Jon Rafman
Since 2008
jonrafman@gmail.com
Works in Westmount Canada

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Codes of Honor


Jon Rafman, Codes of Honor, 2011


Chinatown Fair arcade closed down on February 28th, 2011, after over 50 years. Gamers are still in mourning. CF, as it was known, was one of the last video game arcades in America where one could count on finding top-level competition.  I spent the better part of 2009 in that dingy, dim-lit arcade at the end of Mott street, which was the battlegound for the best players in the history of pro-gaming.

The first Street Fighter release in a decade —Street Fighter IV —just came out, sparking a short-lived renaissance in the fighting game community. I got to know the regulars at the arcade and began conducting daily video interviews, asking them to recall their greatest memories at the joysticks. I set up a YouTube channel, which was widely followed and the comment section became a major forum for debate in the community. During that year, I learned that to be a top-pro one could not simply master the technical aspect of the game; to compete at the highest level one needed to have a strong character and a deep understanding of human psychology. I learned that pro-gamers ascribe to the values and virtues of the classical archetypes of yore: honor, respect for the other, and excellence. Hardcore gamers have an experience of acheivement so intense that, although limited in scope and time, it is forever difficult to equal. Although nothing can rival the high they get from defeating a worthy opponent or the reputation during their reign, the fame is as fleeting as the high of the win. And so I learned of the tragic element that is inherent to the experience of video gaming...

 



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