#FightFriday: Frame Data is for Cowards

It’s always interest me to see how far fighting games have come. For me, I’ve gone from mashing buttons against my dad in Street Fighter 2 to playing some of the most bonkers games and holding my own with a fair bit of knowledge, instinct, and some level of fundamentals. It has come with years of playing fighting games and for the most part, it’s been a fun experience.

Learning more about the games I play is the most fun I have in a game. I’m the type of player who’ll sit in training room and practice possibilities with combos, even if they don’t always translate to real matches. But despite the fun I have in learning games, there’s one aspect that I know is necessary but I find less fun: frame data.

Now, before we continue let’s establish something. I know frame data is necessary. I know that it’s a tool for people to improve their game. I do not think that having access to frame data is a bad thing. All that said, it’s kind of a drag. That’s why, in a rare occurrence, I kinda understood where Punk was coming from when he said that frame data ruined fighting games.

Sure, we know that frame data has always been a thing, but we didn’t have it so readily available to us. So, we kinda had to lab and feel it out. For beginners or causal players, frame date is numerical values that tell you the properties of a character’s attacks. It usually includes a move’s start up, active, and recovery frames. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube that go deeper into this topic. For today’s purposes know that frame data determines whether your options are safe or not and by how much. These are things you can also learn through trial and error, but that’s up to the player. If crunching numbers mid fight sounds fun to you, then feel free to do so. There’s nothing wrong with playing by the frame data. All I’m saying here is that there’s nothing wrong with the opposite.

At best, we learned what was safe or unsafe and that seemed like enough. Otherwise, you had to take a risk and go for it. Will you punish that DP? Or will you overextend and get punished yourself? As much as people like more concentrated and controlled play, I like the scrambles. I like when things get a little dicey and crazy. That’s fun to me. I don’t mind the calculated footsie game before people do the big combo, but sometimes things are fun when it gets a little crazy. I don’t think that this mindset is very controversial.

To some groups, Street Fighter V was often criticized for being a game that seemed to live and die by its frame data. Some even call it Math Fighter V or Calculus Fighter V because it often felt like those who knew the frame data could always beat those who didn’t. Whether that statement is true is debatable. It was hard not to make that assumption given the game’s design and the community that seemed to honor that design. even if that community doesn’t always know how to best use the frame data.

If there is one thing about the ease of information gathering that I’ve come to find annoying is the group of people who have that information, then mishandle it. They use frame data as an absolute way to play the game, then get blown up by people who play with their hearts. They get salty, call the other player a scrub, then rant about how people don’t lab. They live under the assumption that everyone knows this frame data and respects it. I’m here to tell you that is far from true. I know when I’m minus. I know when I’m going to get blown up if I press a button. I’m still going to wake up with something dumb because I’m someone who plays by heart. If you take nothing else from this wish of a simpler time, then take this. Knowing the frame data doesn’t make you a pro. It doesn’t guarantee the win. It doesn’t make you more skillful. It’s a tool. A tool that is being exploited for far too long and praised more than it should be. I’m not going to act like frame data hasn’t helped fighting games over the years. Knowing when you can punish unsafe moves or when you can push the offensive is important. But for my money, I’m not doing math in the middle of a match. I’m pressing buttons because respecting plus frames is for cowards.

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