Someone who lives at the Towers recently acquired a Playstation 2, and challenges me to a game of Tekken 5. The glory days of gaming are done for me, I am only left my memories. I remember how to talk shit, but everything else is almost a little alien to me. Never one to refuse a challenge, I follow him back to his house.
I was once so intimately involved with fighting game drama that I could recite from memory the blood type of every character in the game. As I looked down on the casing for Tekken 5, all I can remember is how I felt when Jin Kazama’s fighting style changed. I had no idea what to do.
And yet, when that pad hit my hand, black plastic, worn, sticky and more damaged than I would every allow my gear to be, I felt that powerful sensation wash over me again. Not like I had just come into power, but it was within reach, if I could remember how to take it.
The first match pitted my Hwoarang against his Feng, and I admit I made the rookie mistake of underestimating him. Although I managed to squeeze out a 2-round victory, the last round was by playing the clock rather than my opponent. I had a lot to re-learn.
The second match pitted my Paul against his Brian Fury, and I was quickly overwhelmed. I could salvage a one-round victory by knockout, only to be brutally overpowered the next two.
It was humbling, and I shut my mouth. I remember the experience that killed my arrogance left me on my knees, unable to stand, nearly six months ago now.
Shut up and fight.
With us tied and me facing being down by one game, he picks Yoshimitsu. I pick Bryan Fury.
Any battle is fought with the mind as well as the body. Bearing that in mind, I out-strategize him and secure a first-round win. I brutally knock him the fuck out in the second.
Fight four. His Kazuya, my Paul Phoenix. Now that I’ve found the ability to turn thought into instinct, flowing that into physical action, he doesn’t have a chance. Two rounds go to me.
The final fight, I can smell his desperation like blood in the water. His last resort; Jin Kazama. Hwoarang returns. I pummel him so severely he wonders if I’m cheating.
In the end, it’s just a game. He challenged me more than I thought he would. I shake his hand; it was an honor to battle with him. We have to do that again.
And at long last, as the virtual dust settles, the rage subsides.
When I felt my anger reaching its peak, I asked my mom for help. She turned me towards God, and told me to seriously examine my faith for the answers.
As I walked through the cool, oncoming summer night, answers seemed to descend into my head like a downloaded file.
I was born to be in the game business. Everything else is a stepping stone.
Family can be by definition more than blood. Over the years, I met people I am proud to call family, people I never would’ve met had I felt safe at home as a kid. Had my father not beaten me on a regular basis I would never have learned how to fight. I would never have developed the will to win. If I had grown up around trustful authority then I would never have learned to question it. The most valuable lesson you can learn is the one that teaches you; those in power do not always have your best interests at heart. If you know that, then you can challenge it.
If my reality hadn’t been so fucked up I wouldn’t have lost myself in the world of Southtown, where Terry Bogard fought to avenge his father’s death in one of the most poorly-put-together fighting games I’ve ever played. I would not have grown sick of the shallow story treatment in video games, which prompted me to start writing my own.
If Julie hadn’t died I never would’ve known how powerful love is. Love is the best thing you’ll ever get in this world. It’s the only thing worth fighting and dying for.
Everything happens for a reason, and we’re not meant to understand those reasons. We’re meant to survive them and become stronger people at the end of it. I may never fully accept that, but at least I know.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go kick the hell out of this guy at Marvel vs. Capcom. Some people never learn.