Competitive Super Smash Bros. has been instrumental in my personal development. I joined the scene in my high school days when Brawl was the dominant Smash game in the community. I attribute my time in the scene to the many leadership and technical skills I have. In other words, Smash jumpstarted my professional career.
Everyone knew me as RARE both online and at tournaments. This was my Smash alternate ego, separate from the person my classmates, church friends, and even my own mother knew. For the most part, my real identity and my Smash identity existed separately; my only outlet for geeking out about the intricacies of Smash Bros. was by engaging in online forums or traveling out of town to tournaments. Only until recently did I have a group of friends in my personal circle who appreciated Smash as much as I do.
Smash and college dorm rooms go together like peanut butter and jelly. I had a couple of friends who I played with every day and while they often offered me a challenge, I consistently bested them because of my experience in the tournament scene from high school. While I had fun, their lack of knowledge about the scene meant that I could never really engage with them in deep conversations about Smash and its thriving community.
Then one day some of my buddies discovered the Smash documentary and saw what the scene is really like and how much more there is to learn. Their exposure to the grandness of the Smash community inspired them to learn about the top players and double down on their own skills. This culminated on Sunday when a couple friends hosted a tournament viewing party at their house.
Genesis 4, as you might expect, is the fourth iteration of an annualized Smash tournament series. It is a huge national tournament that drew over 2000 unique entrants this year. Consider it the Super Bowl for Smashers. This is why we celebrated it like a Super Bowl party.
We streamed Genesis 4 live on the big screen and had a couple of CRT televisions set up so we could have our own tournament for Melee, the GameCube version of Smash Bros. We ordered pizzas and were encouraged to each bring an exotic beer to share with the group. I sipped on several brews I likely would have never tried otherwise while I cheered for the underdog in almost every match.
For the first time in 10 years as a member of the Smash community, I wasn’t the best player in my friend group. For the first time, my obscure Smash references to my in-person friends were returned with laughter instead of confusion and judgment. For the first time, my personal identity and my Smash identity coexisted as a single content individual. I even wrote “RARE” on my beverage cup and for the first time, everyone at the party knew that the cup belonged to me.