Continued from part 1 (https://rowango.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/enter-the-tekken-my-passion-for-fighting-games/)

Unfortunately TTT (Tekken Tag Tournament) started to get boring for me. Our Saturday afternoon sessions had gotten to the point where I would sit down at the arcade machine and stay there. I started to lose games on purpose just to give people a reason to keep playing. Then something really unexpected happened.

I remember kicking ass and taking names as I usually did on a Saturday afternoon when someone who I hadn’t seen in a long time sat next to me. Bully popped his two tokens into the machine and reached out his hand to greet me. I was really taken by surprise. I shook his hand, and started to play.

There is a saying about the student surpassing the master. Well, I had surpassed Bully, and then some. After I had won we got up and chatted a bit. Turns out he’d moved and was just passing through, so he figured he’d pop by and see what was going on. He asked me how I’d gotten so much better than everyone. I explained to him that I had gotten a lot of info online to improve my game, and that I practiced a lot. The conversation died a little bit later, since we didn’t have much else to talk about. Bully was a proper charo (Indian) while I was basically a white kid in charo skin. Apart from Tekken our lives were completely different. We said our goodbyes, and I never saw him again.

I started to play less and less on Saturdays. My focus shifted back to PC gaming where I was still getting challenged in games like Counterstrike and Dota. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the owners of the arcade soon found out what the managers had been doing. The freebies stopped, and the community all but disappeared. Once in a while I would go and put in enough tokens that I could have a few games against people, but we all knew that the glory days of TTT at the arcade were over. I shifted all my energy back into getting good at PC games.

Months passed and I really began to miss the “good old days”. I would pop by the arcade once in a while to play, but I discovered that the machines were in a terrible state. Where I was once around often enough to tell the repairman exactly what was wrong with the machine, now there was nobody who cared.

Time moved forward, as it always does. A few years later and I was living in Cape Town, studying at a local film school when I bumped into some guys who played Tekken on a local gaming forum. They hosted sessions at a flat not too far from where I lived. I chatted to them a bit, and got an invite to join them.

I remember wandering around, looking for the block of flats. The whole time I was searching I felt like I was about to crap in my pants. I was a bundle of nerves. Even at the age of 23 I was still quite shy because I rarely moved outside of my tiny social circles.  I found the apartment and was buzzed in. I wandered down the passageway when I saw a gate open. A big guy came out and looked at me “Zolly?”. “That’s me.” I replied. He shook my hand and invited me inside. I was amazed at what I saw. There was about 10 guys, all cramped into this one tiny room with two full sized tables and a coffee table. There was a small TV, 2 LCD screens and three PS3s. Each of the PS3s was running a copy of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. I got introduced to some of the guys, who welcomed me (and the snacks I’d brought) with open arms.

I put the snacks in the kitchen and found a spot where I could watch a game unfolding. My jaw just hit the floor. These guys were good. At the time I had been out of Tekken for a while, but I could tell that the worst players were probably as good as I was near my peak. Most of the other players were pulling off moves I’d only ever seen in online videos.

Whatever nervousness I’d felt melted away as a wave of excitement washed over me. It was good to be back in the game.

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