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 competed this past weekend immediately upon graduating and also one of the top Guy players in the United States, Shannon White a.k.a PxG | iRedman.
Kash: Thank you for joining me today, please introduce yourself to the Broken Joysticks readers.
iRedman: My name is Shannon White A.K.A PxG iRedman A.K.A Mr UFN. I am a player from Chicago and a really dedicated online warrior.
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?
iRedman: I decided my name based off one of my favorite rappers of all time. I am a huge fan of Redman, which also happens to be my favorite color. The “i” portion came along once I got my own XBOX 360, since the original Redman was taken I adopted the “i” to make it look presentable and it just stuck with me lol.
Kash: You mentioned previously that you are a dedicated online warrior, when then can we say you got your first start in the FGC?
iRedman: My first start in the FGC I would have to say is around 2012, which is around when UFGT8 started. I had never really made it out to events or anything and thanks to my sponsors PxG, they supported me in going to this tourney just from my online experience. I got 17th in this tourney and lost to two of the nations best so I felt really excited about everything after. Unfortunately with working two jobs and finishing school I have been unable to attend local events in Chicago, even though there are awesome weekly events in Chicago. Ignite Network, Game Pazzo, and Galloping Ghost Arcade are all wonderful venues and weekly locals I was unable to make it to due to my very busy schedule. So my only outlet to train was XBOX Live for the most part and training mode.
Kash: Before we get too far, congratulations on graduating on behalf of the Broken Joysticks staff. As we see in the picture you went to the tournament in your cap and gown immediately from your ceremony. How were you received by your opponents and the staff? Did the cap and gown increased your drive to win?
iRedman: Thank you very much it was a long time coming, and this moment will go down as one of the most important days in my life, and I will definitely share this story with my children if I have any with great pride and excitement. UFGT9 top 32 ran the same day as my graduation, and I had to rush from my graduation which was on the Southside of Chicago to the venue near O’hare Airport, which is far north. I barely made it in time lol. Everyone at UFGT9 treated me with such gratitude and praise I felt so overjoyed and overcome with emotion that it mentally paralyzed me lol. I had so many emotions running through my mind with graduating and rushing from one stage to the other just barely making it in time. The cap and gown increased a lot of things which might have in turn overloaded me because I couldn’t make left from right when trying to play lol. I was very excited to just be there on that stage with the likes of Mike Ross, Latif, Chris G, Air, and many other top players congratulating me was the best moment ever. I would also like to take this time to personally thank Keits for making this possible and giving me the opportunity to live out what many would call a dream. I might not have won this tourney, but I sure feel like I won that day. 🙂
Kash: Which game(s) are you most known for playing and what character(s) do you use?
iRedman: I am mostly known for playing Super Street Fighter 4 and I main Guy primarily and play Rose occasionally also.
Kash: Guy is a character I rarely see being used. It seems everyone prefers to use the likes of Ryu, Cammy, Akuma, Seth or Rufus. What made you decide to use Guy?
iRedman: I picked up Guy because he wore gym shoes. I have liked him since his fighting game debut in Street Fighter Alpha and as soon as he was announced for SSF4 I knew without a doubt I would main him whether he was a good character or not. It just so happens that my preferred play-style fits the character of Guy. I enjoy forcing the ground game while having the ability to rush down at will, so I tend to try to have the “Hybrid” fight style and Guy is incredibly capable of doing so.
Kash: Tell us more about PxG.
iRedman: PxG is a team lead by SolidxPanda (Jonathan Oudthone) which is a Live Gaming and Production team which is a team of streamers, designers and players providing streaming services and entertainment to the community. It has developed into not only an online entity, but has been providing streams for offline events. It is based in Arkansas which is were Panda resides and has slowly been getting bigger and bigger as the days go on.
Kash: You told us your reason for choosing your character but 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?
iRedman: I think it’s dependent on the game people play. I feel like when you talk about SSF4 more people tend to pick the character they like. When speaking about a game like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, I feel like more people pick characters that are based on tiers. Which is why you see Doom on every team or Vergil lol.
Kash: The FGC has been slowly evolving from something small to big as time continues to move. We are starting to see growth in numbers at venues. Do you feel the FGC is at the same level as eSports?
iRedman: Absolutely not at this time, but it’s definitely on the path to eSports. Events like UFGT, CEO, Final Round, SCR, NCR, VxG, and EVO are progressively pushing for that eSports status without making it exactly the same as LoL, Dota, or Starcraft. These tourneys and many more, as well as the professionalism and teams forming in the FGC we are definitely on the path to bigger and better things on the level of eSports.
Kash: How difficult do you think it is for a new person to enter the community and feel welcomed?
iRedman: I think it ultimately depends on the scene. The Chicago scene is extremely welcoming as the few events I have been able to make have made me feel like I have been going there for years. Overall I feel that is isn’t difficult to get into the community either, but being respected to a certain extent will take time. You have to prove yourself in this community which is how it’s been since the beginning of time, and I don’t think that will ever change.
Kash: How nervous do you get during a tournament match?
iRedman: I can honestly admit that when it comes to nerves I am absolutely the worst lol. it’s alot different than playing online and being able to run it back countless times until you figure it out. The caliber of player is way higher and you only get those few games. You have to execute everything properly, or at least better than your opponent, while maintaining composure in front of thousands of spectators possibly on stream as well as people spectating live. For someone whose only been to two majors this is a very scary thing and it is something I hopefully get use to as I enter more tourneys in the future.
Kash: While it’s something that’s been going on for a while, what’s your take on pot splitting? Should there be ramifications for doing it? Do you believe players are insulting fans, their previous opponents and their sponsors in doing so?
iRedman: Well for me personally, Pot splitting wouldn’t be an issue if the players still took pride in being the best. It’s hard to say pot splitting isn’t an issue when you see players purposely under perform in a grand finals because they are insured a certain amount of money. I have been playing SF since Street Fighter 2 World Warrior (just against brothers) and we wanted to be the best. In the days where there was little to no money fueling the desire to be the best it made for some of the most memorable breeds of fighters. Now when players pot split they make it obvious and don’t give it a valiant effort, which in turn robs fans and sponsors of an amazing grand finals. On the flip side of things the argument can be made that no one is beating the players pot splitting, so its time for people to step up to do so, but the issue isn’t about the money it’s about the show. If you put on a weak show because you know you’re getting paid then the fans are getting robbed, but if you still fight your heart out money or not then I can see it working. I am sure we have witnesses many finals which had pot splits that turned out to be phenomenal grand finals, the players just wanted to help each other financially. It’s no different than a player winning a tourney then hand 2nd place some money I guess.
Kash: Other than fighting games, what other styles of games do you play?
iRedman: I love MMO’s and Dungeon Crawlers! I play Diablo 3 a lot, I am patiently waiting for Final Fantasy 14 Realm Reborn, and I am a former World of Warcraft player. I use to play Socom U.S Navy Seals religiously on PS2 but the later titles were not that good.
Kash: What is your current system of choice and which system do you see yourself using for the next generation? So far the Wii U is out and we know roughly about half of what to expect out of PS4 and Xbox One.
iRedman: I currently use Xbox 360, but thats only because of a break in last year and I don’t plan to replace my PS3 until Final Fantasy 14 releases. I honestly will probably get all the next gen consoles but definitely not upon release. I tend to wait a year or two after release before getting the new next gen consoles. I know for a fact I will be using both the XBOX and the PS4, I am unsure about the WiiU.
Kash: With almost a month after its release, Injustice: Gods Among Us seems to be received well by the FGC. Will you consider picking it up?
iRedman: Absolutely not, I have never been a fan of NetherRealm video games but I will definitely support it. I only like marvel characters personally so I probably won’t be picking up the game.
Kash: Do you think the game will help start the evolution of the fighting game genre? NetherRealm is constantly trying to add life to the genre; do you think other companies are taking notice?
iRedman: I think that NetherRealm is doing a phenomenal job with Injustice and it’s definitely something that other companies will begin to look into. My only worry is with a fighting game patched this often it might ruin peoples drive to compete in a game that is changing so constantly. I would hate to see what happened with MK9 happen with Injustice, but so far NetherRealm has been spot on and I hope the success continues as it’s fun to watch played at a high level.
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?
iRedman: I would put Guy in King of Fighters 13. I feel like he would have sick cancels and combo juggles which would give you the feel of alpha guy in a completely modern game.
Kash: If you could challenge anyone in the FGC past or present, who would it be and why?
iRedman: I would challenge Infiltration. In this current time, Infiltration is hands down the best SSF4 player in the world. I would challenge him after allowing him to take notes on me and study me. I am a person who prides himself on playing the best around and doing my best to win. If I had the opportunity to play infiltration in a long set, I would not only get better as I take every match I play as a learning experience, I would also get a good gauge on where my skill stands against the best in the world.
Kash: Capcom brings you to a meeting to discuss Street Fighter 5. Would you bring in just the classics, have a roster full of new faces (like SF3 was) or have a nice mix of new faces and old favorites and why?
iRedman: I would bring all the characters from SF3, SF4, and SFA into one game while aging the likes of the OG cast to properly tie in to the other cast members. I would do this so that SF could finally have every dream matchup available. Who wouldn’t want to see Sean face Dan, and Seth fight Twelve? Or Alex vs Abel, and R.Mika vs Makoto? It would be the best thing ever!
Kash: If you could bring in any character outside of the Street Fighter universe who would you bring considering the vast number of fighting games that were made after the success of Street Fighter.
iRedman: I would bring in Johnny Cage, arguably the only fighter in the world with legit swag lol.
Kash: What’s your top three favorite games of all time?
iRedman: My top three favorite games of all time are Street Fighter 4, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, and Socom U.S Navy Seals 2.
Kash: Any upcoming tournaments that you’ll be attending?
iRedman: I am really trying to find a way to make it out to Arkansas Battle Circuit, CEO and EVO this year. I also would love to go to Canada Cup but it’s all dependent on my schedule, as a new graduate I have to secure a job before planning anything.
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 play outside of a tournament setting?
iRedman: Twitch.tv/Pandaxgaming is the place to go to for your 24/7 everyday SSF4 viewing! They host events such as Ultimate Fight Night and many other fun events such as Kash Money Championships. Also make sure to check out twitch.tv/alwaysgodlike which hosts awesome sessions such as round robin ft10s and uVSus featuring the godlike crew Lucky D, Glitch, Kazi, and Native Impact. You will always find something to watch and participate in on either of these twitch channels for you fight game fix so if you haven’t tuned in to these twitch channels yet make sure you do!
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?
iRedman: I would first like to say thanks to Broken Joysticks for the interview! You can find me modding and commentating away on twitch.tv/pandaxgaming or over at twitch.tv/alwaysgodlike. I would like to thank all the people who have supported the team and me to be able to provide content and an outlet for everyone. Thanks to twitch.tv/guttermagic, twitch.tv/fredex919, twitch.tv/keemmay, twitch.tv/cambocombo, and twitch.tv/airjuggle. You can find me on twitter @pxgiredman or hit me up on xbox live “GT: iRedman” and ask away!