Playing ‘Street Fighter’ With the Chinese Mafia
In a dank Hong Kong gaming arcade, a pimply teenage boy challenges a stoic gangster to a hadouken-filled duel as a crowd watches in nervous silence.
Illustrations by Siah Files
It ’s a summer day in the mid-2000s and my brother and I are stalking gaming dens around the dusty, hot streets of Mongkok, a dense, crowded district of Hong Kong. I follow him, mostly, joining in on countless rounds of Street Fighter on dented arcade machines with player sticks so worn from use that they gave off a soft, gummy shine.
He always plays as “Ken.” The character sports a mop of blond hair and a red, loose-fitting keikogi. Whipped up by the game’s Capcom creators as an American-Japanese paragon of martial arts mastery, Ken’s hybrid mash-up of physical features and skillset appeals to a broad swathe of joystick junkies.
Ken possesses notoriously temperamental behavior and ADD energy, which makes him the perfect warrior. When he throws the hadouken — an icy blue punch ball that shoots from his palms — the effect isn’t as lingering as any of the other characters’ weapons on the Street Fighter roster, but the attack stuns his opponents fast, leaving the…
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