The dissertation has kept me from posting here, friends, and for that I am sorry. In order to make it up to you, I’d like to present you with the first two pages of that very document. This story is not only how I draw the reader into my study, but it’s also a truly, truly stupid story of my youth that will likely bring a smile to your face.
Without further ado:
Like much phenomenological research, this study has its roots in my own personal experience with the subject. Thus, the story of this work begins in Waterbury, Connecticut in the summer of 1991, just outside the mall-side entrance of a drug store in the city’s largest shopping mall. Sitting there was an arcade machine of Street Fighter 2, one of the oldest digital fighting games in the history of the genre, and certainly one of the most iconic. A gamer even at a young age, I found something fascinating about the SF2 machine. Dubbed The World Warrior, the characters of SF2 were colorful, brassy, and unique. Massive, muscled Zangief the Russian pro-wrestler would face off against an emaciated Indian yogi named Dhalsim inside a digital recreation of a Cold War-era Russian steel mill. Dhalsim’s voice would ring out, “Yoga Fire!” as he inhaled and spit fire across the field, the fireball connecting with Zangief and briefly causing his entire body to black out, engulfed in a digital rendition of flickering scarlet flame. My favorite at that early age was the only female fighter in the whole group, a Chinese martial artist named Chun-li, whose high-kicking and acrobatic style drew me in.
At the time I lived in Plymouth, CT, a small town outside of Bristol, a good 20 miles from Waterbury. Whenever we arrived at the Waterbury mall for whatever reason, I hoarded my quarters and begged my parents for leave to run off to the drugstore to play Street Fighter. One of my most salient memories of those times was when another player – a teenage boy, Asian, much older than me – stepped up to the machine and put in a quarter. Suddenly, he was challenging me, and we were duking it out in digital form for the right to keep playing. If I lost, then my game was over and my quarter was through. This was a different thing altogether from the normal arcade games I had come to love, shooters like Centipede or Gauntlet or Star Wars, where I could play until the game itself did me in. If I wasn’t skilled enough to beat this guy, then my quarter was gone for good.
I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to beat him. I remember watching him turn to me with a frustrated expression, saying in an exasperated tone, “Oh, usin’ cheesy throws!” I also recall not understanding what in creation he was talking about; to this day, I remember that my young ears heard “Chinsey” rather than “cheesy,” and I assumed he was telling me the name of the secret technique I was using to defeat him. I can only imagine his exasperation when I turned to him and said, bright with pride at my perception of his approval, “Yeah! Chinsey throw, for sure!”
And that’s the story. I’m not even sure why I remember that a staggering 19 years later, but I do. I don’t think I even realized that he was saying my use of throws was cheesy until a good solid 3-4 years later, once I’d had more time playing fighting games myself.
In any event, I now need to return to putting the final touches on the dissertation as a whole. I hope, however, that this little anecdote brought a smile to your face.