My informant is an avid player of the Super Smash Brothers game series. This game has fostered a very unique community due to its wide appeal and unique gameplay mechanics. This community encompass all players who play the game, but in this interview when my informant talks about the “Smash Brothers community” he is referring to the community of thirty or so individuals who meet up weekly (or biweekly) at his local game store to play the game together. When they meet up and compete with each other it is called a “local” which simply is shorthand for local gathering or local tournament.
Me: So knowing that your main character is a large part of your identity in this game, is there any way to decide who is the definitive player of a certain character.
Him: Well yes and no. Because Super Smash Brothers is such a complex series there often isn’t an objective best player of a certain character within a community. If there is however, he would be the definitive player if that makes sense. However, when you pick a character you also pick what color costume you want him to wear. There are between four and 8 alternate costumes for each character I believe, depending on which game in the series you are playing. When you main a character you usually also pick your color. For example, I am our communities gold Captain Falcon and my friend uses pink Captain Falcon. This way people can tell us apart when watching the game even if they cannot see who is playing.
Me: But what if two people use the same color?
Him: Actually that doesn’t really happen. Once you’ve claimed a color it is kind of yours. Sure some else could use that color, after all there are tons of smashers (slang for members of the smash bros community) and only so many color combinations, but if they do it in your local area, or in a big tournament it would be pretty disrespectful.
Me: Why would it be disrespectful?
Him: I’m not actually sure why people make so much of a big deal out of it, but I guess it is because using someone else’s color is kind of like calling them out. If you use their color and lose the match it looks like you were saying they are bad. If you win the match while using their color it looks like you were saying that you are better than them. People actually get really serious about this. Sometimes at tournaments or other large gatherings people of the same main (people who play the same character regularly) who use the same color will challenge each other to a best of 5 match. Whoever wins the match gets to keep the color. Its kind of a big deal.
Me: So if you lose you just have to stop using that color.
Him: That’s right. At least publicly.
It is fascinating how much a color matters to members of this community. At first glance it seems almost unreasonable how much they fight for “their color” when there is no way to determine whose color it was first. However, when you see the sheer size of the smash bros community, you realize that it must be very hard to stand out. Given that, it makes sense that these players fight to cling on to whatever little piece of unique identity they can have. In this game there are only two ways to change how you look like. You can pick a different character or you can change your color. That means that your color is half of your visual identity. Knowing that, it is understandable how these player would take their color so seriously.