A BGG’s Journey through the Competitive FGC Scene: The Beginning

A BGG’s Journey through the Competitive FGC Scene: The Beginning

Dragon Ball FighterZ came out on January 26th and ever since then I’ve been grinding the hell out of it. Everything about the game captivates me: the colourful graphics and sharp animations, the depth of the mechanics and philosophies of team strategy. I’ve spent the past two months learning the slickest combos, trickiest mix ups and tightest block strings so when I saw that the new Red Bull Gaming Sphere was opening up in Shoreditch, I saw my first real opportunity to test myself. I put on my newest, freshest Nike Air Max and headed right into the heart of gentrification capital.

The fighting game community in the UK has always been a diverse group. The genre grew up in the arcades, the arcades used to be everywhere in working class communities and London’s working class communities are as diverse as they get. But I knew that when I rocked up to this newer, cleaner more corporate venue I was probably going to be one of a handful of other girl gamers there. In fact, I was the only girl gamer competing in my event out of 62 participants and as far as I could tell the only black girl gamer in the venue. So when I was asked to play my first match on stream, against a fairly confident looking bloke and what felt like the entire venue crowded around my set up… yeah, nerves doesn’t describe it.

But before that let’s take a little detour into the relationship the fighting game community (FGC) has with women. As you’d expect, it’s complicated. On the one had there is a growing number of women in the FGC making waves; big tsunami, run-for-your-life-massive-threat-incoming kind of waves. Yohosie, Infinitii, Palushina, Tanukana, Romanova and many more amazing players and community contributors are joining the ranks of classic legends like Ricki Ortiz, Gllty, Kayane and others. It’s fair to say the increasing respect and recognition women are getting in the FGC is palpable.

But, on the other hand, there have been recent scandals involving powerful and popular men in the FGC abusing and exploiting women and people actively covering things up. No doubt there have been many in the past we’ll never know about. There was also the furor last year when well known figures in the NRS scene trashed The Sirens (a dope all-women’s team) for being an all-women’s team (for the purposes of validating a ridiculous argument we’ll ignore the countless all men’s “brotherhoods” that have always been a part of the FGC, without question…).

High profile players – and I mean really high profile, EVO top 8 and sponsored – have made disparaging comments about black girl gamers being “ratchet” and actually uninterested in fighting games or that a guy’s fighting game career is over when he loses to a woman in tournament.

And let’s not forget that women players are always questioned on our knowledge of the game. On whether we’re playing because we actually like and understand the game or are we playing for our boyfriends (fun fact: some of us have girlfriends, eek!). And increasingly we’re questioned on whether we’re “real” women or transgender, to the point where some players have felt pressured to share their passports on social media to prove what’s in between their legs (the answer by the way is: trans women are real women).

So, going into a competition as a woman is not just nerve wracking for the obvious reasons, but there’s an added pressure to not let other women down. To not be the woman who shouldn’t have entered because she actually doesn’t have the knowledge, reactions or execution. A lot of us go into tournaments with the added anxiety of not wanting to muck up so badly that we confirm what many people in the venue and in the stream chats are probably thinking: she doesn’t have the slightest clue what she’s doing.

So back to my set. The first match was a disaster. I pressed buttons at the wrong times, blocked the wrong way, dropped combos. You could say I was playing auto-pilot but even auto-pilot flopped: I was just not on course. This loss caused my nerves to shoot right up, my hands were shaking on my arcade stick, I was legit shaking all over and I found it difficult to focus. As someone who’s made speeches and done talks to audiences of hundreds of people I did not expect this level or nerves playing a video game.

Thanks to some stellar advice from Captain Reckless, C4IQ and A F0xy Grampa (thanks boys!) I managed to collect myself a bit and clutched out the second game. After that I knew I could beat this guy and got into my groove, dominating the final match with all three of my characters still alive at the end. I won my first set, conquered the nerves, and made someone a lil salty: good start.

I got sent to the losers bracket the next match by a sponsored player, so I couldn’t be too hard on myself. I then eliminated two guys from the competition before being eliminated myself in round 5. But the main thing is, I didn’t go 0-2, thank the gods. In fact, I did okay for my first ever serious tournament in the second fighting game I’ve ever seriously played.

Now I have a better idea what to expect from a tournament, including, but not limited to, mental torture, the sweet and sour mix of sweat, body odour and Lynx deodorant, excruciating hunger and dehydration I feel much better prepared for my next tournament on the 28th April. Wish my opponents luck, because I’m out for blood…

To be continued.

Why I created BGG.

Why I created BGG.

When I was growing up, gaming came into my life in the form of a Nintendo and hasn’t left since, but as I grew I began to feel more and more like this was community in which I was: 1, an outsider, and 2, invisible — because of my sex and race.  This didn’t just stem from personal experience either.  Yes, sure, I held resentment towards the young boys that never shared their consoles when I visited or the ones that thought my love for gaming meant my unicorn hand should be promised to them in marriage.  But I noticed that a lot of other gamers had something that I didn’t. Something that would help make my gaming experience ten times more enjoyable, community.

So in 2015, after abandoning my own personal gaming channel pursuits and being fed up of experiencing both direct and indirect misogynoir whilst gaming/streaming/breathing as a black female gamer; I created the Black Girl Gamers community on Facebook, inviting a few women I had met via Blerd (Black Nerd) Twitter.

Three years later, the word had spread and the community surpassed 1500 members attracting the interest of platforms such as BBC 4 Women’s Hour, Broadly/Vice, GAME digital, Blavity and more.

“Jay-Ann Lopez’s online community Black Girl Gamers is a safe space for women of color who feel otherwise excluded from gaming” – VICE

During this time I became more vocal about the lack of authentic representation of Black women or characters in games.  The reason for the inauthentic representation is clear; there is also a lack of diversity behind the screen…

the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) surveyed 963 people working in the games industry and data from respondents found that when it comes to diversity, 74% of workers are cis males, 61% are white/caucasian/European, and 81% are heterosexual – Mashable.com 

If you combine this with the fact that even POC in the industry may have subconscious bias to view whiteness as the norm, then it becomes clear that the apparent “push for diversity” is a superficial attempt.

After understanding the state of “diversity” in gaming, or lack thereof, it’s obvious to see why games and development companies lack adequate representations of Black women/men and/or people of colour.  This negligence that Black people, Black women in particular, feel in the gaming/streaming community isn’t new though.  We experience it in many facets of life until we say “F*ck it, I’m doing it myself” — this is how BGG came into existence.

 

Concept development of our BGG characters.  Art by Chris Brunson (@zionarca).

Black Girl Gamers has developed from solely being a safe space to being a progressive one; with this website providing a platform for Black women to voice their opinions about all things gaming. Granted, there will be some opinions and sentiments that not all Black women will agree with because we are not a monolith – and that is the point of BGG; to increase the visibility and influence of the variety of Black Women that support the gaming industry wholeheartedly.

In addition to our gaming content, store and website, we aim to nurture relationships between BGG game developers and companies in order to help facilitate the goal of equal and authentic representation.

I am so grateful to the BGGfam; our supporting network consisting of people from all walks of life that understand our goal and are not threatened by it. To those who find an issue with this community, that’s okay, it’s not for you.

Photo of BGG courtesy of GAME digital (Belong by Game)

Sul Sul Cell Phone! Sims Mobile: A Review

Sul Sul Cell Phone! Sims Mobile: A Review

 

What is it?

Sims Mobile is an EA mobile game based on a combination of Sims 4 and Sims FreePlay. It dropped on March 6th, 2018 –and the reviews are a mixed bag for sure. So I figured I’d toss mine into the mix.

 

 

Customization

Like most things, I have given up on creating character that look like me in MOST games, especially mobile. This is a “freemium” game, so I wasn’t too surprised that nothing resembled my natural hair, but I still found enough to work with to make a cool character that I enjoy. Plus as I move up, I get to see preview of the quality content awaiting me (I love a braided bun). Again, it’s a mobile game.

 

Image credit: theverge.com

Now, the house customization? FIRE. They have way more options than I thought they would for a mobile game. Again, “freemium”, so if you want content quickly you’ll have to spend coin – but it seems worth it. Same thing by way of clothing. The packs seem a little pricy, but if you can earn enough Sim Cash…you’re golden.

Image credit: macrumors.com

Now, the house customization? FIRE. They have way more options than I thought they would for a mobile game. Again, “freemium”, so if you want content quickly you’ll have to spend coin – but it seems worth it. Same thing by way of clothing. The packs seem a little pricy, but if you can earn enough Sim Cash…you’re golden.

Tasks

In Sims Mobile, your Sim has the opportunity to do a variety of tasks to level up. You’ll be able to complete work shifts, go on dates, attend parties, and all kinds of other predetermined stories. Now, I one thing I LOVE about this game is I can put my phone down or play as another character and my Sims will complete tasks on their own. This is truly an on-the-go game, and I am an on-the-go-girl. So if you’re looking for something to keep you engaged fully, I won’t hype this up to being it. But if you need you Sims fix on campus or at work, this is a pretty great option. You can help your Sim complete tasks faster, but it’s a lot of clicking and waiting, etc.

Interaction

I haven’t really participated much in connecting socially (I know, I know), but other people seem to really enjoy it. You have the option of giving strangers in the game stickers (cool, hot, etc.), and you get to dictate the types of relationship you build with them. I’m boring so my Sim is currently dating her housemate (also of my design —is this God complex?). My code is included in the pic if you want to add me though 🙂

Overall

Look, overall it’s a fun on-the-go game, and the old saying of “you get what you pay for!” rings true. It’s not a quick reward with this one, but I still find it pretty engaging. Recommendation: Shut the office door and live it up on your lunch break, or during the down time in between class, etc.

Black Girl Gamers Belong

We’re so happy to be affiliated with this dope new venture in the UK: Belong by Gamers.  Belong Gaming Arenas are now available around the UK.  Designed by gamers, for gamers.

Check out our video on BGG and their site,  https://belong.gg, for more information.