Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
February 29, 2020
arrowPress Releases

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

James Goddard saw the birth of the  Street Fighter II  phenomenon

James Goddard saw the birth of the Street Fighter II phenomenon

February 12, 2016 | By Chris Baker

James Goddard is a luminary in the fighting game community. He's the creator of Weaponlord, design director on Killer Instinct (2013), and a Capcom alum who was co-lead on SF II Hyper. 

We talked to him for a roundup of comments on the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter II, and we learned that he was also there to witness how SF2 gave birth to the fighting game community.

Goddard encountered Streetfighter II a month before its official release on February 6th 1991. The game was being testmarketed at a Golfland in Sunnyvale. He got to witness the emergence of unique player behaviors, and the dawn of esports. 

While SFII inspired so many of us to make other fighting games, there is something SFII did that no other game can touch. It founded the FGC (Fighting Game Community). I am lucky to have a unique perspective on this legacy, as I was there.

I will never forget the day my friend called me and said let’s go to Sunnyvale Golfland and play this game they have on test. We walk-in and there is a crowd around Street Fighter II, we had to wait 20 minutes to get to play.

It was overwhelming. It was wild. Six buttons, people talking in whispers about ‘secret moves’ (and acting out the strange motions those moves required). 

We stayed for hours until I had no money left. This was January 1991. I lived literally 1 block from Sunnyvale Golfland and I started playing every day. This led me to a job at Capcom within months.  

The FGC was started with simple weekly SFII tournaments at that Sunnyvale Golfland. Suddenly, everywhere there were reports of tournaments nationwide at a bunch of mom & pop arcades.

The community grew like wildfire and was so passionate and thirsty for knowledge, groups of players would drive hours or even states to face other people and learn more strategies. (no internet back then folks) I have over the course of my career watched this grass roots movement grow the FGC into the international phenomenon it is now, and it is amazing how players today are just as competitive, hungry for knowledge and passionate as they were when we all had mullets!

Goddard shared some pics from a tournament he helped put together--the first ever Northern California SF2 tournament. They show the passion of the emerging community (and confirm the ubiquity of mullets in 1991.)

Contestants lining up to get into the Milpitas Golfland. (Note the personalized SF2 tee-shirts.)

Competitors square off on one of the fourteen cabinets

Waiting their turn. (That's Goddard on the far left.)

Nor Cal SF2 champion Thomas Osaki

Related Jobs

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.
ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. — Austin, Texas, United States

Data Analyst
Heart Machine
Heart Machine — Culver City, California, United States

Technical Designer
Purdue University
Purdue University — West Lafayette, Indiana, United States

Assistant Professor in Game Development and Design
Heart Machine
Heart Machine — Culver City, California, United States

Gameplay Engineer

Loading Comments

loader image