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Ballistic avatar 5:51 PM on 01.31.2009
Playing With Others: Life Lessons Learned from Super Smash Bros. Melee
I know, who freaking releases their monthly musings article on the last possible day? Well, if you know me (and you probably donĎt), then you know I procrastinate like crazy, but thatís actually not the cause of this delay. This delay comes from my problem with not knowing how to tackle this monthís topic of playing with others. My mindís been trying to approach it from several different ways, but with failure every time. But hereís hoping I hit the nail on the head this time.

Super Smash Bros Melee was an obvious pick for the subject of multiplayer gaming for me because Iíve never gained as much experience in playing any other game, or learned so much from playing a game with other people. Iím not just talking about things Iíve learned about relating to how to play the game either, I mean Iíve learned freaking life lessons from this stuff. And I didnít even realize just how influential itís been in these recent years until just now.

Do you know the feeling of having a skill within yourself that you are so trained in that you have utter confidence in your ability to perform it well? Itís something that I had never truly felt until I gained it from playing Melee so much. You really canít get that satisfaction in yourself unless you have it tested against others regularly, and multiplayer games shines in that area. Itís kind of ridiculous to say that I have self confidence in myself because of video games, but I have seen the difference itís made in me after these years. I know that the confidence Iíve gained has given me the courage to try other things that are difficult for me, and has in effect, made me more of a sociable and well rounded person. In fact, I would probably still be a lurker on Destructoid instead of a contributing poster if melee hadnĎt instilled a greater sense of pride in my gaming ability.

Hanging out with friends, and sparring against your friends, whether it be in real life or virtually, are two different things. You can talk to your friends and gain close personal knowledge of who they really are, and still not know them at all the way you do if you were to face them in combat. That sounds like something youĎd hear Snake say in Metal Gear Solid, but IĎve found that itĎs true. Thereís a different sort of knowledge of your friendís mind thatís given to you when you have to guess their attacksí and their strategies against you. I know my friend Seth will always go after the guy who gets above 100 damage first, and makes sure to kill anyone who continues to try get back on the stage after almost dying. I know my friend Casey is much better at single combat and tries to stay out of the fray that a four player match creates, only to clean up against the last man standing. I know my friend Chris looks for opportunities to get into those same frays that Casey sometimes avoids just hoping to send everyone flying, but is also sometimes vengeful and will hunt you down for something you could have done to him.

These are little things, but they speak of deeper parts of their personalities. We know each other better for the quirks that we have in these melee matches than we have through half our conversations. And through all this continual sparring and fighting comes a great sense of brotherhood. We all have the mutual feeling that if one of us got challenged to a game, the rest of us would be there to back us up and root for us, then kick our ass if we lost. In effect, itís helped me to understand them and be closer friends with them, and that has also opened my eyes to see how important friends really are.

Playing with others has been such an important thing with me. I know that it must be the backbone of what all makes us feel united as a single group of gamers, and especially for this community at Destructoid. I really wish I could join you guys in Friday Night Fights, but I still have to use dialup, so itís a little out of the question. I could tell a million stories about all the matches my friends have had, I could even write lengthy descriptions of each of my friends and what itís like to play with them, but I think this was the best way to capture the whole effect of how great it has been to play Melee with my friends.

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