Gaming My Way

21 Apr

“Cheapness” In Gaming

I can’t lie. This article is in great part inspired by David Sirlin’s book Playing to Win. Like his articles and book, this one will focus on fighting games.

Although I wouldn’t put it in quite the harsh light he does, I very much agree with his main point: if it’s in the game, it’s legal. Like he said, there are very occasional exceptions, but repeating the same move over and over, that unblockable attack, or that infinite combo your friend just unleashed on you isn’t it. It’s in there, and maybe the infinite combo is even only possible because of a bug in the game. But it’s part of the game now, and many people may not even recognize it for the bug it is, so it’s time to learn to deal with it.

And that’s where the fun starts.

“What?!” you may find yourself thinking. Yes, you read right, that’s where the fun starts.

From here, you have a couple of options. First, you can learn to pull the “cheap” move or combo off yourself. For difficult combos, most games have a practice mode to… well… practice in. Hence, practice mode. Of course, for some people, they may not even know how to begin a complicated combo, in which case, I recommend reading up on It’s where I go when I’m having trouble with a game, because the answer can usually be found there. So, you pick up the information you need, and you practice and practice and practice the move, then you go up against a friend… and get creamed.

How could this possibly be?

Well, practice mode is great for learning how to do difficult combos, but it’s horrible for learning how to land difficult combos. Once you know how to do the combo, you need practice landing it, preferably against a human, but a computer opponent will also suffice. Basically, you need someone to fight back, so you can learn under which circumstances the combo can be landed.

The other thing you could do is find a buddy who knows the move (perhaps that friend of yours who keeps owning you with it… hint hint) and learn how to counter it. I’ve found 99% (well, I don’t track percentages, but most) of “cheap” moves can be very easily countered with a well placed block or three. If you find an attack that works faster than the cheap move, so much the better. Make him suffer every time he tries to land that move, and he’ll think twice before trying to hit you with it again. This is my most common strategy, as I have no interest in learning massively complicated combos. As long as I can neutralize them, I don’t necessarily have to learn them though, because they become less useful.

Another fun possibility is to let your friends do the dirty work for you. For this, you’ll have to learn the combo though. Once you know how to effectively land the combo your friend devised, turn it against him as mentioned before. Then, one of three things will happen. One, he’ll take a beating just like you did. Sweet! Two, he’ll take a beating and then devise a way to counter the combo you’re using on him. Or three, he’ll already know how to counter it and do so immediately. In these last two cases, PAY ATTENTION. He’s showing you how to beat the combo he always uses against you. So next time you fight him, you can do the same.

Now, for some of my own thoughts on “cheapness”.

If I’m playing competitively, then I’ll be as “cheap” as possible. This game’s for the win. For me, playing competitively typically means playing against someone almost as good as me, or better than that. Alternatively, it could also mean playing against someone who is taking the match as a serious measure of his and my skill, in which case, I’ll also want to win.

Also, anyone who calls cheap doesn’t understand how video games work. That is to say, games are programs, and they establish all of the rules of the game within the program. If someone says you shouldn’t do something the game lets you do, well, they’re contradicting how the game is designed. Of course, there are a possible few exceptions, such as a bug that makes the game unplayable, but that of course makes the game unplayable, so it’d be hard to keep playing if that were used.

Generally, if someone calls cheap on me while I’m playing, I’ll offer to show them how to counter the tactic if we’re not currently engaged in a serious match. Otherwise, I’ll extend the offer once the match is over.

At this point, the player has two options: He can choose to listen, and maybe learn a bit about how to deal with the kind of tactics I employ, then play again and see how the match turns out. Or, he can choose to ignore the advice, claim that the attack is unbeatable, and whine about anyone who uses it. I think a player’s reaction in this scenario says a lot about him.

But is it really necessary to always play competitively?

Certainly not. In that case, decide how you want to play. For myself, I’ll often alternate between playing my best, trying out new moves and combos, and coming up with little challenges to make the match harder on myself. An example of such a challenge might be “don’t block this fight” or “use only kicks.” Just for fun. After all, if the game is just for fun, why not test yourself? It’s also a great way to improve your game. By restricting yourself to a moveset you aren’t familiar with, you force yourself to learn new moves, some of which may turn out useful. Certainly you could just memorize the moves, but my memory doesn’t work that way, and I need to learn by doing, and this is the way I force myself to do so. And it’s fun to win a fight just with kicks when your opponent is bringing that big, heavy axe to bear on you.

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