Note: The following is an opinion article, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Source Gaming‘s staff.
Hey everyone, I’m Zebei, a moderator over on a forum called Smashboards. Recently, the site opened up a new sub-forum designed specifically for speculating for Smash for Switch. There, people speculate about whether or not it is a port, what characters might be in or out, modes, stages, and all of the good stuff. But one thing I quickly realized was that the community almost instantaneously returned to its roots, and not in a good way. People were using illogical fan rules, being rude over trivial matters, and shutting down any opinions that did not fit with their own. Things have generally gotten better since then as speculation has calmed down a bit, but I imagine these problems will flare up again when Smash for Switch is officially announced. Therefore, this article is designed to give some basic guidelines to remember in order to form a greater community for all smash fans, and maybe reduce the inevitable salt storm just a little. I don’t mean to police opinions, but these are just things to remember to make things better for you and other speculators.
This guest article was written by Source Gaming fan Zebei. If you wish to contact Zebei for more information about his work then contact him over on Smashboards.
I know this sounds super cliché, but the Smash community is notoriously toxic. Just one or two people being a bit more understanding has the potential to drastically change the mood of a discussion. Take the following image taken from a thread in support of King K. Rool’s addition as an example.
This image was posted right in the support thread for King K. Rool. What could be accomplished by saying this in a thread devoted to enjoying aspects of a character? Other than hurting the poster’s reputation and annoying a few people: not much as it isn’t insightful at all. It’s absolutely okay to not care for characters. I don’t particularly care for Impa or Elma for instance (sorry fans!), but that doesn’t mean there is any need for me to be rude to supporters of those characters. Be courteous to others and remember that this is random speculation in the internet. Being disrespectful to people, no matter the reason, is not cool. It should be common sense but unfortunately it isn’t.
Keep an open mind:
This one seems like it should be obvious after Smash For 3DS and Wii U but I guess not. It’s one of the most important things I could recommend to veteran speculators and newcomers alike.
Many are quick to lock-in their beliefs and stay with them forever, no matter what new information comes about. This causes problems when they turn out to be wrong and immediately become angry that their belief was wrong. I’m sure many of us can remember when the final roster for Smash for 3DS was shown and how angry some became because their favorite character did not make the cut. In many cases this rage came because people knew that their character was a shoo-in. They were sure of the outcome and could not understand a reality where it did not come true. Unfortunately it seems history is repeating itself. A few select characters have quickly come to light as “shoo-ins” for the next entry: Inklings, Decidueye, Ice Climbers, Wolf, and others. Imagine the fanbase’s reaction if some of these characters are excluded. For now I will use the example of Decidueye.
Hey wait a minute, this one is from me! I’m not immune to this phenomenon either, and this certainly isn’t the only example. For a while now since at the very least since Rowlet’s reveal its final evolution, Decidueye, was a pretty strong contender for Smash by the fanbase. This was even before we knew what the final design was, mind you. But once we knew that the leaked Decidueye design was real, it was immediately considered one of the most likely newcomer for Smash by the fanbase, only rivaled by the Inklings from Splatoon. The basic idea is fine but the problem is that there are many other options. Incineroar, Tapu Koko, Mimikyu, Nihilego, and more are options that are completely being ignored. There is also of course the possibility that we won’t get a Pokemon newcomer at all. I worry that some people would be furious if Decidueye does not get in. This is why I advocate for an open mind for all situations and ask that people realize choices exist outside of their own beliefs. That way no matter what happens you can still enjoy how things turn out despite your own predictions and desires. Imagine how much less negativity the community could have gone through after Bayonetta and Corrin if they were expected or at least not immediately dismissed. What is the point of being a part of an internet community if everyone is just mad all the time?
Beware of fan rules:
We speculators often try to rationalize the character selection process based on patterns. Some are logical and even supported by Sakurai’s design philosophy but others are simply made up from patterns.
For instance, many assumed that 3rd parties could only have one character per company until Ryu’s reveal Shoryuken’d everyone away with a second Capcom representative along with Mega Man. Ryu also broke another fan rule based on something Sakurai sort of said; it was believed that Smash would never include fighting game characters, but it turns out that wasn’t true. Some fans have currently jumped to support Decidueye based on the idea that Smash needs to complete a “type trio” of fire, grass, and water. For them Decidueye checks off the grass requirement, with Charizard and Greninja fulfilling fire and water respectively. The issue is that there is no basis for this trio other than Brawl’s pokemon trainer, but the fact that Charizard came back alone and we have no grass type whatsoever in Smash For pretty much proves that this trio fans care for isn’t particularly relevant when it comes to Smash. So when thinking of reasons for a character’s inclusion or exclusion, think deeply about whether or not it is based on Sakurai’s actual way of choosing characters, or on something made up without any official statement. Even then be wary because Sakurai is human and can change his mind and some of his statements may not have been properly reported on in the first place.
“Representation” is a fickle mistress:
Everyone wants their favorite series to show up in the gaming Valhalla that is Super Smash Bros., but this does lead to a few issues. Many have been infuriated by this “reps” ideology that they hold. The fact that Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem received so much content was seen as a direct insult by some, while the lack of additional Donkey Kong characters (Even though Tropical Freeze as far too late to be considered for Smash) made others swear off Smash Bros forever. Clearly the amount of content a series has is very important to some people. You may wonder why I feel the need to bring this up, after all Sakurai did say that series representation matters. The first problem is that some react far too aggressively from one single factor of Smash, ignoring many other aspects. To some all that matters is the series a character comes from, overlooking anything else like their popularity in or outside of Smash, their uniqueness, or anything else. Focusing on just one criteria when there are many more to consider is tunnel vision.
Let’s say that you’re the kind of person who takes series representation very seriously. That’s fine as long as you are courteous but there is one thing I want to bring up involving tunnel vision; characters are not the beginning and end of representation.
In Smash there are plenty of other things to enjoy. Trophies, music, stages, and items are also an important part of Smash that the series could not live without. Yet they are largely ignored when regarding representation arguments. Many were angry about the lack of any new Legend of Zelda characters in Smash For, despite it receiving new music tracks, 5 new items, 3 new assist trophies, 3 brand spanking new stages,and one stage as DLC. There was of course more music and regular trophies as well, Sheik and Zelda were also separated each getting updates (3 new specials between both of them), but none of that seemingly mattered to anyone. All of that extra content adds up as much as people try to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Be careful of “echo chambers”:
Some seem to guage a character’s popularity on just a single site (especially obvious during the ballot period) leading them to assume their character is extremely popular. And yet when your entire database is from one source, it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be flawed. Twitter, Tumblr, Smashboards, Reddit,and previously Miiverse (RIP) for Smash 4, and more are home to Smash speculation, yet many believe that only one is an accurate representation of the community’s opinions. It’s best to get a variety of opinions so to get a broader view of opinions. Branch out to other threads and websites to see more! Almost as important, remember that these groups only really show the hardcore community, which is giant echo chamber by itself. Try to keep in mind that the enormous ‘casual’ fanbase exists as well which is much larger and harder to track than the hardcore communities.
Opinions are just opinions:
On the internet having an opinion is enough to anger people. I have personally been told to kill myself multiple times for wanting Ridley in Smash. It goes without saying that this is unacceptable. Let other people have their own views even if they don’t coincide with yours. If someone’s “opinion” is based on factually wrong information. Correct their misconceptions, but don’t be rude to them or pester them just because they disagree with you. This will only make them more adamant and make you look bad. But that doesn’t mean you need to keep your opinions stagnant. New information or just the passage of time should cause you to change your opinions on some occasions. Changing your mind is nothing to worry about and people aren’t likely to call you a hypocrite simply for changing your stance. Being adamant about opinions and never wavering can lead to disappointment, so try new things once in awhile!
Have fun with it:
This one is pretty important; enjoy speculation. Don’t get too serious about it. In the end, we don’t have much (if any) effect on the game. So have some fun when speculating and enjoy it while you can. Make some friends, be friendly to others, and get involved instead of just lurking all the time even if it’s awkward at the start. Being chill about things and trying your best to enjoy what comes to you is probably your best bet. If you get mad about everything that comes your way you will probably just wind up hating what you play. But if you keep an open mind and try to enjoy what you get you will probably have more fun (which is arguably the point of video games).
There’s plenty more I could talk about (like how clones like Dark Pit are positives for everyone or how slots don’t really exist in the way people think they do) but I don’t want to go on more of a tangent than I already have. I hope even a little bit of this advice is taken to heart. As speculators you might be able to enjoy things more if you don’t try to nitpick every little detail or at the very least use more logical criteria. Plus other speculators will certainly be able to enjoy the experience more when they aren’t surrounded by as much negativity.Enjoy things, let other people enjoy things, and be extremely careful of your own beliefs on how Smash is developed. Thank you for reading and let’s hope for some Smash news soon!
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)