Like a lot of gamers, I got my first taste of real competitive gaming as a freshman in college. Smash Bros., Halo, a little TimeSplitters...but the game I played was a little more hands on.
I played one of the oldest electronic sports--and the oldest club sport at Georgia Southern University: fencing.
Really only needing to fill an elective spot and, like most gamers, having a fascination with swordplay, I jumped into an intro class and was immediately swamped with how technical the sport is. Fencing is divided into three categories/weapons: Foil, sabre and epee. The biggest difference between each division is the concept of target area
, essentially which parts of your body are fair play for your opponent to attack. I was a foil fencer, which meant my chest, shoulders and back were my target area--anything else was off-target. Further, only direct, sustained contact with the tip of the foil would count.
So how could these hits be registered in such a fast-paced sport where two people constantly stab each other? Well, wires, of course! Each foil had a wire running from the tip to the hilt, which was plugged into a cord rigged with the scoring mechanism. In addition to my mask, glove and canvas shirt, I also wore a metal lame,
a covering for my torso that would complete the circuit when a certain amount of pressure was applied from the tip of the foil to the jacket. The system was quite simple and reliable, even able to register mis-hits and would tell who hit who first, assuming the two competitors attacked simultaneously.
It was very easy for me to get into fencing, since the sport resembles video games so closely. It's first person, to be sure--but it's played on a long mat where there is only forward and backward motion. It is essentially a 2-D fighting game. With that comes a lot of strengthening of calf and thigh muscles (as my fellow QWOPpers are probably aware). Right of way
was the bane of my career. Whoever strikes first and succeeds will score, but if I can parry my opponent's strike, then I can riposte,
and perhaps score a counter-hit. You have to match your opponent's movements--the give and take is the most intense part of a match.
It's a lot of information to handle all at once--movement, striking, defending, nervousness--so at my first tournament, I went a little nuts. I basically forgot all the things I learned and went all-offense instead. Instead of taking the time for head-games, measured combat and remembering the moves I learned, I would rush my opponent as soon as the ref called for us to start. They were all n00bs like me, so they weren't prepared for the match to become a reflex test. In this round-robin tournament, I scored about 30 of my team's 45 points. I made a kid cry.
I left the sport after a few years. I didn't have the drive to really get better, though I certainly gained an appreciation for the people who do. I lost interest...and, okay, wanted to play more Smash Bros.
Also, I could never beat the damn Cobra. What kind of self-respecting mongoose allows that?
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