Iron Galaxy Studios
Meet the Stream Monster: How Divekick turned community trolls into an actual in-game character
It can be hard to track down a working definition for the term “stream monster” as an outside in the fighting game community. It’s my understanding that it could be used as a general term for anyone who watches streams of competitive play while commenting, but the use of the term as a pejorative is for people who hang out in the stream’s chat and say terrible things.
“The term 'Stream Monster,' as far as I know, was coined by Arturo Sanchez to describe players who aren’t good enough to compete in tournaments, and instead just troll/talk shit in the livestream chat,” this article stated. “Think of them as the most extreme vocal minority doing whatever they please under the protection of the anonymity of the internet. The result is a hateful bunch of no-name scrubs acting like they own the place.”
The designers of Divekick, the two button fighting game that pokes fun at the fighting game community, decided to make Stream Monster one of the characters in their game. The result is spectacular.
Divekick was created by people with deep ties in the fighting game communities, and everything, including the dialog, character design, and names of the fighters themselves, tends to be an inside joke that only hardcore fighting game fans will understand.
Take S. Kill, the game’s final boss. He’s based on Seth Killian, longtime fighting game personality, former advisor at Capcom, and producer at Sony Santa Monica. The character holds his hands in a particularly goofy way, and wiggles his fingers. I bumped into Killian at a recent Sony event, and asked about the odd character design.
“That’s how I play Street Fighter,” Killian told me, and then showed me, placing one wrist on top of the other. This is something you know if you spend a lot of time in the fighting game community, but will make little sense to casual fans.
The idea of a character called Stream Monster is likewise something that many will take for granted, but is actually a funny jab at those who watch competitive play. Stream Monster’s dialog is likewise a series of exceedingly obscure references to well-known behaviors and situations of the fighting game community.
Adam Heart, the game’s creator, was nice enough to explain what some of this meant.
We know that “YOLO” stands for “You only live once,” but it has an extra layer of meaning in the fighting game community. “It rose to ‘popularity’ when UMvC3 players would take actions, such as Dr. Doom's S Divekick after an airdash, that were extremely unsafe,” Heart explained. The Stream Monster also says “Great tournament, great experience,” a reference to a live-stream that had technical difficulties, leading to those four words being repeated over and over.
The Stream Monster also says “Shout outs to shout outs” when selected, making fun of the shout outs that take place on livestreams. The video embedded includes a “shoutout to Teamspooky” in the about section. When Stream Monster activates Kickfactor, he sometimes says “Snitchsonic.”
“This is a very obscure reference to a guy who was accused of snitching someone out and getting them to quit fighting games, when no such thing happened,” Heart explained.
Stream Monster also says “metagame,” just because it’s a pet peeve of Heart’s. “Too many people misuse the word metagame and it drives me nuts,” he explained. The dialog about only suckers working 9 to 5? That’s a reference to a man named Triforce from the fighting game documentary King of Chinatown.
I've been lucky enough to play Divekick extensively at industry events and even a local tournament in a Cincinnati arcade, and while I loved the game, most of these references go right over my head. You don't need to understand these references or inside jokes to enjoy the game, but hardcore fighting game fans are going to have fun trying to pick out all the references to the culture of competitive fighting games, and the real, and virtual, characters that give it so much flavor.
It's refreshing to see a game's jokes and character be so laser-focused on a scene as insular as the fighting game community, especially as so many games are struggling to reach the widest possible audience, which often leads to watered-down jokes and design. This is a game that anyone can play, but will reward a deep knowledge of the shared history of those who love fighting games.