UVic prof publishes investigation on zen of Street Fighter

Prof drawn to whether violent fighting games make people violent

To the delight of gamers, university professor Chris Goto-Jones hosted a Streetfighter video game tournament to celebrate publishing his study on gaming.

For years, Goto-Jones, the Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria has been looking at the effect video games have on the people who play them. In 2016 he published an academic text, The Virtual Ninja Manifesto, which argues, among other things, whether Street Fighter is a martial art. While he was originally interested in the effect violent video games have on people, he said, the focus of his study changed. It led him to a new world and a new way of looking at gaming.

What he argues, is that video games (some more than others) can become a martial art, only people use their thumbs instead of their feet.

“In the 80s there was a fuss over whether learning the martial arts make you violent, and the backlash there was actually, ‘no,’” Goto-Jones said. “The training and the discipline that you get from the martial arts make you better, so what we are testing with this project is if you can say these things about video games.”

Goto-Jones based his research on Capcom’s Street Fighter II as the industry standard. Released in 1991 for Super Nintendo, it gave rise to many more games, such as Mortal Kombat in 1992 and Tekken in 1994, as well as others. Together, they redefined the gaming industry. Street Fighter now his five editions, all staying true to the original model of the game, a 2D, one-on-one fight.

What Goto-Jones discovered, and maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise, is that it came down to the intentions of the players. Some seek improvement, some seek only to win, while others find a type of zen.

Those who seek improvement can find a transformation, and a type of unity with the characters and moves in a game, that mirror the transformation of real life martial arts.

It’s how Goto-Jones came up with the idea of the Virtual Ninja Manifesto. It’s the fruit of his project, and a key part of the presentation he delivered prior to the final round of the Street Fighter tournament in the McPherson Library on Jan. 26.

“What really matters is the intention, the meaning you’re bringing into the game,” he said. “So if you’re playing the game in order to accomplish something uplifting, something spiritual or ethical, then you take out of the game something in that direction. Whereas, if you come into it just wanting to beat people up and exercise violence, then that’s what you’ll take out of it too.”

To be clear, not all 20,000 UVic students were made aware of the tournament. However, anyone who thinks they are a strong Street Fighter player will have to get through applied linguistics Jun Nguyn, who won the inaugural tournament (Goto-Jones expressed interest in holding the tournament again).

“I’ve done a lot of theory, studied how many frames there are between moves, things like that,” Nguyn said. “But I’ve never been in a tournament before.”

For Nguyn, the results of the Goto-Jones’ study made sense.

“People get salty, they get mad [throwing controllers at the television],” Nguyn said. “But I’ve seen people do that and a week or two later, they try again [with a different mentality].”

And yes, through vido Nguyn can find his zen.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Denciti Development Corporation is ready to start building a 108-unit residential building at 6117 Uplands Dr. (Integra Architecture Inc./Denciti Development Corp. image)
Developer ready to get started on apartments on Uplands in north Nanaimo

More than 100 units planned for 6117 Uplands Dr. building

Deborah Saucier, Vancouver Island University president and vice-chancellor, was among the panelists in the Future of Post-Secondary Education discussion at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Oct. 28. (VIEA YouTube screenshot)
Island’s universities challenged to ‘build community’ amid remote learning

VIU, UVic and Royal Roads University admin discuss COVID-19 impact at economic summit

John Albert Buchanan, accused in the September 2017 murder of Richard Sitar in Nanaimo, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Man accused in Nanaimo beating death told police he didn’t hurt victim

Arresting officer takes the stand in John Albert Buchanan’s second-degree murder trial

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read