It's news so bizarre it's a wonder the internet hasn't produced it before. The powers that be at EVO, the largest international fighting game tournament and end-all, be-all of the fighting game community worldwide, are holding a competitive breast cancer awareness donation drive. The contestants: fighting games. Not the major ones such as Street Fighter, Tekken, and the like, but the second-stringers: older and indie games. The prize: be the eighth and final "big game" at EVO, with over a thousand dollars in the winner's pot to attract a sizeable player base and raise the game's profile. The gameplay: vote with your dollars for a game to beat the evil Breast Cancer and save all the boobs, everywhere, forever.
The contest slash donation drive has been happening for about three weeks now, and the standings of the approximately twenty games have fluctuated wildly over that time. Three front-runners have emerged, each with their own dedicated community backing it. Who are they?
First is also the newest game in the whole line-up. My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic isn't even finished yet, but it took an early lead in the standings. In this indie game based around said franchise the titular ponies fight each other because that's just what good friends do. Bronies, as male fans of the cartoon call themselves, pushed early and hard for their chance to shine at EVO this summer, and the EVO staff has responded with at least a side tournament for the game regardless who wins.
Second is Nintendo's aging Super Smash Bros. Melee, on the Gamecube. Smash and its community of Smashers has had a rocky relationship with the progeny of Street Fighter 2. EVO tends to focus on a series' latest incarnation, but the one time that Super Smash Bros. Brawl appeared at EVO it was a distasteful affair that satisfied no one, least of all the smashers who maintain that Melee is still the only tournament-worthy version. (Hopefully this will change with the fourth entry in the series, due to be announced at E3. Stay tuned.)
Last is the indie Skullgirls, created by a tournament-level player of Marvel vs Capcom 2. Available for download on PS3 and Xbox 360, the game's panty-flashing graphics raised a few journalistic eyebrows at its release, but it has a strong following in the fighting game community on the grounds of being made by one of their own. Skullgirls' community held a donation drive this past Thursday, and one of the incentives to donate were telephone calls from the game's own voice actresses. It apparently worked, because Skullgirls now tops the charts with over $21K in donations.
The fighting game community has always been hyper-competitive, male-centric and at times lacking in certain social graces. But even if it does take a scantily-clad videogame character calling you for you to open your heart, curing cancer while shining a light on tournament-level players and hard-working indie developers is definitely a pair of big wins.