The fighting game community (FGC) has grown from holding local events to smaller venues to occupying ballrooms at four-star establishments with talent from all across the globe attending. Major sponsors such as Capcom, Namco Bandai, and others are responsible for the development of some of the world’s most famous franchises in gaming, and are showcased at a central tournament featuring the top fighting talent from across the world. With major prize pools, fighting games are now reaching a platform that can be compared to traditional eSports.
Each week, I’ll be posting interviews I’ve had the pleasure of conducting with members of the fighting game community. The interviews will touch upon their history in the FGC, where they got their start, and what they’d like to see from video games in general.
This weeks guest is a man who’s been a great help to me as well as a veteran in his own right: Jason Laboy aka VXG | Jason24cf.
Kash: Thank you for joining me today, please introduce yourself to the Broken Joysticks readers.
Jason: My name is Jason Laboy and I go by the GT jason24cf in the FGC. I’m mostly known for my interviews, team managment and now video reviews of gaming related products.
Kash: A fighter’s tag is like their identity. Some would rather use their name and some nicknames; how did you decide what yours will be?
Jason: My GT has been with me for 20yrs now. The “24” stands for my universal sports number and “CF” stands for Center Field which was the position I played when I played baseball in the mid 90’s – early “00”.
Kash: How would you say you got your first start in the FGC?
Jason: Well I always played SF since Street Fighter 1 was in the arcades. I never really took the game serious because I played sports and I considered gamers who played all day as nerds who had no life. I played games but only sports games but I preferred to go out and physically compete in sports like baseball, football and basketball. But I just got tired of losing in SF so I took the game seriously because I hate losing.
Kash: Your competitive nature from sports both real life and online crossed into fighting games.
Jason: No question it did. I never played a game to have fun. I play to win. When I win I have fun. It’s something my coaches installed in me during my playing days. So I can’t shake that mentality.
Kash: Which game(s) are you most known for playing and what character(s) do you use?
Jason: I only play Street Fighter and I only use Fei Long. I am a big Bruce Lee fan since I can remember so any character that looks like Bruce I will try to play that game and use that character. Tekken had a Bruce clone (Marshall Law) with the G.O.D track suit but I felt it was a whack attempt at making Bruce Lee a character in a video game. World Heroes from SNK had Kim Dragon. SNK and Capcom were the two that did the best back in the day, but overall Capcom did the overall best job at cloning Bruce with Fei Long.
Kash: Tell us a bit more about VxG and your job position with them. Are you both a player and their public relations go-to guy?
Jason: I gave up tournament play because I had way too many responsibilities with player management while at tournaments. I’m now public relations/social media manager for VXG now. I wasn’t a bad player because I beat many of the games best when we play FT5, but I couldn’t focus on my games because I had to make sure the players were where they needed to be, film the teams matches, work with sponsor’s and film my interviews.
Kash: If you could clone yourself, would you attempt to have one of you do the PR stuff and the other win the tournaments, or do you think you’re better off not competing to better manage the fighters possibly with the sports background you have?
Jason: In all honesty I never wanted to win a major because I knew I entered the game far too late, I just wanted to beat the best players and that was good enough for me. But I do wish I played better at tournaments.
Kash: It’s good though, you showed them what you were capable of for someone who wasn’t doing this all the time.
Jason: Yeah, hearing some of the best like K-Brad, Sanford, Dieminion and many others tell me “your really good and you would be so much more better if you played more often”. My main goal I set for myself was to beat my teacher Inthul.
Kash: I just recently set that as one of my two goals to accomplish between now and next year. Did you ever beat your teacher?
Jason: He retired before I got the chance to challenge him offline.
Kash: Do you think other people in the FGC like their characters because they like them, or because they need to use them based on the current tiers and meta game?
Jason: Some players are loyal to their character like Dieminion. He is as skilled as they get and he could use any character in the game but he is loyal to his character. Other players just pick the best characters because they want to win.
Kash: The FGC has been slowly evolving from something small to big as time continues to move. Do you feel the FGC is at the same level as eSports?
Jason: It’s getting there but it’s going to take much more for it to reach that level. Games like League Of Legends, Call Of Duty and Starcraft attract a far larger audience. The FGC is making progress. It it’s still far behind. The only support the FGC gets are from FGC companies like Mad Catz. Until bigger companies like, for example, Pepsi or bigger, support the FGC it will never reach that eSports level. VXG has made great progress with getting those companies attention. Rolando and Triforce are marketing a event like VXG to get those companies and they have done an amazing job with getting many sponsors on board. The FGC is very hard to market because these companies look at it from a distance and with just a glance. The image they see is drama, pop offs, talk of collusion and top players who lack charisma. Many top players don’t do a good enough job helping new players.
Kash: How difficult do you think it is for a new person to enter the community and feel welcomed?
Jason: It’s difficult for new players to feel welcomed in the FGC because if they lose in a match in a easy manner they are called “free” and from that point on they are looked down on. That can make the player feel very discouraged and in turn it will turn him off to the FGC.
Kash: While it’s something that’s been going on for a while behind the scenes, what’s your take on pot splitting? Should there be ramifications for doing it?
Jason: I’m not against pot splitting as long as the 2 players put forth the best effort. We as spectators put our money into the pot when we enter the game so we want the players to still give us a show.
Kash: While this is something the readers don’t know but your interviews are what inspired me to do better at this; why did you decide to do interviews in the FGC?
Jason: Wow, thanks for the kind words! I like conducting my interviews because growing up and admiring athletes. I looked at Sports Center all day! I wanted to know as much as I could of my favorite players. So I do the same in the FGC because at times top players can come off as rude and its not their intentions. I want to be able to provide those fans the opportunity to learn about their favorite players. A lot of the questions I ask top players I get from fans. So I am honored when someone stops me at a tournament or in the street and thanks me for the interview I held.
Kash: You mentioned you played Sports game earlier but other than those and Street Fighter, what other styles of games do you play?
Jason: Growing up I was a big RPG fan. I loved the SNES and all the RPGs. I played RIFTS which was a real world RPG. I enjoyed action games and I spent a lot of time in the arcades. But I played them all. RE, the first 3, are my all time favorites as well. But lets not forget Madden, NBA Live, Jam, MLB2K, and every other sports game around. I owned them all.
Kash: What is your current system of choice and which system do you see yourself using for the next generation?
Jason: Xbox all the way. I only own a PS3 for Blu rays. The system is trash! The frame rate is trash for Capcom games. It’s no secret that Capcom employees have said in public on many occasions that their fighting games don’t run at 60FPS on the PS3. Ono said it at a EVO panel back in 2011. I recorded the panel and loaded it. So when players say “the PS3 doesn’t lag” I laugh.
Kash: With the current release of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and all of its unique features in a fighter, how do you think the FGC will treat it? I know you picked it up, how do you feel about it personally?
Jason: I really like the game. It’s something new but like with all games when they are released they have many flaws. My biggest issue with Injustice is as follows: every character has the same walk speed. To me that is a bad design. With some characters having a projectile in some way, characters should have different walk speeds to counter those projectile spams. The game lacks effective anti airs. A lot of this game is based on jumps and I personally do not like that. I trained very hard to reach the level I’m at in SF and I learned to love the footsies game. I prefer that style of fighter. Playing footsies, is so much fun. It’s like a battle of inches.
Kash: While Boon and the rest of the NetherRealm staff are using this as a building block, do you think the game will help start an evolution in the fighting game genre? So far it seems your character and stage selection are crucial as well as each character playing uniquely.
Jason: I really like that idea. It’s new and it adds to the game. I just would wish that characters would have better walk speed and anti air. I respect Ed Boon and Hector Sanchez for all their work. It’s a great game but I have spoken to many of my Japan connects and I have been told “from what we seen the game looks fun but lacks a lot of fundamentals”
Kash: If you could grab any character from one game and put them in any other game, who would you pick, where would you place them and why?
Jason: I never been a fan of mashup or crossover titles. I’m in the minority but I feel like they really don’t work. I know they are way more people who feel I’m “crazy” but look at SFxT. Aside from so many issues the game has failed to build off the success of SF. That said if Fei Long was in SFxT I would be playing it lol. To me Fei Long is my all time favorite character. Next is Superman since he is good in Injustice. And to anyone who says “Superman is OP” I reply, HE IS SUPERMAN!
Kash: In this segment, I’m going to name two different characters, series, etc., and just tell me which one you’d pick over the other one.
Kash: Tekken’s Jin Kazama or SNK’s Terry Bogard, which fighting game poster child can give Ryu a run for his money?
Jason: None, they are both cool but we are talking about Ryu! He is the poster boy. Which is why the term is used “he is like Ryu” main character with great tools and fundamentals.
Kash: Probably both known for their crazy style, NBA Jam or NFL Blitz, which is the better arcade sports title?
Jason: NBA Jam! Blitz was fun but NBA Jam was the ish at the arcades. Breaking backboards, hearing Marv Albert say “from downtown!” That was the best.
Kash: Probably two sports title in the same boat would be the NBA Live series and the NBA 2K series. Which of the two is superior?
Jason: This is tricky. During the Genesis days it was NBA live but with Dream Cast and Xbox 360 2K is the king of basketball games.
Kash: Gears of War or Call of Duty, which of these two high selling shooters you think will last the longest for better or worse?
Jason: Oh man! Gears of War 1 was the king to me. I had no better feeling then getting “seriously” but COD has done better as Gears always tries to add something which only makes it suffer.
Kash: With Cliff “Cliffy B” Bleszinski’s departure last year, does this cement your answer with Call of Duty?
Jason: Gears suffered with Cliff on Epic. I enjoyed Gears 2 but it was so filled with bugs. Gears 3 was also good but the double barrel shotgun and retro lancer turned off many vets, myself included. Granted the game shouldn’t be just about shotguns but that’s what set it apart from COD and Halo. That action movie feel was the best. If you want to kill a player from afar then we screamed at you and told you to “go play call of booty” lol
Kash: Had to go retro with his last one, Super Mario Brothers 1 or Sonic the Hedgehog 1, which was the better platformer in your eyes?
Jason: Mario. I remember the day the NES came out with R.O.B! 1985 was a good year.
Kash: What’s your top three favorite games of all time?
Jason: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 (FF3 on SNES) and 3rd is up in the air. I had to spend an extra year in HS because of all the HS I missed due to those 2 games. I own the soundtracks to both and still listen to them. I even sampled a Chrono Trigger sound to make a rap beat. Real talk I still own the original games in mint condition along with the Nintendo strategy guides!
Kash: Any upcoming tournaments that you’ll be attending, whether to interview or secretly compete in?
Jason: No more competing for me. I will be going to ECTV, CEO and maybe EVO.
Kash: With stream sites like Twitch becoming the easiest gateway for people to view the community and players in action, is there any particular stream were people may see you or even the players you manage play outside of a tournament setting?
Jason: Teamspooky is the go to stream. I remember the first time I met Sp00ky. I felt like a mega fanboy because his streams helped me fall in love with the FGC. As for me… You can find my work on Eventhubs.com and I will start working on getting my own domain. If people enjoy my work and ask for more I may do more for them.
Kash: Any last words for the Broken Joysticks reader as well as any way for them to contact you with any questions they might have?
Jason: Thank you for this interview, I’m a nobody in the FGC but if I help 1 person then I did my job. Follow me on twitter @jason24cf also subscribe to my YouTube which is also jason24cf. I enjoy the work I do and I take pleasure in hearing people enjoy my work. Also good luck to you and keep up your good work.