Written by Tuan Giang on May 5, 2018
I wanted to write this article as a reference point when people ask me about my hobby - playing Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM) for the Nintendo GameCube.
Many people are surprised to hear why I would play an outdated game compared to the newer and better graphic game. To answer the reason why, we need to go back to my earlier childhood.
Super Smash Bros. Melee was released on November 21, 2001 when I was six year old. At the time, I was not even in the United States as I was still living in Vietnam. In retrospect, Vietnam was possibly behind many countries in terms of entertainment. I remembered that we did have a TV with as many channels as you can count on one hand. As a child I would get roughly around 5-10 Vietnamese Dongs, which is roughly around around $0.50 back in the early 2000s conversion rate, for my daily allowance.
There were not a lot of households in Vietnam that owned entertainment center let alone game consoles. But in my neighborhood, there was a gaming arcade. With my daily allowance, I would frequent the arcade and play Kings of Fighter '94 (KOF94). For KOF94, you could pick three fighters to play against an opponent. My favorite fighter was a character named "Terry Bogard". I thought he was the coolest fighter ever because he would punch into the ground and emits a fissure of fire. Eventually, the neighboring kids that were my opponents would just recognize me as the kid that would always play Terry.
In 2003, I migrated to the US. My mother brought me a GameCube along with two games - Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Mario Party 5. Super Mario Party 5 was cool but it was not Melee. I spoke very little English and had very little knowledge of the American culture. For a while, all I did was go to school, go home and watch television, and play Super Smash Bros. Melee for hours at end. It was not until I saw some other youths playing at the commonground outside of my apartment that I ventured out to make some friends. Kevin and I became very good friends. Eventually I became acquainted with the other neighbor kids (much like how it was in Vietnam).
On Friday, Kevin and I would go over to our mutual's friend place to play Melee. I would play Sheik against Kevin's Samus. That's when I knew that the adage of "Time flies when you're having fun" was true because as a kid that was what I looked forward to all week was Friday where I could hang out with my friends with no worries in the world. But, the world is funny sometimes, because time flies no matter what.
Life happens, I moved and Kevin moved, the Fridays that I looked forward to stopped happening. Middle school and high school passed by in the blinks of an eye and all the sudden I was in college at University of Hawaii at Hilo. One day, I saw a documentary in Super Smash Bros. Melee called "The Smash Brothers Documentary" and I was mesmerized by the newfound knowledge of the game I loved. I was 20 years old and the memories of all those Fridays came flooding in my mind. I started hosting Melee events on Friday at the one of the dorm's activity room and if we had to then we would even sit on the floor at the campus center to play Melee.
And like before, I made friends and memories through Melee. My buds from Hilo - Kyle and Chris
Like everything, gaming has its advantage and disadvantage. Fortunately, I have had a lot of benefits from Melee such as making friends and memories with them. The stigma against gamers are a whole lot better now and I am hoping the eSport will be recognize as a prominent social event for interaction. I am lucky that Melee is played through a CRT because it allows people in the community to interact face-to-face interaction which might be why I can make more direct connections with other smashers. However, it does not goes to say that online friendships cannot be made - just through a different medium.
I guess to summarize everything together is that the tag Terry and playing Super Smash Bros. Melee remind me that even though life happens and things change, a person must not forget about the past. Even though I wear pants five days a week, I can look forward to every Friday where I am still that little kid that would select Terry Bogard without any hesitation and play Super Smash Bros. Melee with my friends without trying to figure the complexity of the world (that will be reserved for my philosphical talks).