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Fighting For Excellence: Trending the Similarities in Combat Sports and Video Games

Will Gray
15 April 2011
Fighting and Video Games

Over the years, video games have grown into a hobby that was looked upon as a “slacker thing” by some to an ever-growing industry that breaks barriers and stereotypes; the same could be said for MMA and combat sports in general.

Fighting has been around since the dawn of time and has evolved from a brutal attack to a refined sport where dedication pays off for the participant. Video games share the same reward. Where there is no gym for gamers, it still takes dedication and time to perfect their craft to become the best. Professional gaming was a laughable statement years ago but is now recognized as a community where input and opinion shape what is made for consumers.

As platforms and game developers have gone through the evolution of hardware, graphic enhancements and al around maturity of their industry, MMA has done the same. Described by politicians as human cockfighting, it is now internationally embraced and continues to grow into a mainstream industry and sport. This growth brings along expansion and exposure, and what better way to get your product to a hungry crowd than entertainment.

Without question, ZUFFA has helped catapult this mainstream acceptance by allowing their entities to be branded through many markets: apparel, sports drinks, action figures and video games (among other outlets). UFC first released “Ultimate Fighting Championship” on the PS1 in 2000 with subsequent titles released thru 2002 and then fell silent until 2009. In the down time, the sport exploded and propelled itself into the giant it has become today.

UFC Undisputed 2009 was released to fan praise in 2009. Many were glad to see the realism of the fight and how actual strategies needed to be utilized to secure victories. The sequel came and was disappointing in the sense that it felt rushed. THQ has since delayed the release of the next title until 2012 to fix the issues. In the time between UFC 09/10, EA Sports secured the rights to Strikeforce and Dream based fighters to help create competition against brands and video games. It was nice to see a different approach to the genre and sport, offering gamers different international venues, online competition brackets and the same fighting engine used for EA’s successful boxing franchise.

With the new purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa, not only has the professional roster in real life conjoined, but in the next game installment as well. Perhaps a newly overhauled game altogether could allow gamers to have the dream matches virtually that are only considered and debated. A fresh idea would be to have that exact option in the game. People could play online and see who would win with, Fedor vs. Couture; this may not sound so appealing now given The Last Emperor’s current fight streak, but add in a “time specific” Fedor like EA allows with their Madden games, and that could propel the gaming in a whole new direction. It would also allow for superfights that the fans want, but contracts may not allow until sometime.

Gaming and fighting go hand in hand with the community they bring, the debates that are within the groups and the respect that the fans have for the industries alike.

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15 April 2011

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