The clicking of buttons and loud chatter inside of the Folsom Street Foundry did not distract the last two competitors of the Ultra Street Fighter IV video game as attendees gathered around them to get an up-close glimpse of the final match.
SF State broadcast and electronic communication arts major Pavo Miskic sat with the video game controller in his hand and did not let the surrounding bystanders distract him as he selected his character for the match, Poison, a pink-haired on-screen fighter who beats opponents with her acrobatic kick flips.
“It’s competitive for sure because people here want to win so bad it’s ridiculous,” Miskic said. “Six years of playing this game just to get better at it and I’m still not good enough to myself.”
Both gamers kept their eyes glued to the television screen, sweat forming on their brows as they waited for their last match to begin.
After what seemed would be a loss for Miskic, it was through his last combination and ability to observe weaknesses in his opponent’s character that led him to a victory.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Folsom Street Foundry hosts SF Game Night where individuals gather to play video games such as Smash Brothers, Ultra Street Fighter IV, Rock Band and numerous card and board games.
The twice-a-week event started back in early 2014 when the eSports organization ShowDown Entertainment partnered up with the small venue to provide an environment where adults 21 years and older could gather to play video games competitively or in a casual manner.
“It (SF Game Night) is a place where the San Francisco gaming culture can get together,” said Andrew Wu, an eSports organization member who is in charge of running the Super Smash Brothers tournament. “We want to create an environment where we can all come and have fun and where the community can come together.”
The venue has nearly 600 attendees each Tuesday and Thursday, with Thursday being the busiest day, according to Wu.
Anywhere from 30 to 60 competitors can enter each Ultra Street Fighter IV or Super Smash Brothers tournament by paying a $5 fee to compete. The tournament is based on a bracket series where gamers are paired to compete with one another until there are two remaining. The top three gamers from each tournament split the money prize at the end of the competition.
With the heavy school schedule Miskic has this semester, he said he no longer attends SF Game Night as much as he has in the past. Regardless oh his hectic schedule, Miskic said he continues to practice by spending about 15 hours a week playing Street Fighter or observing gamers on YouTube.
“In my spare time I watch hours worth of matches to try and understand new concepts and how things interact,” Miskic said. “I notice patterns in how people play and exploit it.”
For competitive gamers like Miskic, SF Game Night is not just a place to compete or improve gaming skills, but also a place where gaming is accepted. As community leader for the Northern California Smash Four Community, a Bay Area-based gaming group, D.J Kirkland said SF Game Night brings individuals from all different backgrounds together for the bond of competitive gaming.
“It’s been a huge part of my life,” Kirkland said. “I would say to the outsiders looking in, look at it as people just really into a sport. You identify and it draws you in. Be open minded, be a sponge to everything and see what gaming has to offer.”