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Jan192016

« Review: FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community »

The community at large and the player as individual are the topics that drive the documentary "FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community." While not necessarily new in fighting game documentaries, these two elements are modernized with the genre gaining new attention. Director Esteban Martinez found the perfect time to make something that solidly portrays what its is to be part of the fighting game community.

To those who have seen fellow fighting game movies "Bang the Machine" and "I Got Next," "FGC" can be interpreted as a spiritual successor. Each film captured the state of the fighting game community at a certain time. There is the arcade competition with "Bang the Machine," the Street Fighter IV boom in "I Got Next" and the ever-increasing playerbase in "FGC."

Clips of the community are abundant with well-shot cinematography that captures moments of triumph and loss between two players battling it out. Those images are backed up by a solid soundtrack of ambient and hip-hop-influenced beats that fit the mood.

Interviews are aplenty in "FGC" with prominent members of the community such as Seth Killian, James Chen and Alan "St1ckbug" Bakes. If you are looking to get someone into fighting games, the interviewees are able to articulate what makes the games and the community stand apart from the vast world of esports. Topics include history of the scene, different types of fighters and learning from controversy.

The film shows off multiple tournaments including the popular Evo Championship Series in Las Vegas. While Evo is the largest of all fighting game tournaments, the community's involvement in regional events is still featured. One such tournament covered in "FGC" is New Jersey's East Coast Throwdown.

ECT founders Joe "LI Joe" Ciaramelli and John Gallagher talk about how they got into fighting games and how they became friends. They also talked about the formation of ECT and how they got to where they were because of their passion for fighting games. Despite the challenges they faced, they were able to bring players to compete.

That same East Coast region is the home of Steve "Lord Knight" Barthelemy, the next focus of "FGC." From playing Super Smash Bros. and even Halo at an early age, we see Lord Knight get engrossed in anime fighting games with his eventual goal to win EVO.

Lord Knight might not be popular as someone like Daigo Umehara, but he has the desire to compete and win like many other players. He has aspirations of doing great, but like the rest of the community he fears the reality of losing. He might do better than most in tournaments but that doesn't make him less likable. With Martinez being a fighting game player himself, it's clear that he wanted to establish that common connection between all members of the FGC.

While Lord Knight was a great subject to review, it would have been better to add one more player into the doc. Regardless of game or skill level, another player could have strengthened the theme of fierce competition. It could have also increased the movie's length. Lasting one hour and 15 minutes, I left wanting more from the film. One more player wouldn't act as a detriment.

However, for a documentary title sounding expansive, it's off-putting to see "FGC" being mostly focused on the East Coast. Due to Martinez's limitations outside of making the documentary, it's understandable that some compromises had to happen. To add to that, a wider scoped film with sections dedicated to other scenes in North America probably would have been convoluted or unfocused.

With its brevity, "FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community" still has enough that anybody can find worth in watching it. While I wished there was some more content, Martinez didn't undermine the struggle and capabilities of the community that tries to continue its rise every day.

"FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community" is available now to purchase or rent.

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