Adhithya Mahesh’s Sundays have been packed over the last six weeks. This senior member of the Indian Fighting Game Community (IFGC), has recently begun organising tournaments for two games — Street Fighter 6 and Smash Bros — at gaming cafe LXG League of Extraordinary Gamers, in Nungambakkam. Very quickly, a community of gamers including exchange students from across the world, has been forged.
As the weekend approaches, there is a need to coordinate with the players who have registered. A live stream needs to be set up and consoles including the PlayStation 5 and the Nintendo Switch need to be functional.
How else will their 40-member group sit down to spar through the evening?
Adhithya says that IFGC began back in the early 2000s but has truly picked up pace in the last five years. “In a fighting game, each player will have a life bar that they need to protect. If we think about it, fighting games are much like chess and checkers. One needs to plan the next move. However, unlike chess, the moves will be simultaneous between both players,” he says.
At these Sunday sparring tournaments, two members take each other on in three-round matches. “It is similar to any Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) combat but you get to control what happens on screen,” Adhithya says.
IGFC began with only 10 members playing this niche section in the video game space about six weeks ago. Now, unexpectedly, they receive a minimum of 40 registrations for each game. An overwhelming but pleasant surprise.
Adhithya says that one need not have ever been an expert to play fighting games. This is echoed by Fauzan Ramelan, a 21-year-old exchange student from Indonesia who goes by Rooper at the tournaments. “This is a beginner’s tournament which allows new players to try their hand at fighting games. I met a bunch of the players on Discord (a communication platform for people with similar interests to connect online) but didn’t know what they looked like face to face. The three meet-ups that I have been to have been very fun and welcoming,” he says.
Fauzan says that he has competed in at least 15 tournaments elsewhere but Chennai seems “chill and not chaotic”.
A contemporary is 19-year-old Sree who is IFGC’s newest member. Sree used to play fighting games when he was young but he only picked it up again recently after he encountered the community at Animatsuri, an anime festival hosted in Chennai in September earlier this year. He says that he has gone there every week ever since. “It’s a fun place to go and try something new. There is also the additional chance to win money,” he says.
Ashwath N, who is part of the organising committee is a commentator on IFGC’s livestream. He says that the tournament go on from 2pm to 6pm but could be longer depending on how quickly one finishes rounds. Although they began only six weeks ago, the group has already gotten sponsorships for its top prizes.
Adhithya says that one must pay ₹200 to register and the price pot for both these games is set at ₹10,000 for each between the first and second place. He adds that everyone walks away with something at the end of a spar — perhaps a piece of art or an invigorating discussion with a local artist interested in anime and games. It’s not all battle scars.