Would you pay to be better at games?

It's easy to be envious of players with a greater skill level than oneself, particularly online. Envious in that way that can only be expressedby the twisting of controllers and the screaming at of TVs. But how far would you go to get better than those guys? Would you actually pay? Because some of the world's top Super Street Fighter IVplayers are nowofferingyou the opportunity of online tuition at an hourly rate.

Justin Wong, Mike Ross, Martin Phan, Ryan Gutierrez. Four people you ordinarily would not want to go up against online. Regular faces at high profile fighting game tournaments the world over, these guys, not to put to fine a point on it, will stuff you at Street Fighter. Repeatedly. The stuffings will not stop. But now that they're offering their sevices as instructors, you can pay for that stuffing while hopefully getting better along the way.

Gutierrez and Phan come in at $40 an hour, Ross is charging $45, and an hour under the instruction of Justin Wong will cost you $50. In the world of Street Fighter, there are far worse people you could learn from, but would you fork out that sort of cash? And how important is it to you to be good at competetive games anyway? I play a lot of Street Fighter, and for me half the fun is definitely in the continual improvement that comes from learning new tricks, skills and nuances through repeated play with similarly skilled (or better) friends.

But personally I prefer the more organic evolution that comes from learning a person's game, them learning yours, and the constant procession of counters, counter-counters, and counter-counter-counters that comes out of that.As well asreverse-engineering and learning to master all of those random and accidental 'OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLWASTHATANDHOWDIDYOUDOIT!?' moments along the way. I'm not sure if formal instruction would feel like a step too far from fun, and a bit too close to work.

Above: Wong (Rufus) and Ross (Eddie Honda) go at it at the US SFIV nationals

But like I said, if you took any of these guys up onhis offer, you'd certainly be learning from one of the biggest names in the game. And after all, people pay for driving lessons,or for someone to teach them to play the piano, so is Super Street FighterIV really any different?

Or do you think you could learn just as much from Youtube videos and practice as you could from a one hour tutorial session, however big the name? Let me know what you think.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.