This week Seth Killian resigned as Community Manager for Capcom USA. Seth joined Capcom in 2006 and for the last six years he’s been a constant feature in Capcom’s interactions with the fighting game community worldwide. Many Australians, including myself, were lucky enough to meet Seth when he visited Sydney for the Capcom Showcase in February 2012. Speaking with Seth during the event it was impossible to overlook how deeply passionate he is about fighting games and the competitive community of people that play them.
This week I’ll mark the end of Seth’s time at Capcom by looking back at his contributions to the company and the fighting game community. Throughout I will focus specifically on the inspiration that Seth provides for tournament organisers within the fighting game community.
s-kill: Before Capcom
Before he became Capcom Community Manager, I knew of Seth Killian as s-kill, author of a series of articles on the Shoryuken forums called Domination 101. In this series Seth sought to help players overcome “scrubby” preconceptions and embrace the ideals of competitive play and continuous improvement. I discovered Dom101 in 2000, well before OzHadou and at a time when I was clueless about competitive play. Part of the reason OzHadou exists is because Seth’s writing lead me to start running tournaments.
In his time s-kill was a serious tournament competitor. In 2002 he co-founded Evolution, one of the largest fighting game tournaments in the world. Before there were live streams and commentary desks Seth was on hand sharing in the excitement of Evo’s greatest moments. This famous one happened in 2004, and you can hear Seth screaming with the crowd long before he worked for Capcom USA.
Looking back at his time with Capcom, I can see three ways Seth provided inspiration for tournament organisers within the fighting game community. These are perseverance, delivering events and employing publicity.
The Power of Perseverance
In this interview with MTV Multiplayer, Seth recalls how he started his career with Capcom USA.
“It was crazy. I would play “SF2″ on the arcade machines at the Capcom booth during E3, and then try and corner Capcom employees for posters and keychains to give away at the fighting game tournaments I helped to run. For a few years they just told me to get lost, and then one year I met some new Capcom people who sat and listened to my crazy ideas for a while. They ended up offering me a job.” – Seth Killian
Through persistence Seth was in the right place at the right time, with the right attitude to realise a chance many fighting game enthusiasts have dreamed of – the power to turn Capcom’s attention towards the fighting game community from the inside.
Tournament organisers face a lot of setbacks and constraints when trying to deliver events. In order to realise your goals you need to take a long-term view and be prepared to keep trying, refining your efforts as you go. As the saying goes “You miss all the shots you don’t take.”
If You Build It, They Will Come
As Capcom Community Manager, Seth was a driving force behind the many public demo events that Capcom held around the world. As an Evo co-founder, Seth knew there was no better way to interact with the community than getting up close and personal, allowing people to explore Capcom’s products first-hand. Capcom’s Fight Club events were always oversubscribed wherever they were held, including the Capcom Showcase in Sydney.
Seth has proven that if you put together an event with the players interests in mind then the community will consistently come out and support you. This resonates very strongly with any tournament organiser, as all organisers know that without the support of the community their efforts are meaningless.
If given a chance to work at Capcom, most fighting game players would probably want to work with the development team, specifically as combat designers and/or engine testers. In fact numerous fighting game players have gone on to work for development teams within the video game industry. However when Seth was offered a job with Capcom USA, the position was Community Manager. Seth was required to be a public face for Capcom, dealing directly with consumers and the media. I suspect a lot of people in the fighting game community would turn down such a job, but not Seth Killian.
Seth took to his role with gusto. I can’t think of anyone else in video game public relations (PR) that ever came across as genuine as Seth did. When Seth spoke you immediately knew that he understood the games, the people that played the games, and that he cared greatly about both. Seth had the knowledge and experience to hold his own in analytical discussions about the games, but also the wide-eyed passion to sell the wonder of fighting games to the wider gaming community.
Seth was always very generous with his time. As seen at the Capcom Showcase, Seth spoke with anyone and everyone (including me). He never refused to speak with anybody, and developed a talent for making the most of the massive amounts of feedback he received on a daily basis. Seth knew that his job was PR and he took that job very seriously.
Tournament organisers often forget the importance of PR. Many organisers are excellent at planning and coordinating but are less comfortable standing up in front of a crowd or giving their time to attendees one-on-one. Seth highlighted just how powerful good PR can be. Even if organisers themselves don’t feel comfortable in that role, I think more needs to be done to enlist people who can take up the PR-mantle and help bring the community together via good PR at the tournament level.
The Legacy of a Legend
“A job is what you make of it.” Seth didn’t let his position title constrain his contributions towards Capcom and the fighting game community. His desire to have a say in the development of fighting games resulted in his appointment as “Special Combat Advisor”. In this capacity Seth helped to steer the course of numerous games that have brought the community many hours of competitive entertainment.
On the retro-side Seth contributed to downloadable titles such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition. However Seth’s greatest fighting game achievements were helping to revive two of Capcom’s flagship fighting game series. The results speak for themselves, as Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 remain the most fiercely contested tournament fighting games in the world.
Seth has also helped to bring Capcom more directly aligned with the fighting game tournament scene. In addition to bringing Capcom and Evo closer together, Seth helped sow the seeds that have become Capcom’s $500,000 tournament series in 2012. Seth has done his utmost to make sure the competitive scene is well supported by Capcom even after his time with the company has ended.
Seth’s resignation marks the end of an era. I realise there are many people out there that have never experienced a video game industry without Seth Killian working for Capcom USA. For some this may seem a bleak time. However I expect Seth will continue to be an active force within the fighting game community, just as he was before 2006. While I’m sad to see Seth leave Capcom, I’m also happy to see that he is moving on to a new stage in his career.
On behalf of OzHadou I’d like to publicly thank Seth Killian for all that he’s done for the fighting game community, including Australia, and for being a source of inspiration for tournament organisers and players alike. Good luck in the next phase of your career s-kill, and here’s to many more years of cross-handed hadoukens.
Photos from the Super Ultimate CAPCOM Showcase (Arcade Edition) courtesy of kientan.
Various photos of Seth Killian courtesy of Seth’s blog on capcom-unity.com.
Photo of the Evo commentary desk courtesy of theverge.com.
Video from Evo2004 courtesy of Mr Wizard’s Youtube collection.
Photos from a Capcom Fight Club event courtesy of insidegamingdaily.com.
Photo from Evo2010 courtesy of Micahel Yu via snk-capcom.com.
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]– Ziggy –[