evo, the Guilty Gear community will need to do some work to show that they are indeed worthy of the same respect afforded to many of the other Fighting Game communities. This is a challenge that they should be issuing to themselves, and it has nothing to do with what Evo thinks. Because, as I've mentioned with the Third Strike example, Evo will listen if you make some noise first.
The Guilty Gear community has a reputation of being, for lack of a better word, lazy. They do little for self-promotion. Most of the other communities have their celebrities and widely respected players. Their most staunch supporters fight very hard to make sure the game is respected and its popularity is increased, such as in the aforementioned tendency of Super Turbo players to give new players lots of high level strategies. But for some reason, the Guilty Gear community just doesn't seem like they care enough, so the game is never taken seriously. And this is a huge problem.
And it's not a matter of trying to get others to take them seriously. It's a matter of its own players not taking themselves seriously. This is a huge shame because Guilty Gear is such a good game, with great character variety, the need for a ton of technical skill, room for a huge amount of mind games, and really stylish visuals as well. And it's a shame even more so because the American players seem to be improving quite a bit in the past few years. This community deserves a ton of respect and this game should be far more popular than it is, so it can't afford to make any more missteps.
So what are these missteps? One misstep that occurred at Evo this past year still boggles my mind. At the end of the semis for Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, three of the four teams had already qualified for the Finals on Sunday and only two teams remained, needing to fight for the last Finals spot. And the two teams, which knew each other and were on good terms with each other, decided to take a break and leave the ballroom to go and rest and discuss... something, I dunno what, before playing their match. Maybe it's because I'm one of the tournament organizers, but this move is just inexcusable.
Okay, they did ask the person running the brackets if they could take the break and that person said yes, so they are entitled to their break. That much is not their fault. But the mere fact that the question was even asked is still crazy to me. I'm not sure how to express my dismay other than it just feels so unprofessional to me. Evo is run on a tight schedule and we are trying to do our best to make the event as professional and reputable as possible. No professional sport would ever let you delay the 4th quarter of a game because the players wanted a break or wanted to discuss things. Both teams were almost disqualified when we couldn't find them to play their final match after they were gone for over 10 minutes. We had to call the two teams on their cell phones numerous times before we finally got them back into the hall to play the last semis match. Even if I were in that position and wanted a break, I would make sure I'd be back in 5 minutes or remain close to the game area to be back at a moment's notice.
And yet, the other misstep was even bigger, and many people have already heard about this. For the Finals, there were 11 players total that filled up the final 4 teams (three players on each team and one team only had two players). When the first match was scheduled to start, only 4 players out of those 11 were physically there ready to play their match. 7 people were missing! Eventually they all showed up, but only after many, many, many phone calls and after delaying the start of the finals by over 30 minutes. The last player didn't even show up until just before the final match up, lucky that his team even made it that far.
Many use, as an excuse, the early start time of the finals (11:00 a.m.) as to why this happened. But one game took place even earlier (Virtua Fighter 5 was at 9:30 a.m.) and when I opened to doors at 9:30 to call in the top 8 players for Virtua Fighter 5, all 8 players were there and ready to go. So the early start time simply isn't a good enough of an excuse. Any Guilty Gear player even trying to make excuses for those who didn't show up is wasting his or her breath. The community should be apologizing for the players who didn't show up because, again, it just ends up being more evidence that the community doesn't take itself seriously enough.
To make matters worse, many hardcore Guilty Gear players didn't even show up to watch the Finals, even though they started 30 minutes late! And that, to me, is the biggest sin. Why? Because this year, American Guilty Gear players had their best showing. Four Japanese teams played in the tournament, and only two made it to the Finals. And then FlashMetroid's team (with pretty much 100% of the work being done by only two the team members: Alex G. and FlashMetroid himself) powered their way through the Finals, defeating one of the final two Japanese teams on Sunday to make history by being the first time the U.S. has scored 2nd place in a Guilty Gear tournament at Evo.
The. Place. Should. Have. Been. Rocking.
Guilty Gear is one of those games where it is just assumed that the Japanese have a distinct advantage over the American players, making it a foregone conclusion that a Japanese team would win Evo. In fact, most probably predicted the four Japanese teams would finish 1st through 4th. And there was no evidence that the American players were reaching a point where they could give the Japanese players a good challenge. But when FlashMetroid's team defeated BAS's team (filled with three very deadly Japanese players: BAS, Mint, and Kami-chan), a huge step forward was taken for American Guilty Gear players. Thus, the Guilty Gear community should have been there to not only witness it, but to cheer Flash's team on. The room should have been electric!! But instead, it was really subdued.
So what does this all add up to? Well, frankly, the Guilty Gear community has made lots of claims that Evo doesn't like them; that we don't take them seriously. It simply isn't true. Many people on the Evo staff like Guilty Gear a lot, and still play it or have played it before pretty enthusiastically. It's my second favorite Fighting Game right now, right after Super Turbo. No, the Guilty Gear community needs to take a look in the mirror and realize that they don't give anyone enough reason to take them seriously yet. I don't want to hear any more excuses from this community: no one is out to get you. There are a ton of players for this game, it's a great game... the formula is all there already. Now it's time for them to make sure their game gets represented properly.
So if your game is scheduled for 11:00 in the morning, you show up at 11:00 in the morning. I know I know... how can you expect people to show up for an 11:00 a.m. game in Vegas, right? And be loud? And be raucous? Well, guess what? The Tekken community did it at Evo 2006. And they were loud. And they were raucous. And the tournament was really exciting. And that's because their community is dedicated to their game.
What makes it all the more impressive is that I don't think there is any crossover between Tekken players and the 2-D games. There are a few players that may play both Tekken and one or more of the Street Fighter games, but for the most part I believe they are pretty isolated from each other. So when Tekken players come to Evo, they are coming for Tekken and Tekken alone. And year after year, this community does a remarkable job of representing themselves at Evo. They don't complain, they don't gripe. They, instead, just make their presence felt. There was, at one point, a huge ruckus going on in the Bring Your Own Console area, and I naturally assumed it was the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 crowd being their usual loud self. But when I went back there to check it out, it was actually the Tekken crowd! And during Finals, it's even louder. These guys get really, really hyped up for their game, whether it's at 11:00 in the morning as the second game on Sunday or later at night as the second-to-last game on Sunday (as they were this past year).
It was also very helpful that Namco released Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection on the PlayStation 3. Last year felt a little bit like a disappointment for the Tekken crowd because Dark Resurrection was out in the arcades, a version most players feel is a big improvement over Tekken 5. So when they were forced to play the regular Tekken 5 instead of Dark Resurrection, I'm sure it was a bitter pill to swallow. But things definitely were back in full swing at Evo this year, now that the players got to play on the latest and greatest version of the product. We'll have to see what Namco's timing is in regards of releasing Tekken 6 into the arcades and the consoles. Hopefully, a repeat of Evo 2006 doesn't occur.
I personally don't have a lot of interaction with the Tekken community, so it might be unfair of me to comment on it much. But from what I can tell, they definitely make the most of their moments. In a tournament where 3-D games don't get as much emphasis as the 2-D games, it would be easy for the Tekken players to be bitter and feel that they aren't wanted. But no matter what, they show up and play and prove year after year that they are the premiere 3-D crowd. Again, in 2006 when they were relegated to 11:00 in the morning, it would have been really easy for them to cry foul, especially since in 2005 they were the 2nd to last game featured on Finals Sunday. Instead, they showed up at 11:00, their crowd got really into it, a lot of excitement built up for the game, the players milked their time slot for everything they could, and they were rewarded with being returned to 2nd to last game to be played on Finals Sunday. In turn, the audience was treated to some great drama and a lot of passionate players.
And Tekken definitely doesn't have to be bitter anymore. Although for a while they may have felt like the "outsiders" of Evo, that status has definitely been handed over to another game. Now, the most isolated community is the Super Smash Bros. Melee community. They have definitely taken the crown for the community that has every right to be bitter. Their game is never taken seriously by a large amount of Fighting Game players. Their game is always seen as "kiddie." Though they were a part of MLG, they were always relegated as a sideshow. Halo was the main event of MLG, and Smash was just a group of little kids, shunned by the Halo players and thrown into the back corner to play their tournament where they wouldn't disturb Halo. These players never seem to get any respect.
And yet, they are the furthest things from being bitter. I kept saying that the Guilty Gear community needs to learn to be professional and to take themselves seriously. Well, the Smash Bros. community is where they should look for an example. Just as with the Guilty Gear community, The Smash community has a game that some people frown upon. Both communities have players that have a bad stereotype associated with them (Guilty Gear players are often accused as being weird, anime-loving otakus and Smash players are always accused of being 6 year old Pokemon-loving kids or something). As a brand new community added to the Evolution line-up, the Smash Bros. players had every reason to come is very skeptical and behave very poorly.
But instead, they decided to prove why they deserve respect and why they deserve to remain at future Evolution tournaments. The players came out in droves, becoming instantly one of the largest tournaments at Evo in terms of number of contestants. The players showed up for the pools on time and were extremely cooperative with whoever was running the brackets. There wasn't even a big stink made over the decision to turn the pools and semis to best-of-1 game. The players were not happy with the decision, but they played through it. And no one seems to believe the results were "tainted" by that rule change. And on the Finals of Smash Bros., the community was there in full force, cheering their game on. It didn't seem like they were worried if non-Smash players were enjoying it because they were enjoying it too much themselves to care. But because their crowd added a lot of energy to the game, it ended up making it that much more fun for those unfamiliar with Smash to enjoy it as well.
And that's why I like this community so much. They know who they are and they know where they stand. And they are better off for it. There were two main things that surprised me about this community. First of all, they are all very competitive and skilled, but were extremely good natured and friendly to each other. There was a lot of respect among players. Someone joked to me how footage of Smash players involved more handshakes and hugs than any other game.
The other thing that really surprised me about Smash was how deep its history is. From talking to the top 8 players that qualified for the Finals, I was very pleased to discover just how much the community has gone through and grown. It was almost as if Evo had just walked into a movie that was already in progress. There were stories of Ken's early domination and subsequent early retirement... only to return to tournaments for this past Evo. There were stories of East Coast dominance being threatened by an emerging group of top-level West Coast Smash players. There were stories of wanting really badly to prove that certain perceived mid-tier characters could dominate. And there was a lot of stories regarding their history with MLG (both good and bad).
They already have their celebrities. And with them, they could have their upsets and grudges and hugely anticipated matches. They are already a fully established community and, frankly, even if Evo never picked them up or drops them next year, I can't imagine they would lose any momentum. And I took strong notice of that. This community has already built itself up and is already self-sustaining. It's a model Fighting Game community.
The Smash community should be used as a blue print for many of the other budding communities. Whether you are King of the Fighters fans, Melty Blood fans, Arcana Heart fans... hell, even Street Fighter Alpha 3 fans, the key to getting your game into the lime light is building up your community. Everyone likes to say that being included in Evo is what breathes life into games. While I do admit it helps a lot, I still believe that a game thrives solely on its community. It has very little to do with the inclusion into Evo. In fact, inclusion into Evo is usually the result of a strong community or a potential for a strong community.
So this is lesson for today: if you want to see your favorite game thrive, do your part. A game is nothing without its community of players. Just start that fire, and if you continue to support your community, the fire will continue to fuel itself.
P.S. I may have sounded like I came down pretty hard on the Guilty Gear community. I think I'm particularly harsh on them because I love Guilty Gear so much, and I hate seeing it hurt itself. So in its defense, I have to say that Guilty Gear has a couple of things going against it that definitely hurt its cause. Communities like the ones for Tekken and Smash Bros. stand out as isolated communities because their games are so unique compared to the rest of the games at Evo. Guilty Gear seems to be stuck in the shadow of the other 2-D games. Thus, the Guilty Gear community does have to do more work to make their game stand out because it falls under so many comparisons.
Another problem is that ArcSys keeps releasing new versions of the game without giving the U.S. enough time to let the game settle here. Until just a month ago, the only way to grab copies of the game to practice on was to import the game, which made it doubly hard for the players to even practice at all, let alone develop high level play.
And the last thing going against Guilty Gear is its intimidation factor. The game is so complex compared to other Fighting Games (What's a Burst? What's the difference between Gold and Blue Bursts? What's a Roman Cancel? What's the difference between normal and False Roman Cancels? What is up with that character that carries around that giant key? Why does that other character sometimes have a dog and sometimes have ghosts helping him? What is going on?!? ARGH!!!!). It's so complex that many players who don't already play the game are just reluctant to pick it up. And they have trouble watching the Finals because they just don't understand what is going on. I have casual friends who I can get to play just about any Fighting Game, just not Guilty Gear.
Someone needs to be an ambassador to the game and help bring in more players. They need to help those who don't know Guilty Gear learn how the game works. I would love to see the game thrive. It's one of the deepest Fighting Games out there right now. It deserves to thrive.