I’d like to introduce you to the first love of my life, Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike.
This game was unarguably the most influential part of my life up until this last year. Now obviously everyone’s first thought has to be something along the lines of, “that’s pathetic.” Well, shut your
mouth mind because you don’t know any part of it. When I first saw the game it was at Skatelab when I was about 9-10, and after probably breaking it from all the button mashing I never thought of it after that. Four years later I saw it again during my summer entering 9th grade. My best friend at the time, Anthony was telling me about this internet cafe to play computer games at called Interface, and, after little convincing, I agreed to at least go check it out.
As soon as we got there I noticed the 3rd Strike cabinets set up in the back. However this time instead of seeing a desolate arcade machine collect dust with the occasional child mashing on it so his mom could finally breathe, I saw people around it. A lot of people, watching two players play each other from across the room thanks to head-to-head cabinet capabilities, and more people just talking to each other while they wait. Well, curious little me had to see why all these people (between the ages of 18-25) were all crowding something as mindless as a video game (ha ha, mindless..). So after waiting a decent 20 minutes with my quarter up on the cabinet for my turn to play, I was finally going to be able to see what all this nonsense was about.
I figured I may not win, but who knew I had as good of a shot as anybody else there, I just had to make sure I pressed the buttons harder and faster. Hard for me to call it a surprise now, but I got raped (I lost), and I was baffled as to how I just lost a quarter within literally a minute, I didn’t even have a chance to think about what was going on. Flustered, confused, and pissed as hell I instantly tossed another quarter up and waited. However this time I did more than wait, I watched. The first thing I noticed was that not a single person was fisting the cabinets nor jerking the joystick in random directions. “What the fuck.” Was literally my first thought, and I realized that they all played with finesse. They knew exactly what they were doing and why. It was almost like they were creating a choreography with each players character. It was determined there, I wanted to play like they did, and I wanted to be the best at it.
Obviously the second quarter had no difference, but it was my official start. The following years throughout my entire high school career became this game. Well, let me make that sound less dramatic, I still had friends, I still experienced all the other bullshit every guy goes through in high school, I just had the rest of my focus on becoming the best at this game. Throughout the years I gained friends through Third Strike, an entirely new community of friends at that. We went to tournaments together, we played together, we even blazed together (my first time smoking was literally because of this game). Third Strike allowed me to experience a lot more than most typical high school students. My first experiences with harder drugs were correlated with it, My first trips to Vegas (drunken trips, at least) were due to tournaments for Third Strike. I almost didn’t graduate high school, yet 12 classes my final semester and a shit load of hard work later, I even got my graduation present to have a three week trip to Japan for (you guessed it) Third Strike. Mind you at that point we got to experience most of Japan within our all-nighters. I could continue into the depths of those stories, however I don’t want a three page blog post, and it’s probably better you don’t know a lot of what went down (for my sake at least..)
By my fourth year playing I was definitely near being on top, but wasn’t quite there yet. By this time our vast community of players had been destroyed by the disgust that’s called Street Fighter 4, but I’m not even about to get started with that. It wasn’t that bad though, the last few truly dedicated players stayed together, and we all resided in our home that we proudly called Denjin Arcade.
We kept to ourselves and continued to play the game we love. Sadly it was on its last years and dying breaths, both Denjin Arcade and Third Strike (in America, at least). And near the end of our time is when I really start to realize how good we had it, and how 3rd Strike actually had a strong impact on who I am, and how I found out who I was, too. I may not have made it to “the” best, but at that point that’s not what it was about anymore. It did more than “just a game” could. It showed me how hard I strive when its for something I love. It taught me persistence and the reward of self discipline. Third Strike showed me that success and that desire to be on top is so honestly achievable, you just have to be that hungry for it. I’m so excited to put the same heart I had for Third Strike into City Approval. And I’m even more ecstatic to see the reward that follows such an honest dedication.