Video Games as a Martial Art

It’s commonly understood that video games are art, comparable in principle if not in practice with movies, television, and books. They’ve also been called toys, aptly so. Video games are the fourth Kawaii artform – sports the first, toys the second, and comic books the third.

I’d like to introduce you to what for most of you will be a new understanding of games, as a martial art.

The operation of games is done with input devices, usually either a joystick, controller, or mouse/keyboard. The Oculus Rift is simply another input device.

Games vary in the amount of manual dexterity they require, but even a point-and-click adventure game requires some. Most games require a much larger degree of hand-eye coordination, and one of the primary metrics in high level Starcraft play is Actions Per Minute, the equivalent of a karate master’s number of actions in battle.

Sports are also martial arts, and in all forms of martial arts the concept of Zen applies, which is said by believers to enable the maximization of performance. These believers do not apply Zen to any non-martial artform, they don’t enter a Zen state to watch a movie, for example.

Unlike every other form of martial art, games have mostly done away with the importance of strength. Being muscle-bound is a hindrance in gaming, and we’ll never see a bodybuilder Starcraft 2 champion, not just for the reason that one can’t combine training with weights to training in the game. Having only enough strength to allow for effective basic movement of the wrists, arms, and fingers is important.

Although they are typically called “houses”, Starcraft training centers where the players live could effectively be called “dojos”.

When we consider the importance of gaming in modern culture, never have I seen games as a martial art be considered as a reason for that importance. Yet we can trace the popularity (in the West) of “kung-fu fighting” and the rise of video gaming from the exact same period of time, the fall of the West during the Vietnam War and the realization that the world was going to die. Forgive me for the technical term here, but following World War II the world entered an Age of Anxiety where due to the existence of and possible at-any-time use of nuclear weapons which could cause total global catastrophe people became distraught about the imminent possibility of human annihilation. This anxiety, deepened by the moral destruction of the West by means of engagement in the Vietnam War, caused the celebration of hyper-speed, the idea that through great speed we can still save the world. So 1977’s Star Wars, a movie which featured the fastest sword in existence, the Light Saber, plenty of hyper-speed laser beams, faster-than-light travel, a kung-fu (err, Force) master in Yoda, represented the triumph of hyper-speed within American culture. Shortly thereafter Super Mario Brothers came out, a game requiring such hand-eye coordination that when beaten would cause even Bruce Lee to bow in respect.

I’d like to end this post with the lyrics of one of the funniest and coolest songs ever recorded, by Carl Douglas titled Kung Fu Fighting (they should play this song at Starcraft 2 televised matches):

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up,  they were chopping them down
It’s an ancient Chinese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and a-kicking from the hip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we’re into a brand new trip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they did it with expert timing

(repeat)..make sure you have expert timing
Kung-fu fighting, had to be fast as lightning

keep on keep on keep on

everybody was kung fu fighting

One Response to “Video Games as a Martial Art”

  1. cat toy leather Says:

    Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favourite reason seemed to
    be at the web the easiest thing to be mindful of. I
    say to you, I definitely get irked whilst people consider concerns that they plainly do not recognize about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as outlined out the entire thing without
    having side effect , other people could take a signal.
    Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: