Childhood obsession: Street Fighter II

What is it that makes someone obsess?

The first time I saw Street Fighter II, it felt like something I wanted in my life.  I must’ve been 8 or so, and like kids often do, I sat staring at the demo for many minutes.  I loved Blanka, because he was a green monster who could electrocute people and he made a really nice monster sound.

SSF2T_Blanka

Looking back, I wonder if my parent’s disdain for television and videogames fed my love for them.  Love what you aren’t allowed?  Does that really happen?

It wasn’t love at first sight in the sense that from that day forward, I lived and breathed Street Fighter.  I’m not sure I even knew what I had seen that first time, I just remember the bright colors and the fighting and the weird characters. It took a few more encounters to really invade my psyche.

I was raised in a fairly safe, small town in California, the University town of Davis.  This is the kind of town a kid can walk by himself at a not very old age down to the supermarket or ride his bike across town to meet a friend and get pixie sticks.  Our video arcade was called “The Library.”  Over the next few years, I quickly learned the differences between the editions, some of the fundamentals, and spent many a dollars losing to the college students who frequented the arcade.

Eventually, I saved up my money and bought a strategy guide, right around the release of Super Street Fighter II.  I memorized everything.  I poured over the moves and the combos and the characters and the art and that books was shredded in a matter of months from all the page flipping.

At one point I even thought I could win friends on the playgrounds by explaining the difference between a charger and a non-charger and a shoto.  I would tell you a new secret move if you’d just listen, thinking maybe I could find a kindred spirit one move at a time.  It never happened.

I wouldn’t say I was picked on much, but I certainly didn’t have many friends.  That said, I was kind and friendly and outgoing, but I only was drawn to others who would obsess with me.

There was a local supermarket, about 5 blocks from my house, inside of this terrible mall with constantly changing businesses.

The supermarket always had 2-3 coin-op cabinets, including that hacky version of Champion edition where you could change characters with the start button, Super Street Fighter II at one point and Children of the Atom at another.  I would walk down to the mall,  alone, $3 in quarters in my pocket, and hope there would be some good challengers that day.  Most days I just played the computer.

My older brother often told me I was too obsessed, that it wasn’t healthy to think constantly about the same thing.  I dreamt in Street Fighter.  I even would pretend fight my friends at lunch when we weren’t trading comic card.  Is this not normal?

I always hated the negativity of the word obsessed.  Why is it bad that I constantly and thinking about something?  Why shouldn’t I get super-into my interests?  Isn’t passion something to admire?  Nerd.

2 thoughts on “Childhood obsession: Street Fighter II”

  1. It’s interesting how time changes. I remember playing these games on arcade and after that on our home computer that ran on Intel Pentium processor. During my arcade days, I had a specific arcade in a video gaming place that had a glitch. A special place where I could screw around with a coin and it would give me a coin without actually needing me to insert it. 😀 😀 I’ve had so many levels on one [legitimate] coin. 😆

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  2. Loved Street Fighter and used to play it in Arcade halls either against the computer or another friend..! I also remember the disappointment when coins finished and couldn’t play any more …lol…!
    I then played it at college in a Sega machine, (or I think it was a Sega), against mates!
    Thanks for reminding me those glorious years Spencer.. 🙂

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