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In past editions of this column, I've discussed cheap strategies and the effects they have on their victims. Be it campers, noob-tubers, or people who always play as Ken in Street Fighter games, we've come up with a universal name for individuals who rely on such unsportsmanlike play styles. They aren’t just “cheap” anymore. Nowadays, they’re called noobs.
Noobs used to be newcomers, people just starting to play a particular game, known for their lack of skill and for doing stupid things every now and then. They often resort to "unfair" and "cheap" strategies, since that’s the only way they’ll ever stand a fighting chance against all the experts gunning for them. And wouldn't you know, those so-called pros always go apeshit whenever a grenade launcher at point-blank range ends their winning streak. So they tag everyone who uses such "underhanded" tactics as noobs, because only noobs would need to use them, right?
Wrong. Real professionals learn and master all kinds of disgusting gameplay tricks and bugs in order to get ahead of the competition, and guess what? That's what makes them the professionals.
When I say the real pro gamers, I mean tthe people who earn a living playing video games, receive sponsorships, or compete in national or international competitions with huge amounts of cash on the line. This is serious stuff. They’re no longer playing “for fun” if money's involved, so you can bet they’ll do anything within the game’s limits in order to achieve victory. That includes taking advantage of glitches.
Let's have an expert explain. David Sirlin's a game designer, author, tournament competitor, blogger, and really cool person. In Part 2 of his "Playing to Win " article, he talked about the issue of “roll cancelling” in fighting game Capcom vs SNK 2:
Roll canceling is a bug exploit that allows a player to cancel a ground roll within the first 5/60ths of a second into any special or super move, retaining the invulnerability of roll during the special or super. Let’s try that again. Roll canceling is a bug requiring difficult timing that allows a player to have many invulnerable moves that the game designers never intended.
Some people claimed that players would never master roll canceling. That was just foolish, so I’ll pretend I never heard that. Players will master anything that will help them win.
Then he relates an experience he had during a U.S. tournament in August 2002. About 20 Japanese players attended, and almost all of them used roll-cancel techniques. Only a handful of Americans did the same.
The player who won the tournament, Tokido of Japan, played Blanka and Honda (!?) using nothing but roll-cancelled invulnerable versions of their self-projectile moves. This tactic absolutely destroyed the #1 US player (who even used roll canceling himself!) and the other Japanese finalist, who was clearly the better player. The “better player” just never got a chance to actually do anything during [the entire] set of games since the roll cancelled Blanka ball seemed unbeatable.
The roll cancel. So innocent-looking.
And that's an official tournament he's talking about. So what would you expect to happen in an unofficiated, unmonitored, unfettered online match?
Watch Sirlin's video tutorial for Super Street Fighter II Turbo. He explains every glitch you can take advantage of in order to deal a lot of pain to your opponent. Pay special attention to the “Pressing the Advantage” section (around the 3:00 minute mark).
“Don’t worry about being cheap or honorable; just do what’s necessary to win
and you’ll keep improving.” — David Sirlin
He just showed you nearly every despicable tactic in Street Fighter II history. Put another way, he just showed you how professional gamers make their living. Not by sticking to some elite, unwritten code of honor, but by winning.
Avoiding those so-called “cheap” tactics doesn’t make anyone a pro. A pro fights dirty. Maybe you play your favorite games a lot and consider yourself a hardcore player. Maybe you've got talent. But if you’re not relentlessly training yourself to take every possible advantage a game offers you, whether or not it's intended by the developers, then don't enter a professional competition, my friend. You don't qualify. And if you freak the hell out whenever you’re felled by “noob tactics,” you're probably not wired to make the leap to the major leagues, either.
That's OK. You're still a really good gamer. Your only crime is you play video games for fun. And maybe you judge those who don't a little too harshly.