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ldmaxi talks visiting Korea and social media in the world of fighting games

The legendary Swedish player who used to live in Korea.

David with legendary S.Korean Tekken player Rain

ldmaxi talks visiting Korea and social media in the world of fighting games

Imagine a world without Twitch and hardly any YouTube footage outside of big tournaments. How would you download your opponents before actually facing them? How would you learn to play other than reading Internet forums? Here goes the story of David “ldmaxi” Vidales who lived in Korea several years ago. He was recording a lot of match footage and uploading them to his channel which was one of the most popular places in the Internet for Tekken fans. You could learn a lot, not only about the game but also about the players because the off-screen camera footage also showed them and their reactions, as well as crowd hype.

David, we have to face the facts. We are old. When was it when we were supporting the Tekken community? Around 10 years ago… time flies! Some of our readers might not have even heard about Tekken back then. Could you introduce yourself?

Haha! Yeah, it must have been something like that, it was about 8 years ago I was living in Seoul and we were working together online. My name is David, aka ldmaxi, and I’m from Stockholm, Sweden. I started playing at the beginning of TTT and immediately fell in love with the game. Like so many others I became completely obsessed and played as much as I could to push my own limits as a player.

I quickly realized how much it helped me to watch better players, so the passion for finding good videos was there from the very beginning. It was so obvious that having a teacher or a mentor was crucial for to improve and here I had access to all these amazing videos through my computer. It was like magic to me :).

Long story short, my friend Kungen helped me set up an FTP (which is kind of like a dropbox) where we could all collect and store the best Tekken videos we could find. In those days this was a vital resource for the community. You have to remember that there was no YouTube or Facebook back then. Having the FTP really helped us all to better understand the mechanics of the game and really get a feel for how its played at the highest level.

Thanks to the growth of the FTP I got in touch with a guy called DUK2000. He was a Korean administrator for Tekken Central, the main hub for the Korean Tekken community back then. He gave us access to all the crazy footage from their tournaments. Needless to say the FTP became even bigger and we were all so happy for finally opening the magic window to the Korean Tekken community.

Fast forward and YouTube had entered the picture, Green Arcade (the most competitive Tekken arcade, located in Seoul, South Korea) was actually streaming their matches online and a few individuals were uploading some of that action to YouTube. I really enjoyed watching these vids but I always felt that there was something missing, I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

It was Korea, who was missing something. It was missing you.

Haha, thanks ;). I’m really glad I got the opportunity that I did, so this is what happened… A few years later I found myself living the dream as I was packing my bags to move to the promised Tekken land. I ended up living in Seoul for two years and during that time I discovered how much I really enjoyed helping out the community in whatever way I could. One thing I did was to start a YouTube where I recorded and uploaded as much footage as I could from Green arcade.

My videos were a bit different from the others as you could hear all the background noise from the arcade and you could actually see the players and not just the gameplay. And when Aris and Rip joined as commentators, I think it was the most entertaining thing to watch as a Tekken player. This is what had been missing for me, that personal element, that feeling of actually being inside the arcade yourself, and also to get the context through the eyes of two famous western players. Huge thanks for Aris and Rip for their work, it was so fun to work with you guys ;).

The channel also helped many of the Koreans become more known globally and I’m so glad that I was able to serve in that way. It just felt so good to give something to all those people coming home from a long day’s work, a chance to just relax at the end of the day and watch some good ass Tekken ;). To be able to do that, by helping my new friends in Korea, that was priceless.

Even though crystal clear match videos are nice, I have always enjoyed off-screen matches with players’ reaction and the crowd cheering for their guy.

Yeah, we should never underestimate how important that human element is, it’s not a fight between two characters on a screen, it’s a fight between two human beings, that’s where the real drama and excitement is at!

And how fast is your lightdash, ldmaxi?

Haha, I don’t know actually, haven’t tested it for a while… I used to play Mishimas in TTT1 but never really hit that speed limit to call it a light dash, I was a pretty fast wave dasher though. Maybe I should change my nick to wdmaxi or slowmaxi to be more accurate about it.

Watch out, there is a famous Soulcalibur player called WCMaxi!

Ldmaxi: Right, I sometimes get confused for that guy actually… The LD does stand for LightDash, which is also the name of our non-profit fighting game association in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s an association I started with two other friends many, many years ago. We were doing everything we could back then to attract more people into our scene and Sweden is kinda funny like that, you can start an association like this and you’ll actually get paid for each member that signs up.

Building our community in Stockholm is one of the things I’m most happy about, because it really brought a lot of joy to so many people. No matter what you do in life, I think it’s really important to think outside the box and explore how you can leverage the opportunities that have been given to you, they’re all around if you just learn how to look for them. Don’t get disheartened if your local community seems non-existent, this could be your opportunity to do the same thing we did. Few things are as rewarding as hanging out with new players when they have all those ‘WOW’-moments while learning the game. If getting a mentor is the best you can do to improve, then being a mentor is the best you can do to have fun, I truly believe that.

Truth to be told, when you contacted me a couple of weeks ago, I was confused. First, I asked myself: “wow, David is alive?”. Then, I was not even sure if you were living in Sweden or Korea. So what are you doing nowadays?

Oh wow, so much has happened since we last spoke. When I got back from Korea I got into all sorts of stuff. Philosophy, personal development, self help, online business, marketing and so on. These days I actually help gamers become financially free through their expertise. I feel that my stay in Korea gave me so much valuable experience to do what I do today, I couldn’t be more grateful for how things have played out for me.

Coming back from a this long break, I see Tekken with fresh eyes, and I see so much untapped potential. Things that can be done to serve the community and the top players as well. These days we have social media at our fingertips and anyone can stream their games online. It’s so different from the days the FTP was the place to go. I think it’s easy to forget how fast things have progressed. The opportunities are endless these days, and I think it’s just a matter of time before players start realizing that having a sponsor is no longer the ultimate goal. You can actually become your own sponsor, sell your own products and be your own boss, on top of having a sponsor!

With that said, I would like to explore what social media can do for our continued growth, as a community and as individual players. So I have started a tribe in the form of a Facebook group called ‘Gosu Tekken’, which is growing like really fast right now. It’s a place for us to share our knowledge and experience and for top players to mentor and teach those who are dedicated and willing to invest in their growth. I wish I could share with you all the awesome stuff we are planning for the tribe, but at this stage all I can really say is that it’s gonna be very, very interesting and something that has never been done before.

Could you elaborate on how you perceive social media nowadays? Which are the most useful ones for fighting game players? What is the most efficient way for players to promote themselves?

Gladly! Okay, the short answer is that Facebook is social media on steroids and almost no one is using it to its full potential. Most players and people in general simply think in reverse so they struggle with getting noticed. They think something like this:

First you give value and then you pray and hope that someone will show up… This approach is usually very slow unless you’re already quite famous. Instead, I would first recommend you to find your audience, figure out what they want and finally give it to them.

So what does this mean in practical terms? It means that you start by understanding where Tekken fans are, I’m talking forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, discord channels, news sites such as Tekken Gamer and so on. Then you start seeing what people are asking for but few are delivering. The principles of supply and demand should not to be underestimated…

Maybe people are really interested in analyzing tournaments? Maybe people are arguing a lot about who’s the best player? Maybe everyone wants to learn how to play vs Steve?

What is considered value to all these players? When you have kind of understood what people want, but are not getting enough off… then you can start thinking how you would like to contribute, what kind of content you want to create.

Even if you’re a streamer, you can still deliver what people want by discussing the topic on your stream. You can also invite someone to your stream and talk with them about it. Kinda like a podcast while playing at the same time (can you see how this resembles the same format I used for my old videos? Great gameplay + human interaction ftw).

Generally speaking, streamers would benefit a lot by cooperating more with others, doing joint ventures and sharing their audiences amongst each other. Too many people are doing it alone, and kinda think that they’re competing against other content creators, this mindset is horrible for growth! Instead, support everyone around you, start collaborating with as many as possible, see how you can help others and really do your best to serve everyone as much as you can. If you want to promote yourself, you need to first realise that it’s not about you. It’s about your audience! So focus less on yourself and more on others, give, give, give! I think this is the most important point, streamers and YouTubers are a bit confused about what is truly valuable. It’s not the gameplay or even their personality, It’s about the total experience you get as a viewer when you follow that stream or YouTube channel. Focus on creating the best experience possible, this is your main job and what you eventually get paid for.

Twitch is the biggest platform for streaming games, no doubt, but because of how Facebook works, streaming on Facebook is becoming a better and better option by the day. Can’t really go into the details here but a group on Facebook is the absolute best way to generate an engaged audience. Nothing else comes close from what I’ve seen. IMO, if I was a content creator I would create a Facebook group where people can interact and engage with each other, get that social experience going you know, while you still position yourself as the leader of the group. You create a sort of narrative, a journey or a quest that you embark on, and your audience comes along for the ride. The group is not really about you, it’s about some sort of big vision and you are the leader to follow so you can get there as a group.

Without being too deep about it, this is what we yearn for as social creatures. A grand purpose, a connected community and a leader to show us the way. The purpose can be anything really, it could be a quest to win a major tournament or to reach a certain rank online. The vision for my group is to connect Tekken teachers with dedicated students so that everyone can improve as fast and as much as possible. It’s the very same quest I started myself after I saw those first Tekken videos online, which ultimately led me to Green arcade in Korea. Get the story right, present it in a way that makes people go “Oh… that’s interesting, I wanna tag along on that journey!” Find the big vision you’re passionate about and it will shine through, it will spread to everyone who can see it in your eyes. You can’t fake this, it really has to be there. But remember, it’s not about you getting to your goal, it’s about your audience and their experience. Streamers and content creators usually think the key is high quality content. It’s not!It’s about creating a culture where the members create something that makes them want to come back. Your mission as a leader is to create that strong sense of community where everyone is walking together in the same direction.

In the end, your audience is a reflection of you, be positive and engaged yourself and you’ll attract positive and engaged people around you, if you grow, your audience will grow too.

So to recap…

If I was a streamer or YouTuber I would do a market research and find all the places where there was already an audience, I would then make a list of everyone that is a leader of those audiences and start helping them in whatever way I could. After I understood what I could offer people, I would create my own Facebook group, get the social experience going, offer my value in my group and share it to all the other groups where I had picked up on what people wanted. And then I would just amplify this by serving others and start doing smart joint ventures with other content creators. Constantly reflect on how I could offer a better experience, how I could present my story in a more clear way and how I could help others even more. If you do this correctly you’ll see results fast, promise you!

I hope this approach and its benefits makes sense to you.

They do and it’s been a really great read! I hope it will be useful for our readers. Leaving the Internet… South Korea is Tekken’s promised land. Please tell us about the country, the arcades, the players.

Where to begin… First off, I have to say that I was extremely lucky to arrive in Seoul when I did. I came right at the beginning of T6 BR and moved back home right when TTT2 was released on arcade. This meant that I got to experience every season of Tekken Crash except the first one (a televised Tekken tournament that ran for eight seasons). It was a special time in Korea at that time, with Tekken Crash it was obvious for the Koreans that this was the turning point they had been waiting for. For the first time ever their game had become an official part of the televised E-sport scene in their country.Everyone was taking everything up a notch, there was so much determination in the air and players were starting to get sponsored for the first time ever. There was a lot of turmoil with players signing up to companies that couldn’t really deliver and so on. Things rarely go smooth in the beginning and this was definitely the beginning of a new era in Tekken history. The opportunity to have a profession through Tekken was suddenly possible and these players really wanted a piece of that dream.

I’ll speak in general terms now… Koreans are in my experience the most friendly and warm people I have ever met. I would be sitting on the subway and strangers would just approach me and start having a laugh with me, it was a very stark contrast to where I’m from, where people just mind their own business pretty much. It was like everyone had a village mentality, while living in a big city. I completely fell in love with the Korean people and their way of life, it just resonated so strongly with me somehow. If you’re ever arranging a bachelor party, I couldn’t imagine a better place to hold it in than Seoul, the nightlife is just too fun.

I was also fortunate enough to do some road trips with the top players when it was time to compete in tournaments outside the capital. It was so cool to visit all these hidden arcades that I’m sure few foreigners have ever seen, they were so hidden, not even the players themselves could find them haha! One time we were driving around for more than an hour until we finally found the arcade we were looking for. It was so hidden in some random suburb, no one could have imagined that there would be an arcade there. And when we finally entered, there were more than a hundred players going at it, it was surreal.

Another fond memory is the day JDCR invited me to go to a small arcade in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden in this shitty little arcade we found Qudans of all people. This guy never used to go to Green so this was actually the first time I met him. We instantly clicked, the guy was just very fun to talk with and very humble as well. I have a lot of respect for Qudans, not only as a player but as a person as well. We played some games and then went out to a bar, he made a call and all of a sudden Leedy showed up out of nowhere. If you’ve followed the Tekken history you know what a legend Leedy is. This was the first time i met him as well, so all of a sudden I was sitting there having laughs and chatting with JDCR, Leedy and Qudans, three of the most iconic and legendary Mishima players of all time. And to top it all off we made some prank calls to Ji3moon Ace just for shits and giggles ;). This is a very fond memory of mine, I will never forget it.

I should really write a book someday about my stay in Seoul… too much stuff happened…

Do it and sign it up for me, I am definitely buying it! From time to time we hear about Korean players who need to join the army for some time which obviously affects their careers. Are you familiar with the law behind the South Korean army conscription?

Great, my first customer. I wish I could give you a detailed answer here, but no, I don’t really know the ins and outs of it. I do know that some people don’t have to enter the army due to medical reasons, and they are the lucky ones I guess.

How, in general, Koreans liked Tekken Tag Tournament 2 when compared to Tekken 6?

This is also something I know very little about. Since I left the country right when TTT2 was released and then I “disappeared” for like six years. I’m really the wrong person to answer this I’m afraid.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Koreans’ approach to the game?

Ah yes, well, the Tekken knowledge in the Korean community is just ridiculous… But it’s not just the knowledge, it’s the mentality itself. If you ever get the chance to play in Seoul you’ll be surprised how well even the beginners are, you can go to so many arcades in the city and there will be good players. Stuff like movement, block punishment, juggling and so on is considered so basic over there I feel. And at the other end of the spectrum we have these monsters, they are the top ten players that are two steps ahead of everyone else. It’s really odd when you think about it, why there would be this huge gap between the top ten and the rest.

My own personal theory is that the main difference between the monsters and everyone else is that they work closely together with at least one other player. Having a close mentor really seems to be the most important factor if you want to reach that Godlike global competitor level. If you think about it, it makes sense, a mentor and training partner will help you with all sorts of things. They…

  • Give you something to model, something to learn from
  • Help you to avoid mistakes and find the right path for growth
  • Expose your blind spots
  • Push you out of your comfort zone
  • Give you fresh perspectives
  • Provide you with valuable resources and a bigger network
  • Hold you accountable to your progress
  • And so much more…

It forces you to take things more seriously. At the end of the day the monsters in Korea just took everything more seriously than the rest. They had short and long term goals. When they lost they really took the time to reflect and analyze what had happened, they didn’t just move on. No, they made adjustments to their theories so that they would not lose again to the same thing. When they prepared for a tournament they created specific strategies against specific opponents, they never went in half assed against anyone, they studied their opponents and created strategies against them. These players were strategy-focused, they were constantly discussing game plans and specific approaches vs specific opponents. It was as if the awareness level was completely different from the rest.

Next to these players, it was like people were kinda blind and were just hoping for the best when they played. Other players tried to do the best with what they had. The top ten tried to do better by expanding what they already knew. And while other players were focused on just getting a higher rank, the top players only had one goal in mind: To win the next tournament.

It was all about tournaments, they didn’t care much about Death Matches (ranked play), that was just a way to have some fun and try stuff out. The real competition was always in the next tournament for these players. I thought I was somewhat serious when I first arrived in Korea, but seeing actual dedicated players really turned my world upside down.

If you feel like you are playing seriously yourself, let me ask you… What is your goal for this year? Or for this month? What are you specifically trying to accomplish? How will you make sure you accomplish your goal, what will you do? Do you have a plan and how clear is it? Or are you just kinda going with the flow? Thinking you’re serious about your progress, when actually you know you’re not?

It’s this fundamental skill of setting up specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals that is so crucial. So many players just kinda half ass it, and play for fun, saying they’re serious and doing their best but in reality they lack a clear goal and a plan to get there. This kind of blind mentality can only get you so far, at some point you need to decide that you’re actually gonna do it for real and that means taking a step back and just asking yourself, what am I actually doing? What can I do differently?

This is what I got from being around the top players so closely, they were constantly re-evaluating themselves and their assumptions, constantly working on their own theory of the game and how to deal with opponents that expressed another theory of the game.

Having been around the top players so much, I could also see them for what they were, regular people just like you and me. I realised that they have regular lives with regular problems. It became very obvious that if you think like them and act like them you’ll actually get the same results. It’s all just a matter of doing things correctly and systematically for the results to start showing. Talent is simply a matter of seeing the right path and actually walking it. I dunno about you, but I find that very inspiring :).

Do you have any last words for the Tekken community?

Yeah! I just wanna say I’m so glad to be back, I’ve always felt so much at home in this community and it’s also so fun to see how much it has grown over the past years. It’s just so impressive to see how far we have come together. I also want to give a special shout out to my tribe members over at gosutekken.com, you guys are the best! And if you wanna join our tribe too, feel free to follow that link :).

Thank you for having me Jakub, I really appreciate it!

Former writer for SDTEKKEN, TekkenZaibatsu and 8WAYRUN. Used to play Tekken and Soulcalibur competitively, currently focuses on helping tournament organizers and the community in general.Works in the video game industry and has been credited in multiple titles, including Ultra Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken (PC), Mortal Kombat XL (PC) and Injustice 2. Teaches math and English. Loves pandas, red sneakers and ice cream.

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