PPR @ Hal-Con - Ralston Arcade

e all love fighting games here at PPR. Whether we're trouncing around in the giant robots of Tech Romancer, wailing on opponents with a hefty stick in Soul Calibur or Shinku-Hadokening our way to victory in Street Fighter, one thing stands perfectly clear; at PPR, Fight is Might.

In Halifax, there are also other groups with very much the same philosiphy, and they have grown considerably in the last few years. At the core of it all is Ralston Arcade. Ralston Arcade is one of Atlantic Canada's premier fighting game streaming organizations, spanning four provinces and covering numerous tournaments, complete with live streaming.

At the head of this group is Micheal Daniels, and Press Pause Radio had a chance to catch up with him for a Q&A on Ralston's origins and future. 

Ser- Thanks for taking some time out to speak with us about Ralston Arcade! Could you tell us just what Ralston Arcade is all About?

Mike- Ralston Arcade is one of the premier streaming outfits for the Maritime fighting game community. We stream a lot of Maritime fighting game community events, whether it be tournaments or gatherings, whatever it may be. We also do a lot of torurnament organizing and [try to grow the community.] So introducing everybody here at Hal-Con to the love of fighting games and how much fun they can be and if they are interested in getting involved with the community, whether it be coming out to tournaments or weekly events, then we have all the information on hand to let them know where they can show up and start training and start levelling up their game so that they can win those tournaments and become a part of the community.

Ser- What made you strive to become so ingrained in the Maritime fighting game community to begin with? 

Mike- It started out very small, just like most projects do. Me and my friends getting together at my place, enjoying fighting games, playing the newest ones and trying to beat each other up in them. Once we started getting serious about it, we started watching streams [from] the US, streams like Team Spooky, Level Up, I Play Winner and said, “hey, maybe that's something we can do in our community here in the Maritimes.”

So we started reaching out to the local communities here, whether it be Street Fighter Mondays at The Last Game Store, the Halifax BlazBlue Association which is actually here helping us this weekend as well and then we just started growing the community from there.

This stream has done a really good job of bringing the maritime community together, whether it be from St. John, New Brunswick, St. John's Newfoundland Charlottetown, P.E.I. or Halifax, Nova Scotia, we all get together now for tournaments, events and we have a Martitime circuit where we have a couple stops in Halifax, a couple stops in St. John and one in P.E.I., so not everybody has to travel every time to every event. We're kind of sharing the load, so to speak, and this stream has done a very good job of bringing everybody together [via] watching the archives or watching it live in case you don't get a chance to go to one of the events.

Ser- What are some of the challenges in growing from a small organization to one that spans thousands of kilometers to appease their fans?

Mike- Well, I always like to say, “Growth is the best problem to have.” We've been growing really well in the last couple of years, so obviously the venues that we have to rent have to get bigger, you have to make sure you can afford to rent out those venues. Another thing is, oviously, we do a lot of live streaming, so having internet at the venue [that's good enough to stream] is always something you have to look out for. Growth just means more volunteers, more people helping out with the events and making sure that we can run it as smoothly as possible. I always like to say, “Growth is the best problem to have.”; I definitely think that increasing our numbers is a better problem to have than if your numbers are decreasing.

Ser- When it comes down to the games you guys play, are there fan favorites? Are there any that you wish would have more exposure?

Mike- We try to accommodate every community as much as possible as long as there's enough people [coming out] for the games. Obviously, the big ones in our area are Super Street Fighter IV Acrade Edition 2012. Street Fighter is the most popular fighting game in the world and it's just the same here in the Maritimes.

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is another favourite. It brings the Hype, really crazy and flashy to watch. Everybody loves watching it. And then, we have a Tekken community here as well, we have an anime community that's very strongly represented here at Hal-Con with the new BlazBlue and Persona games out. We try to accommodate these communities as possible, so just because you're into one certain fighting game doesn't mean you can't come out to an event and enjoy your specific type of fighting game and watch other people play their favourite ones. So whether you're a Capcom fan or an amine fan, a Tekken fan and even a Nether Realms fan – Injustice and Mortal Kombat has a place in our scene as well – we have just about as much for everyone as we can possible manage.

Ser- Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?

Mike- I get this question a lot. I personally work on bringing all of the competitive communities together, so I think the next big step for us is combining the communities. While there are rifts between eSports and fighting game community in the US, I work very hard of bringing all of the competitive scenes together. We recently ran Fredericton [New Brunswick] Gaming Expo there in the summer, did very well, had over five hundred people through the door and we had Star Craft 2, League of Legends, DOTA, fighting games, Smash [Bros. Brawl] all under one roof and it was very successful.

We also ran Frag for Cancer a couple of weeks ago, a big fundraiser for Cancer [research] and it was a similar thing, we had eSports titles, we had fighting game titles, We had Smash Bros., we had just about everything under one roof and that's where I really feel like the future of competitive gaming and eSports is headed, is having all of these games under one roof. It's the thing where at Fredericton Gaming Expo or Frag, you may not be into fighting games or maybe you're not into DOTA, but you can appreciate the people playing those games and see the skill level and sit down and watch.

We had tons of Star Craft people come over to us at fighting games for Fredericton Gaming Expo and say, “Hey man, I didn't know this kind of scene existed.” They sat down, watched some Street Fighter for a while and they got Hype. That's what I personally want to happen in the future, is everybody getting Hype about all of the competitive gaming out there. Like I said [before], I'll watch anything, man, I'll watch Street fighter, I'll watch Star Craft, I watch DOTA, I was like-- I always make the joke, if people wanted to throw down at Competitive Minesweeper, I'd probably watch that too!

So, I think that's where the future is headed and that's what I'm working on, to make happen. 



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