REPLY TO ALL: Video Game Hustlers

All of this multiplayer talk has brought up some wild ideas, what if you were a professional gamer? Or even at a lower level, what if you were a gamer that just hustled your friends for money? What games would you dedicate yourself to and what games would we be surprised to find out that you are quite good at?


Arch Rivals

I wanted to punch him

I wanna kick this off with the only time I’ve actively taken money from a stranger because I beat him in a video game. My skills probably don’t hold up today, but one evening I was staying in a hotel while my family was traveling for one of my sister’s tournaments and they had an Arch Rivals arcade machine. I was probably 12 at the time. Well, some older guy twice my age was in there hogging the machine, and I wanted to play. I waited until he took off to get a drink before I put my quarters in to play a game. They douchebag comes back and promptly puts quarters in while I’m playing, interrupting my game to play vs. without asking. (Who does this with a kid?). Well, I’m pissed and just let the guy win. I just want to leave. He asks if I want to play again, and I said no, and he said he’d pay me 10 bucks if I won. (Again who does this to a kid?). Needless to say, I put my quarters in and keep it close through half time. Then, blow the guy away in the second half. He was stunned. I take his 10 bucks and leave him confused with his favorite game.


First off, you have to dedicate yourself to a game with a long shelf life. As fun as Bulletstorm may be, will anyone be playing that in a year from now? Obviously, you have to pick a multiplayer game and the king of the crop for me would be a Modern Warfare game. Even though it’s been 4 months since I’ve played a Call of Duty game, I’m confident that I could jump back in a be pretty successful. Basing the fact that it’s the game I’m probably best at, I would choose that to be my game. I don’t think any other game would be worth it for me to try and hustle at either.

Even though it is in the same genre, I would be surprised if I was good at any of the Battlefield games. I’ve never played any in the series even though I know they are in some ways superior to the COD series. After GDC I’m extremely excited for Battlefield 3 even though I’ll be playing on the 360 and not a PC.

If there was a way to hustle someone by playing any Mario games, I would choose that as well. Speed running Super Mario Bros. would be my bread and butter.


When we are talking hypotheticals, throw the rules out the window. There doesn’t need to be an active league or audience for your pro career. I’d watch Super Mario Bros speed run competitions sooner than I’d pay attention to the top Modern Warfare players.

Personally, I’d love to see a resurgence of those AKI wrestling games. At my prime, and this is going to come across as way too cocky, I was next to unbeatable in Wrestlemania 2000. At the very least, I could battle anyone to a draw based on the defense mechanics alone. Cole can attest to my reversal/blocking abilities. There were so many games around that era where it was impossible to judge your true skill level once you conquered your friends. I have no idea how good I was, I just based it one whether or not anyone was willing to play the game with me after 2-3 rounds.

Wrestlemania 2000

I'll block until you pass out from exhaustion

More recently, if I had the time, I’d put in training time with the Batman: Arkham Asylum challenge rooms. Getting into the zone with that fighting system made me feel like goddamn Batman. I’d love to see how I handled the pressure of an actual tournament with a crowd reacting to your every mistake and lucky break.


For me, it would have to be StarCraft 2. I get killed so easily in that game and dream of the day that I rise from beneath the bronze ranking and take aim at whatever rankings happen to be above that (gold, platinum, super gold?). There is big-time money in StarCraft 2 and I would love nothing more than to fly across the globe and trounce some Koreans at their national sport, then throw on a Tae Kwon Do gi and thrash them at their other national sport. I wouldn’t really need the guaranteed BJs one gets for being a pro player in Korea since I’m married, but I’d definitely loan those BJs to any of my single buddies.



Meowth's catchphrase

If I were to go pro in any game, I would love to pick an FPS game like CoD or Halo, but that is just played out. In this case, I would rather go pro in Marvel Super Heroes or any iteration of that fighting franchise. I remember playing that game at Aladdin’s Castle with a few friends of mine before wrestling meets. They would get so frustrated with me because I was nearly unbeatable with Iron Man. If I were to pull out the Beam Cannon, you were done. I would love to be playing this game on a stage face-to-face with my competitor and tons of people cheering. After destroying the competition, I would, of course, have to talk some pro-wrestling-style trash. If I can’t pick that game, then I guess Pokemon would be my first back up. I mean who wouldn’t want to win an RPG battle tournament with cute creatures (and make kids cry, because, why not?). I would only do it if I was promised Meowth would throw money at my face after winning. That would be sweet.


While I have hilariously fond memories of epic Pokemon battles back in elementary school, I have to go with another multiplayer game for my hustlin’. I have to go back to my high school days as a member of the Mishawaka Putt-Putt sponsored Dance Dance Revolution team. Yes those existed around back then, and I think there are still tournaments on occasion around the state. Back then I used to go play DDR pretty much every day after school and eventually got a set of metal pads for my Japanese PS2 (yeah… it was just for DDR) so I could practice as much as possible. There are few things like walking into an arcade where someone is playing that thinks they’re good and then blowing them away by doing one of the hardest songs in the game right off the bat.

Now that I’m older and wiser I realize I definitely could have hustled some folks back then. Maybe it would have paid for the practice equipment!

Dance Dance Revolution

My feet don't know what to do with arrows.


As much as I bad-mouth the FPS online gamers, honestly, the pro RTS and fighting game players are much scarier. I feel that if I focused, I could compete at some level in FPS games, but I would never stand a chance against hardcore StarCraft II or Street Fighter gamers. I really think my brain just doesn’t have that extra amount of microtasking that’s required to play at a high level on a strategy game, and the payoff isn’t as kick ass to me. At least in a fighting game, you and the crowd can instantly see when you are turning the match around and you have that final killing blow that gets the adrenaline pumping.

However, Ethan and I have been talking and I think if we recruited Alex and our good friend, @pwrglove, I would like to be the manager of their competitive Dance Central trio. We could tour the country and convert all of the old DDR players into the next level of dancing games. Of course, I’d take a majority of the profits and be on the lookout for the next hot new trio to replace them as soon as they hit the top.


I completely overlooked dance games in this. Yes, DDR is one of the more impressive games I have seen played and Dance Central is probably going to be just as big. I love any excuse to wear my dance leotard (though most don’t follow suit).


So…I’m late to the game! As much as I’d love to say I’d play professional TBS or RTS games (Civ 5 and StarCraft 2 come to mind), I’m with JDevL – I enjoy the crap out of those games, but my brain just doesn’t work the way it needs to to hose my opponents. On the other hand, my situational awareness and three-dimensional spatial rotation skills are Sierra Hotel, so it’s really a no-brainer: I’d play Ace Combat / HAWX or some other flight sim with arcade elements. I guess, technically, I could get paid to fly fighter jets and blow shit up if I joined the Marines, Air Force or Navy, but let’s be serious here – how would I save an entire country with only 2 AIM’s, 2 Sparrows and 2 Sidewinders? The ammo load out would just be too low. Anyway, that’s what I’d play because I’m already just that good at those games, single player or multiplayer. That said, if anyone wants to help me hustle some bratty 15 year olds at a Horrible Night event with one of those games, I’m totally in and will give you 20% of the proceeds. You wouldn’t find me on the ground because when you’ve got a Sukhoi Su-37 versus some Black Ops SOCOM dude with a modded M-4, Su-37 > SPEC-OPS.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

No competition in the skies.


I’m quite curious about these professional speed run ideas. Anyone have a game of choice in that arena? I think all of my Mega Man 2 tricks would come back to me quite quickly.


Dancing would be great, but we might stand to make more money laying a piece of cardboard on the floor with an oversized boombox somewhere. I recently watched a Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out speed run and it was extremely impressive. I would also like to get good enough to do a Ninja Gaiden speed run, but those games get so damn hard. I’ll practice speed runs on River City Ransom. That is one of my favorite games from the NES and would have no issue schooling people at that game. I, too, would be will to practice up on any Mega Man game in preparation for a speed run tourney.

Why doesn’t any one talk about Smash TV? It’s already a game show format and is a fight for your life and freedom. That would be the ultimate pro competition. We would just have to think of good consequences for the loser.


If they modernized Smash TV and gave it some Bulletstorm sensibilities and competitive leaderboards, I think we may have found my calling.


Are we talking about an updated Smash TV game or actually transitioning the game to a real life game show? I think it could be a good way to clear out some prisons while also entertaining the violence craving children that video games have created.

Smash TV

A reality show version could work, too


I meant reboot the game. I think that if you take the elements from the original arcade game and make it current gen we could have a great game. The games should also have the option to play top down or FPS (the Epic Gears engine might work as well). Also add some RPG elements such as extra ammo, weapon upgrades, etc. I also envision multiplayer for this as well. Have one mode that is a score attack with the regular game mode. Then make a mode where you advance through the rooms. The objective is to survive in a free for all mode. Once you win the room, you then progress to a new room with a lobby of players waiting for you. Have a set amount of rounds, and last man standing wins (with a point and/or XP bonus as well). The rooms would most likely have to progress in a manner similar to a NCAA bracket or else you would play forever. It could be construed as a new take on Horde modes. In the pro sense you then take the top 1,000 plus players and let them have at it to see who is victorious. I think this is a solid idea. PATENT PENDING (call me Acclaim, and we’ll talk)!


It’s an idea for something…at this point, it’s (C) rather than Patent. And if you’re going to whore it out to someone, I say give it to Blizzard or BioWare or Epic. I would say Rocksteady, but I haven’t seen its MP chops.


You would give a high action arcade shooter remake to BioWare or Blizzard? I’d give it to the Monday Night Combat guys at Uber Entertainment, they’ve at least attempted a gameshow type of format before. But it would be awesome if Blizzard could share their management and quality assurance skills. Anyway, what were we talking about before we made a million dollar idea?

Does anyone remember the BattleTech games that they would have at Gameworks? Back by the VR stuff back in the day. They’d have like a dozen pods, one for each person, and the screen would wrap about 180 degrees around you. Your team would compete and your group would see the scores at the end. Anyway, I’d like to form a gang to go back in time and rule the Battletech games and ruin little kids birthday parties. That’s all.


I’d give a high-action arcade shooter to someone with a proven record of great QA and online support who’d be smart enough to hire the right people to make the game; I considered Uber Entertainment but I was only moderately entertained by MNC.

The BattleTech games were AWESOME and if we manage to find a time machine, we should get on ruining children’s birthdays in 1996 as soon as possible. Count me in.


I’m always up for time travel and ruining a kid’s birthday, the order doesn’t matter. However, I wouldn’t want to be the guy coming upon a young JDevL and get my ass kicked either.


Competitive gaming is something we all wish we had time for, but know isn’t a realistic possibility. We may never get paid to play games, but for us, just thinking we are capable of competing at a high level is enough. Even if in that fantasy land, time travel is possible, too.


Giant Bomb (images)