(Header photo by Jeff Junio)
I remember the Street Fighter arcade game showing up in Tallahassee decades ago. No one had seen anything like it at the time. The crowds of people it drew were crazy. Most everyone else picked Ryu/Ken or Guile. A couple would pick one of of the other characters, but I unintentionally gravitated to E. Honda, a sumo wrester that people just didn’t seem to understand. He was slow, had no ranged attacks, and was a big target. (Same could be said for Zangief, but that guy got a few players using him.) Anyway, Honda worked for me because he fit my play style: direct, deliberate, deadly.
“Uh...why’d you pick that character?…They SUCK!”
That was the usual response, and it wasn’t an isolated incident. I was known for picking alternative characters/options. And I don't mean the stereotypical “weird” characters, but I mean the characters that would legitimately confuse people when I picked them. I used that to my advantage.
First, by playing with a different character, I could exploit the inherent sameness most everyone exhibited. If a local guy got good at a basic character, then everyone would copy that player. I didn’t have the money, time, or patience to compete on their turf. But because people get stuck in their patterns, I could easily become a disruption by utilizing different characters.
More importantly, I have fun with variety. It gives me energy. I would get bored seeing the same characters played over and over. Why have 8-12 characters if you’re only going to ever see the same 3 or 4 of them used? That's a waste of entertainment!
Then, at some point, it dawned on me that this wasn’t just a “games” thing, but a phenomenon that arose in the choices I made in school, sports, comics, art, food, television, clothing, etc. I just did what worked for me. That usually meant picking an alternative.
While this path has put me in numerous social predicaments, I have learned to embrace it, enjoy it, and profit from it. It's kind of what I do now. People are usually waiting for someone to step in with a solution they didn't think about.
Being true to your art is going to take you down a different path unto itself. Be warned though, there are dangers to be found, but also MANY rewards to be reaped.
So I won't suggest you just try to be unique or weird for the sake of it. That usually just puts people off and can cause unnecessary headaches. Instead, make the choices that actually interest you and make sense to you. Don't fight it. All other choices be damned.
- Benja -