In fighting games, winquotes have traditionally been one of the few moments you can learn about a character’s backstory and personality, but in the first Street Fighter, you would actually see a losequote each time you defeated your opponent. The first line is a compliment, but the very next sentence is pretty salty. Sometimes a losequote can say more about someone than their winquote, And this is why there’s a Twitter user known as @ScrubQuotesX, whose feed is full of salty losequotes from people who lost in a fighting game. Losing sucks, and it’s why game developers have made all sorts of ways to make it suck less.
There are now checkpoints, continues, difficulty levels, hints, and of course, the White Tanooki Suit. Mike Matei – “This “everyone’s a winner” stuff is a bunch of bullshit. “If you suck, you should lose.” Generally, you can reduce the amount of losing by making a game easier to beat.
but this doesn’t work with head-to-head competitive games, because both players are trying to win. No matter how easy or accessible you make the game, one of the two players is going to lose. Meatwad – “Paper covers rock, this is my room, the end.” Master Shake “NO!” Meatwad – “Paper covers rock, this is my room, the end.” This means one-on-one games will necessarily result in half the player base experiencing a loss at any given time, and this generates a lot of salt, and consequently, a lot of complaints.
Brian_F – “You lose, you feel bad, and you stop playing.” BornFree – “Yeah.” Brian_F – “DBFZ is really easy to play, but if someone’s better than you, you don’t get to play. “Casuals just don’t want to get steamrolled in a fighting game.” What is it about these games that make people so salty to the point where salt is ingrained in fighting game culture, and how does it affect us? – “You gotta be salty after that, because…” – “…he had to have won the previous round.”
– “Woah… Woah.” The answer lies in the heart of ScrubQuotes. If you look at these comments, there’s an underlying theme that’s repeated over and over again.
Fairness. Sense of fair play has been demonstrated by primates in an experiment involving two Capuchin monkeys in cages next to each other. After being completely fine eating cucumbers, the monkey on the left sees the other one getting the more delicious grape for doing the same task. – “She gives a rock to us now, gets again cucumber…” The result is primal rage. This inspired similar experiments, like the one with wolves pressing a buzzer to get food.
According to the researcher, “When the inequity was greatest they stopped working.” “I think he was so frustrated he broke the apparatus.” The wolf literally ragequit and broke his controller. These parallels to human behavior might seem kind of funny, but the experiments were designed to put the animals in an actual unfair situation.
In fighting games people get into situations that seem unfair, but it’s usually because they’re lacking certain knowledge or skill. For example, if you don’t know how to block in Street Fighter, it’s simply impossible to escape this, because no amount of button-mashing will change the situation. Salty Guy might be compelled to say: Salty Guy – “My buttons don’t work!” If he learns as buttons work fine, he might accuse his opponent of playing dishonorably.
Salty Guy – “That move is broken.” I like to call this “The Scrublord’s Prayer”, which goes like this: “My controls weren’t working. “And if they were, you were playing dishonorably.
“And if you weren’t, you were playing without skill. “And if you were, it’s not fun to play that way. “And if it is, then you only care about winning.” We know all of this is nonsense, because Guy just doesn’t know how to block.
Of course, it’s easy to roll your eyes here because it’s so patently obvious his salt is talking, but people can also say these things at higher levels of play. Blocking a sweep might be obvious to most of you, but not as many will understand why Ryu is able to hit Sagat here, when his foot doesn’t even come close to him Normally, this attack will whiff crouching opponents because his kick is too high. Makes sense. But if you block an attack standing and crouch right afterwards, there’s a brief moment where this game treats you like a standing opponent, even when you’re visibly crouching.
This is how Ryu is able to hit Sagat, even when it looks like he’s kicking the air. For players learning about this for the first time, it can understandably seem like an unfair exploitation of a glitchy game engine… Salty Guy – “You’re just exploiting a bug.” …but for players who have seen this a hundred times, it’s just called “Fuzzy Guard Break“, and it’s an extra option that gives the game a pinch more depth without breaking it. – “Dashing under…” – “Ooh! Even on Cammy.” This is why people say “Git Gud”.
Things seem unfair until you find a good way to beat it. Cammy – “Operation start!” Cammy – “Accelaration!”
But maybe all this “git gud” talk sounds elitist. Is it possible that your complaint can be legitimate, and not just a result of salt? Seth Killian had made the point that a “Win” button for each player in a fighting game would actually be cheap.
What’s instructive about this thought experiment is that it reveals that the Scrublord’s Prayer would mostly be correct in this case. Using the win button is dishonorable, takes no skill, isn’t fun to play, and shows that the user truly only cares about winning. But notice that the game is still completely fair, because both players have a win button. But also notice how this new win button is incredibly unfair for people who have learned how to play the game.
Announcer – “Round One!” is incredibly unfair for people who have learned how to play the game. Announcer – “Fight!”
Announcer – “Chun-Li Wins!” Other Guy – “This win button really de-emphasizes footsies.” Salty Guy – “Git gud, scrub!” How can something be so fair and unfair at the same time? It’s because fairness can be interpreted in three very distinct, if not opposing ways. The first is called “sameness”, which is the idea that something should either apply to everyone, or apply to no one.
We like sameness when it’s there to start competitors on the same footing. Every player must win the same number of rounds to win a game, be able to choose the same character, and have access to the same buttons, even if it is a win button. We don’t like sameness if it starts to hurt our individuality too much, for example, being forced to choose the same character.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote a dystopian satire called Harrison Bergeron that described a society where everyone was forced to be the same. Smart people had to wear noise radios to distract their thoughts, the strong had to wear weights, and the beautiful had to be masked. Kurt Vonnegut probably preferred buffs over nerfs. The second concept of fairness is called “deservedness”. It’s the idea that if you succeed through hard work, skill, creativity, or cunning, you deserve all that you earn kind of individual freedom. If you lab the game so much that you find an unorthodox strategy, a weird glitch, a deceptive hitbox or an infinite-hit combo, you see it as a potential tool or a thing to watch out for, rather than calling the authorities.
This Wild West mentality came from a time when games were very rarely patched, and making complaints involved writing and sending an actual letter with a stamp you had to buy. The third type of fairness is “need”, which is the idea that the ones that are worse off should be given some sort of aid, sometimes at the expense of the well-off. You might have heard this referred to as “social justice”. This includes things like comeback mechanics, balance patches, damage scaling, and the Infinite Prevention System in Skullgirls that makes sure you can’t loop a combo forever. These regulations are needed to make sure the game doesn’t break, and remain competitively viable, but of course, that can be pretty subjective.
– “He’s dead? Oh my God, he is GONE!! It’s getting…” The reason why Street Fighter II’s stun mechanic caused so much salt was because it violated the concept of need so badly. You’re already doing bad because your opponent is constantly hitting you, but then the game says, “Because you did so bad, now you don’t get to move or defend yourself. “Now watch as you get your ass beat more.” This sort of laissez faire, rich-gets-richer mechanic felt so unjust, local arcades made arcane rules where you are not allowed to hit anyone who is stunned, basically saying “Sorry, but we don’t say like that here.”
Made-up rules in arcades even happened in the old-school Korean Tekken scene, home of some of the best players in the world. But making your own personal rules to an existing game like this is like appointing yourself as Grand Chancellor of the game’s developers and its community, but only having a jurisdiction limited to the handful of people who don’t want to waste time arguing with you. if you want real change, you have to let the developer know. Thanks to social media, everyone with a smartphone can complain about anything to anyone, and because games are so often patched these days, it can have a real influence. It’s no wonder the designers of Tekken felt they had to do this: – “Is there anything you want to tell the Tekken community that’s tuning in?
“I guess this is all he wants to say.” But for game designers, complaining about existing games kind of becomes your job. The very same salt that came from the stun mechanic has been converted into one of the most iconic features in gaming history.
Ed Boon – “One of the things about Street Fighter that, that annoyed me, and I loved, “was when you get the other guy dizzy. “That was such a bad feeling, and it was such a good feeling when you’re the guy attacking them. “I want to have that good feeling, but I don’t want to give the other guy the bad feeling. “So we moved the dizzy to the end of the fight.” Announcer – “Finish Him!!”
For game designers, salt can be a driver of innovation. Announcer – “Scorpion Wins!” For game designers, salt can be a driver of innovation. One of the most salt-inducing moves back in the day was also one of the most basic; throws in Street Fighter II. Once referred to as a dark art, throws had been a zero-sum winner-take-all move where the first person to press the button at close range would throw their opponent for a ton of damage and excellent positioning. Players that understood its instant activation and deceptive range would be able to toss around their opponents like rag dolls, and any OG from the arcade days can tell you about the fights that broke out because of it.
So when Super Street Fighter II Turbo came around, they introduced “throw teching”, where if you manage to input throw within 13 frames after your opponent did it, you would not only take half the damage, but literally land on your feet. This is the game lowering your salt levels by throwing you a bone and rewarding you for being close. Fast-forward to modern fighting games, and now throw teching actually cancels the throw with no one getting hurt at all, and depending on the game, one of the players might be rewarded with a slight positional advantage. The thing to note here is that even the saltiest guy swimming in the Dead Sea while eating Dutch licorice is not going to complain about losing a slight positional advantage.
This feels fair because it doesn’t terribly violate any of the three concepts of fairness, and it might be why throw breaks have survived for so long. No one got salty enough to complain about it. Your modern fighting game, and games in general, are a culmination of innovations from past games to assure that the needs of the ever-increasing player base are met, but long gone are the days of ruthless and punishing game designs with zero-sum gameplay that indiscriminately rewards one player and dumps all the salt onto the other. Who would want to go back to such a regressive time?
Let me know in the comments the saltiest thing you’ve ever- Hey Cory, what’s up? Ah, nothing, I was just in the middle of recording and you kinda messed me up, but… I’m just kidding, it’s fine. What’s up? Oh yeah? What’s it called?
Okay. Really? So apparently in the dark trenches of the FGC, there’s a competitive scene out there that plays one of the cruelest and most sadistic fighting games ever made. It was never released outside of Japan, and rumor has it that people who played the game suffered from hypernatremia, making it literally toxic. Released in 1994, the game is called “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S”.
– “Yo…” – “Ooh! Was that…? That was a dirty crossup!” – “Oooh. Oh my God! Oh my God, it did like 50%!”
“Fair! Fair!” As you can see, these people make a mockery of fairness.
This game has unbreakable throws, no damage scaling, invincible DPs with no accountability, dash canceling from any normal, guard cancelling into any special, unlimited supers when low on health, and a fireball that does more damage on block than on hit, likely due to a programming error. Ever thought a character’s dash was too good? Sailor Uranus thinks it sucks.
“Do you even command grab?” she says. – “MissingPerson, he needs to get in, but he’s…” – “Oh no, this is bad, this is bad for, uh, MissingPerson.” – “This is definitely bad, he doesn’t have any health.”
– “Oh no, this is bad, this is bad for, uh, MissingPerson.” – “But he might get it!” – “Ohhh!” – “And- he’s going for another one, I’m telling ya.” – “Ah, he is, he is, he is, he i- OHHHH!!”
And do you know why Sailor Mars is laughing here? It’s because the company that can nerf her chip damage is dead. – “Oohhh!!
Ten seconds! “Super! Super chips him! Justin Wong!!”
This is the resulting anarchy that forms when there’s no one to listen to what the “zoning is cheating” guy has to say. Sailor Moon S is the pre-John McCain MMA of fighting games. Adapt or get your eyes gouged out.
It’s amazing how the Toronto Sailor Moon community can enjoy such unregulated waifu cockfighting. It’s almost as if they’re part of a culture that celebrates salt as a driver of adaptation, instead of a means to strong-arm game developers into patching out anything that seems remotely good. Its 2018, get with the times already. – “You’re still pissed off about Mike Ross.” – “Damn right I am.”