Wednesday, August 15, 2012

EXP Podcast #184: Winners, Losers, and the Olympics

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How important is competition? What does the thrill of victory (and the agony of defeat!) teach us? Ian Bogost sparked these questions in a recent essay about the importance of competition, and we use his piece as a starting point to hash out the merits of having games with clear winners and losers. We also go on liberal tangents about the Olympics, dodgeball, and the effects of public leaderboards in single-player games.

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Show notes:

- Run time: 41 min 04 sec
- "In Defense of Competition," by Ian Bogost
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Well, I don't have any stories of winning competitions... Lots of stories of beating champions after they win though. However, I do run many of the local competitions in the fighting game scene where I live. And I find it incredibly rewarding to see that burst of confidence that comes from when people win an event. And watching over the next few weeks how the people who nearly won improve, in an attempt to be able to beat that person next time.

    I used to hate competition when I was younger, but the drive to improvement that competition gives I think is really important and now that it's a part of my life I do feel much happier.

    I think the idea of making competitions into either co operative or competing against yourself is interesting but flawed... People will quickly and naturally compare themselves with others (leader boards make this even easier now).

    I really agree with the idea that we need to normalise loosing/winning to people as well that was mentioned. Although I think for this to happen we might need less team games... In school contexts most games are in large teams, and that makes having any impact on winning/loosing you individually have quite minor. Smaller games like tenis/badminton you have a greater control over your ability to win or loose.

    ... that's enough blathering. Great cast guys!

  2. Thanks for thoughtful comment, as always. Out of curiosity, what is your fighting game of choice? Despite being terrible at them, I've always liked fighting games.

    Also, have you seen "I Got Next"?

  3. I'm overall a video game tourist as they say so I play a bit of everything. But I 'focus' on Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code (a 2D doujin fighter with some really great damage scaling and just feels incredibly tight, super generic character designs though), Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 because there is always more to learn although filled with various things I dislike about the game, and the Smash Brothers series, which is actually really hard to play well thanks to a lot of the advanced tactics, and is the fighter I would least recommend to beginners to be honest.

    Recently gotten back into King of Fighters XIII as though, really worth your time, you can get it for $30 I believe. Apparently netcode is bad though

    If I was going to suggest one to learn if you are bad at fighters though, if you can track down Melty Blood (I believe the PS2 version of MB: Act Cadenza made it to the US). It's rather combo heavy, but it just feels very very tight. SkullGirls is tempting to recommend, but I can't see anyone playing it on a pad (the issue of fighters not being designed for pads is an interesting one in the community).

    Also, these are ST tutorial vids, but they might really help get you in the mindset of how to think about fighters perhaps

    Thank you for reminding me about that actually, you guys did a podcast on it IIRC? I always planned to watch it but never did

  4. "Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code" is pretty much the best game title I've ever seen.

    Those Sirlin videos are really cool. Seeing the game in terms of formal geometry is really useful. It's something I always did somewhat by gut feeling, but seeing it spelled out really crystalizes it.

    Hopefully I Got Next gets a proper release sometime soon. Most of the stuff in it will probably be old news to you, but I thought it was a really humanizing treatment of the U.S. fighting game scene.

  5. The developer's next game is UnderNight In Birth. You can't help but love Japanese game titles.

    Yeah, those vids sort of cover stuff most people basically know, but does a great job of crystallising it.

    Well, I don't follow the scene that well really, I just watch top 8s of a few tournaments every now and then and that's pretty much it. So I look forward to humanising it.