My Journey Through Smash by Samuel Jularbal

In early 2014, a friend showed me a documentary based on the competitive history of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube. I had played the game as a child and loved so much it became one of my most memorable games of childhood.

Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube

Going in I had my expectations for a well-detailed history of the game, possibly triggering nostalgia here and there, but what I witnessed was something completely different and what I had done afterwards was something I had never expected.

The game consisted of a famous cast of Nintendo characters

Released in 2001, Super Smash Bros. Melee went through a turbulent history from a popular fighting-party game that had almost died in the wake of a sequel to its epic revival into now one of the biggest e-sports in the world.

'The Smash Brothers' by Travis Beauchamp, East Point Pictures

The documentary called “The Smash Brothers” focused on the legacies and histories of some of the great legends of the game, individuals who pushed the game to its limits to create something unique and unlike anything else. This party game everybody played as a kid turned about to be a lot more than people first thought. It became a way of life.

My journey began from watching the documentary, those who joined the “smash community” post 2013 were known as the “Doc Kids” (Documentary Kids). We were the fresh blood on the scene, "the easy money" as we were known. Those who would “drown” (lose all their games) in pools.

I had gone to many tournaments in my region (London) but I had failed to show much improvement over the course of a year and a half. Many newer players began outplacing me and my frustration grew only further with each disappointment. I was at the brink of quitting before I gained a certain form of access to the game I played that very few actually used.

Through PC emulation of Gamecube games, a once exclusively offline game such as Melee, had suddenly became available online. I could play people across the globe and practice with people whenever I wanted and I so began to improve immensely.

But as time went on, my tournament visits declined. I was stuck at home being unable to travel due to either lack of funds or commitments outside the game. I would only be able to play online and not play in an intense competitive environment, causing my few placings to drop. When eventually people began to stop using online gameplay due to the negative connotations it had with the wider smash community, I realised I began to lose practice partners, further slowing my improvement.

Discord was released in March 2015..

A new online communication service called Discord was newly released and in early January 2016 I decided that I would create an online server for the UK Super Smash Bros. online community. Initially I thought that only just a few of my friends would join but soon the server began to populate rapidly.

In just a few weeks the server had over 100 members, though many didn’t actually use the server for online games. Instead people began to use the server for way of discussing the game that other platforms like social media didn’t provide. I began to take it seriously to cater the server to not just games but as a way for people to socialise within the community anytime and anywhere they wanted.

Other communities across the globe began copying and creating their own unique servers for not just the game but for social aspects of the community. I was able to contribute something, even though it was just a tiny contribution to the community and game that I love.

A Super Smash Bros. Melee weekly tournament in London. Courtesy of J.A Holland.

The funny thing about this story is that there isn’t an ending. I’m still planning to travel more and meet more people along the way. I am still running the server which now has over 500 members and I am still planning on becoming one of the best players of the game.


Nintendo Travis Beauchamp J.A. Holland Discord

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