Essay Proposal: Considering Challenge

What I am interested in is the Fighting Game Genre. Initially my direction was to Game Narrative but my knowledge in this subject is limited. I have played many types of games since the age of seven and ironically it presented a difficulty to narrow my topic. After a while of thinking, I narrowed down my topic.

To introduce the essay I want to very briefly discuss the history of these games. If I choose one game as my major focus, I will give a brief reference to where and when it was made, and who produced it. Readers who know little of fighting games can get a better understanding what these games are about.

The goal of my essay is to analyze the challenge of the fighting game genre. What I mean by challenge is the difficulty of mastering a character or even the game itself, and what pleasures arise from the experience of having that challenge. Challenge is complex because too much difficulty in a game or no challenge presents many problems for the player. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory, challenge must be balanced between the abilities of the player and challenge of the game. This theory helps to understand why players need to fit between the ability and challenge. The questions I am still curious about are: what makes a game challenging and complex; and why would it be not challenging?

Fighting games I want to reference in my essay are: Streetfighter, Blazblue, and Super Smash Bros Brawl. I may come across more games to relate to my research paper. Comparing and contrasting everything from these games is not my intention. I only wish to include key differences that relate to the essay. I will give an example of one key difference: Blazblue’s characters all have different playing styles, each with their own unique ability. This ability is called the “Drive Ability”, their playing styles center around it. For instance, a character named Hazama has an extended, chain-like claw as his ability. He is not only able to use long range attacks but can also use it for close-range attacks. This knowledge is only accumulated after playing as the character many times. Knowledge is gained through experience. Players will avoid making the same mistake twice, strategizing their play practice through trial and error. “Repeat Play allows the player to reassess their abilities and consider their own style and ability” (Newman, 134).

I also wish to discuss in my essay on the pleasures of experiencing challenge in a fighting games. This I plan to have as one of my main arguments but if I don’t have enough time I may only briefly talk about it.

I intend to use these as my sources. I may use different sources based on research that is more specific to the essay.

Marc Prensky: From Digital Game-Based Learning (McGrawl-Hill, 2001)

Even thought the source is old, it still gives examples of how games can be challenging, and competitive. The challenge pumps adrenaline into the player which excites them. Also states reasons why games are fun and how games give us enjoyment and pleasure.

David Surman: Pleasure, spectacle and reward in Capcom’s Street Fighter Series

Good examples on methods to analyze character’s moves and players interaction in fighting games. Explains from the basic punches (by pressing one button), to special moves (requires more pressing more buttons in executed quickly), to complex combos that take more time and skill to learn. The essay mentions a term called the “reward spectacle”. When a player gains enough skill in an aspect in the game they are rewarded. In my own example, if a player completes a combo perfectly against an opponent they unlock a trophy. The player is more satisfied when earning a trophy and collects more trophies to show off with. I want to use this term in one of my arguments.

Flow in Games, A Jenova Chen MFA

The theory of “flow” experience that is essential for gamers to experience. It is important to consider this theory when looking at the difficulty increase in video games.

James Newman: Video Games

Harper Todd: The Art of War: Fighting Games, Performativity, and Social Game Play

Explains why players consider Super Smash Bros Brawl as not a fighting game but a “party game”. Challenge can be different for every player. It explains the challenge of the fight itself is the pure enjoyment of the game for hardcore gamers. Casual gamers enjoy the experience of random items appearing in the arena causing disturbance (Todd, 152). I have played this game with many different people and have even argued our ideals of fun. This I will explain more in the essay.

Shaquille Nelson #2405066


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