Button Mashing

The debate of button mashing. Is it okay to button mash to win? Does it depend on who your playing with and the experience level? Is it a cheat, or an advantage given to the disadvantaged?

A specific and recent example I can give is when I was with a group of friends playing Tekken, a popular fighting game of Sonys. So this is a combat game where you essentially beat each other up until one of you gets knocked out or the timer runs out. There are three ways of playing this game, that not many people are consciously aware of. The first is learning all the characters combos and strategically beating your  opponent. The second is getting a fair idea of what buttons do what, and then hitting them sort-of randomly to defeat your opponent so in other terms ‘button mashing’. The third is doing a mixture of both.

I know iv’e heard a thousand times when playing games like this, and i’m sure you would have once heard “that’s not fair, you’re just button mashing.” So of course while i’m watching a couple of my friends play, that argument comes up. Somebody will be playing strategically, and the other just pressing buttons- and winning. So somebody accuses the other of button mashing, as if it was breaking the rules that weren’t even specially established by the game itself.  Although thinking about it, this is a ‘untold’ game rule to some people. When playing multiplayer fighting games there is a bit of controversy as to whether it is okay to just button mash to win, or if both players need to have an understanding of the game and both play strategically.

So in turn the argument was that the other player shouldn’t be button mashing. Was this right? Well, in my opinion, how could it be? It wasn’t a rule or even an understanding that was established before the game was started.  This entire debate I hear so often could be so easily avoided by the players at the start by simply stating ‘no button mashing,’ but is that fair on the players to have to do that?

That brings me to my next point, how could the design of the game be changed in order to avoid this situation? There’s a slight problem I’ve always found with these types of fighting games. They are not user friendly enough for casual or new players. There is a huge information brick wall that they have to overcome before they can really get into the features of the game. Having to learn dozens of combos for each character just to get their heads around basic strategy. They can play without that, but it gets boring after a while and in doing so when playing multiplayer with someone who knows the combos and the other doesn’t, its like they are playing two separate games.

Those games themselves do have practice rooms where you can try out all the moves by viewing rows of text, but in games with this complexity i’d argue if that’s enough. The games themselves need to change in order for the moves to be easily picked up or change the amount of information your presenting to the players so your not overwhelming them.

I think the design of the game could be changed to encourage players to avoid this situation. In a game, should there be an instance where one player can be way more advantaged than the other? It wouldn’t make the game very fair and eventually boring. So a way to change that is to make new players more aware of the combs. I don’t see this enough in fighting games.


2 thoughts on “Button Mashing

  1. Having the ability to button mash is important. You have to have those first order optimal strategies or else games like tekken would be less accessible for a majority of audiences, and you’d not be able to play with those who don’t know the game, without first providing them with a lot of information


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