There is a big difference between something that feels right because you are doing it and something that you do because it feels right. As a generally optimistic, go-with-the-flow kind of fellow I find that given most situations I can manage at least a feeling of complacency.
Complacency encapsulates the idea of an activity feeling right because I do it. That is, I teach myself comfort with a situation. While this can be good and is much better than something feeling wrong and having to do it, it lacks that great feeling of fit that comes from interactions that you do because it feels right. Games have been key in pinpointing these interactions in my life and allowed me to be far more cognizant of the value of fit.
There have been three main components around this discovery of fit that I want to discuss. One is simply coming to understand that feeling; the feeling that separates performing tasks that fit versus ones that lie in the land of complacency or worse. The second is the search for the attributes that create this chasm. Why is activity A exhilarating and activity B just meh? And finally, what can I do to leverage this personal understanding? So let’s jump right in.
The Quest for “That” Feeling
Fighting games are a perfect example of this fit versus complacency issue. In every fighting game I have played there has been a group of characters that just plays right for me. No matter how much I try the other fighters I always find myself settling into these picks that feel like they were made for me.
For example, I am a Yoshi player in Melee. I can use most of the characters fairly proficiently and enjoy playing with some of the others but always find my way back to Yoshi. He has a moveset that feels right for me and playing with him keeps me excited. It’s this flame of excitement that keeps me trying new things and improving my play.
When the fit is there, bad match-ups (of which there are many) just keep me wary of what moves and aspects of the opponent I need to keep an eye on, instead of looking for a counterpick (or, better yet, just launching whatever remains of my old Gamecube controller across the room). Never have I been obliterated by a brutal onslaught of pillaring from a Falco and thought that the tools were wrong. It is always about finding new ways to test my mind and my hands to react, not about switching out the adorable dinosaur.
I have had similar experiences in most fighting games. While I enjoy testing out different characters I always settled on Nightmare or Yoshimitsu in Soulcalibur and Arakune in Blazblue. Captain America and Jin were my go-to characters in the Marvel vs Capcom 2, while I played Yatterman 1 and Roll in Tatsunoko vs Capcom. With these characters, it was never a hassle to learn new moves and combos and try new strategies because they always felt like they reacted to my hands in a way that no other character did.
The concept of fit can be most apparent in the absence of fit, which is exactly my experience with much of the F-Zero series. I had less experience with racing games and was generally unaware of what I was looking for in car mechanics. In a slightly simpler game in the racing genre, Mario Kart, I quickly settled on the mechanics of the heavy characters and attached to Donkey Kong for mechanics and because I enjoyed the character in general.
The concept of fit can be most apparent in the absence of fit.
But I never truly found a driver that clicked for me in F-Zero X; I sort of went for Samurai Goroh because I had used him in the SNES game but had no real attachment to him or the mechanics of his car. I was also quite young when I played the game and found my only chance of winning harder tournaments was to repeatedly kill all of my relevant rivals so they got zero points for the race. For this reason I often went for chunky characters that could pack a punch and take a beating.
I was simply playing people to meet a play style I had been coerced into by the difficulty of the game; as a result I never achieved the level of immersion or mastery that I come to expect of games I enjoy to the fullest.
When GX came out I went into it with similar expectations. With the passage of time my skills as a gamer had grown, but still no character popped out as a clear choice. I liked some of the characters aesthetically so this was an early basis for decision. For example, I absolutely loved Spade’s song on his bio page (as well as his neat bio page tricks), but was crap with his car, so that was a no-go. I mostly settled on the Turtle because I was pretty good with the car and I thought the driver was an adorable robot.
After playing through much of the game I had managed to amass many parts for the car creation, with which I started to play around. A few hours (days?) later, I hit on something that was working for me. It looked kinda random, sort of like the Star Ship Enterprise with a bite taken out of it, but I came to love it.
I never truly understood the mechanics of that game to a level of mastery; I was not sure how good or bad turning and cornering affected the car at specific speeds or the weight of the vehicle translated to drift, nor did I have any kind of science of choosing my car’s acceleration vs. top speed. But somehow, this car just clicked in a way that no other car ever came close to. It turned when I wanted it to turn, entered drifts when I wanted to drift and killed when I wanted to kill.
From that point on I never touched any other car. I put my adorable robot driver at the helm and drove my way to victory. Not only was I much better at the game with this car, but it gave me the motivation to push to become better and take on harder challenges that I never would have without that fit.
So I am beginning to understand that feeling. There is more clarity around how fit can motivate progression and make an experience more enjoyable, and how complacent activities can tend to slide down on my to-do list where those with fit hold lasting power. What is creating that schism though, pushing me away from certain activities and enthralling me in others?
I’m going to wrap this up here for now. Stay tuned to see how I delve deeper into the question of fit. Next up, I will discuss understanding the different components in myself that make certain things fit better, and also consider how these attributes vary person to person.
For now, let me know your experiences with finding this “fit” feeling. Have there been some obvious components of your life that have just clicked in that fit way I mentioned with fighting games? Or perhaps other times when you find it particularly hard to decipher your feelings towards a situation? Let me know in the comments below and please revisit the conversation in the next post.
Thanks! And as always, game on and learn on!