Headstomper 2019: reflections (on-the-fly)

Headstomper 2019

When you have put so much effort into an event there is obviously a lot to say. But instead of trying to capture all of my thoughts about Headstomper 2019, I will limit myself to a handful of aspects.

First, I would like to write a little bit about the Headstomper-crew.

Over the years, we have become a group that shares a lot of things. We obviously share a love for fighting games and fighting game communities. We also share a sense of humour, by and large, and have a lot of fun together as we’re doing our organizational work. (Hello?) It’s also a creative group, with a lot of artistic ideas and technical know-how, and a couple of us that are into writing. I think that Headstomper would’ve been a totally different event if we didn’t have the group dynamic that we have at the very core of it… so even in times of growing corporate interests and involvement in the fighting game community, we’ve managed to keep our particular vibe present at our events.

So from my point of view, I can clearly say that I wouldn’t been involved in Headstomper had it not been such an amazing group of people involved. While we’re not event organizers in our everyday lives, we definitely do a good enough job at it during our leisure time, given that we’ve managed to create what Headstomper now has become.

Second, I would like to write a little bit about the feedback that we’ve gotten on Headstomper 2019.

From my own point of view, this year’s Headstomper has been the best one thus far. At the same time, this is also the year where we’ve gotten the most positive feedback thus far. The venue obviously did its fair share (insert free ice cream-memes), but I think that the fact that we at least tried to stay true to our internal goals and ambitions is another important aspect of it. But what do I mean by this?

Basically, the way I see it, Headstomper tries to create a space for fighting games and their communities to gather. Over the years, our networks have grown, and we’ve managed to get support of a number of companies that provide us with monitors, setups, pro-tours, etc. This year, we were chosen as part of the ArcRevo World Tour, which obviously meant a lot to me as an avid Guilty Gear-supporter. Now although that this could push us towards focusing “on the top” in terms of the player-base, we’ve stuck with our intentions to creating an event that focuses “on the community”, at least with several casual setups for the main games (the numbers which were based on each games number of registered attendees). Although the “side-event experiment” didn’t pan out as we had hoped, (casual) side-events are still part of HS-experience. Much room for improvement here though.. Point is that although the competitive aspect of fighting games is always present, I believe that we try to create a social space around them, rather than merely a competition. I believe that the fact that people hung out in the break out area over a free ice cream or two, or chilled out in the bar below over a beer or two, demonstrates this point. But again, that’s something that comes with “the community”-aspect of fighting games. We just provide the space for this interaction to occur.

I still think that there’s tons of stuff to be improved in terms of event organizing (and again, I’m no professional at the area), but considering the group of people involved, and the fact that we all have day jobs and non-FGC-related lives as well, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.

So for me, and I think for the entire group as well, all this positive feedback really means a lot. So thank you for expressing it. Really.

Third, I would like to write a little bit about Guilty Gear at Headstomper 2019.

Now I don’t know too much about the other fighting games at Headstomper. Although I consider myself knowledgeable about fighting game fundaments (indeed, I’ve written quite a bit about it over the years), I don’t consider myself knowledgeable about other fighting games and their communities. All that I can write about with some authority concerns Guilty Gear.

As someone whose been in the Guilty Gear fighting game community since 2004 (yikes), there is one thing that I would like to highlight in this on-the-fly post. That is: the general level of understanding of Guilty Gear fundnamentals is so much higher now than before! It really is… While I believe that us OG:s have been key in developing and making this knowledge available at the community-level, there is no denying that the players of the current generation is putting in a lot of effort and using the tools that us OG:s helped to mainstream. So during Headstomper, I saw some really impressive play from a wide variety of players that haven’t necessarily been playing the game for so long. Although the tournament was small in contrast to some of the major events in the US, the commitment and emotions of the players was really exciting to observe. It made me very happy at least.

With all this said, I still believe there is still a gap between the top level here in Europe and the top level in the World. I believe that the challenge ahead is a collective one, as I think that top European players need to help elevate middle-to-top level players so that we can get more experience in playing high level Guilty Gear. As for Swedish-players specifically, I think there’s a lot of mental aspects of the game that needs to be improved. There are all things I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, but Headstomper 2019 really cemented this for me. So as a European Guilty Gear community, I think we have some work to do if we really want to excel at this game.

Fourth, and finally, I would like to talk about friendships/comradery seen at Headstomper.

There were several moments across Headstomper that made me reflect on the friendships and the comraderies that fighting game communities create. Indeed, we’re all spending ridiculous amounts of times on thinking about and playing very specific games, and we bond over our shared interest in them. When we lose, we mourn those losses together, and when we win, we may be celebrating them as a collective effort. The Guilty Gear-tournament at Headstomper were filled with plenty of these moments. Hopefully the same goes for the other games.

To conclude, here are some random shout-outs.

  • To be written soon enough.

Best,

Shinjin

 

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