Recently I’ve been re-getting into Street Fighter IV at arcades here, even though it came out last summer in Japan, and even though I suck. Coincidentally, the home version on X-Box 360 and PS3 just came out last week, but I own neither so that didn’t really have anything to do with it. Actually it’s probably because I started playing Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom in arcades and on Wii.
Anyway, you guys know Street Fighter: Rye-ooh and the Ha-doo-ken, etc. So I’m not going to write about the game so much as the players you see here. As expected, Japanese arcade players are insane. They know the games they like and they play them a lot. I don’t mean like every day they’ll throw in a few coins to play a few rounds. These guys spend their entire evenings (maybe days too) at the arcade, huddled around their weapons of choice, endlessly pouring coins into the games and being a major cause of Japan’s population decline. Normal arcade games here cost 100 yen, but the more expensive ones can go up to even 500 yen for the battlepod-esque Gundam game. Occasionally they’ll be there with a friend or two, but a lot of the ones I’ve seen are just there by themselves. OK, so they can socialize with the other people playing the same game, right? NOPE. With the exception of people who already know each other, I have never seen someone talk to another player. Not even something like “hey, nice game,” “wow, close one there,” or “TATSUMAKISENPUUKYAKU!!!!” Only silence. It’s kind of weird. At least that’s what I’ve seen.
Going back to how much these guys spend. Usually it would be impossible to know or even guess how much someone’s spent on playing a game. Luckily, SF4 has, like a lot of Japanese arcade games these days, a special card to keep track of your player information. When you’re playing at the arcade with your card, you accumulate points which can be used to get extra costumes, special content on the mobile site, babies, etc. Since this card also makes you commit to a character, a lot of people didn’t use the cards initially while they got a feel for which character they liked the best, etc. But when you do use your card, it’s all recorded. Your opponent during link matches can see your stats, like your ranking and win percentage*. This is where it gets scary. The other day when Brian and I were at one of the local arcades getting absolutely destroyed in SF4, we noticed the stats of some guy who was playing as C. Viper, jumping all over the place and embarrassing us horribly. Of course he had a fairly decent winning percentage, maybe 60 or 70%, but the shocker was the number of games he’d played on his card. The number was over 1,100. He has played a lot.
Let’s do some veeerrrrryyyy rough math. This might be wrong because it’s 2AM and I’m not wanting to think too much into this. Feel free to do some real thinking and correct me. So in SF4, each time you start playing, you pay 100 yen. If you win a link match, you get to play the next one for free, and so on until you lose. For today’s estimate, let’s say that the Player in question has spent 100 yen for every loss he’s had. If he had 1,100 games with around a 65% winning percentage, he lost 385 times. So right there he spent 38,500 yen. Of course we don’t know how many consecutive times he won on average, but let’s be generous and say he averaged 3 wins every time he played. So from the 715 matches he’s won, he only had to pay for a third of them, about 238 or 28,800 yen. That’s a total estimate of 62,300 yen (about $645 USD) he’s spent on this card alone. That is crazy. He could have just bought a new PS3 and the home version for that much. Again, this is just on the one card. It doesn’t include matches he plays on no card or with a different card. He could very well have it at home too. By the way, yes, that is him up in the picture.
The sad thing is that this is mainly just about arcades I go to here in Chiba, which I’m sure aren’t nearly as intense as the ones in super nerd districts in nearby Tokyo. And thus concludes our fuzzy math lesson about nerds.
*I am currently ranked “Rookie” with a “0%” winning ratio.