Analysis: Taunting and Mind Games
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Analysis: Taunting and Mind Games

September 7, 2019


This is called Teabagging, and it’s a way to disrespect your opponent when they’re down or stunned Though you kind of have to use your imagination in Street Fighter because it doesn’t look as convincing as it does in First Person Shooters. On his journey to winning Capcom Cup 2016 and bringing home $230,000 NuckleDu teabagged his opponents in game during crucial matches to get in their heads and compromise their gameplay. Commentator 1 – “Boom! Stun!”
Commentator 2 – “I, We are seeing- Oh my God!” Commentator 2 – “NuckleDu!” In fighting sports you see taunting all the time, and some of the greatest fighters have used it to throw off their opponent’s mental game. It’s no different in fighting games, but as you’d expect people react to it in different ways. Some will laugh it off, Some will taunt back, And of course, some will get pissed off. Taunting has such a powerful effect on people that the Killer Instinct World Cup considered banning teabagging because an incident escalated to death threats on Facebook. Of course this caused a debate in the FGC (fighting game community) about the lack of E-Sportsmanship But what I found was interesting about this whole thing was the inherent power of pressing down a bunch of times A stunned opponent is usually an opportunity to build meter by whiffing attacks But more and more players seem to prefer doing some mental damage here instead Arguments in favor of taunting usually involve how they’re an integral part of mind games. But to know what that means, it helps to know how mind games work. Two major components of mind games are conditioning and emotional influence Conditioning is when you make your opponent behave in a certain way so that later you can bait them into doing something, Commentator 1 – “And the Counter Breaker! It’s huge!”
Commentator 2 – “Wow, great call!” or scare them into doing nothing Commentator 1 – “From Phenom at just the right time, here we go, command throw!” Commentator 1 – “Another command throw!”
Commentator 2 – “Ohh, I feel like this is, Commentator 1 – “ANOTHER command throw!”
Commentator 2 – “something Phenom loves to do!” Commentator 2 – “The fourth one, you never know-
Commentator 1 – “YES THERE IT IS, THE FOURTH ONE!” In psychology, the 2 major types of conditioning are classical conditioning and operant conditioning Classical conditioning is when a stimulus is able to trigger our reflexes like when Pavlov’s dog learned to salivate just by hearing a bell. Or when a child cries at the sound of her father putting ice cubes in a glass. Operant conditioning is when we use rewards and punishment to control someone’s decision making Which is awesome for competitive gaming In the 1930’s psychologist B. F. Skinner showed that he can control the voluntary behavior of rats and pigeons with an invention he made called the Skinner Box If a pigeon produced a desired behavior like pecking a red disk, it would be rewarded with food which would increase the chance of repeat behavior. This is called reinforcement If the test subject failed to do something, it might receive an electrical shock which would obviously decrease the chance of repeat behavior This is simply called punishment Operant conditioning is so effective, it’s actually been used to train pigeons how to recognize signs, play ping-pong, and distinguish impressionist paintings from cubist paintings, I kid you not. We can see this learning process when people use special moves in a fighting game For example, Nash’s EX Moonsault. If the moves hits your opponent, you are likely to use it again If the move gets punished or is not very effective, you’ll be less likely to use it This simple fact of conditioning is why people spam moves, if it works and you don’t know how to stop it, expect to see the move again and again But as frustrating as this is, there’s nothing more gratifying than finding a counter in training mode and punishing that spammer in a real match Commentator – “-and he wanted to get close! The parry! The parry!” So this is how conditioning works, but how can you use it on your opponent and make them your pigeon? Luckily, pro gamer Xian imparted some excellent advice on Twitter for grapplers regarding conditioning Beginner Zangief players are often tempted to use their most powerful move, the Spinning Piledriver, as soon as they get close to their opponent The problem is that your opponent might avoid it by jumping straight up, also known as a neutral jump This makes your move completely miss and leave you wide open for a devastating combo that’ll do about 300 damage to you or more If you land the Spinning Piledriver, you will only do about 200 damage to them. As you can see, this is not in Zangief’s favor So how do you get your opponent to stop neutral jumping when you get close? One way is to simply punish them for doing it. When you get in close, instead of going for the Spinning Piledriver, try something else, like the safer but less damaging normal grab. There’s no spinning involved but you still get to bury your knee in their colon so, not a bad option. But more importantly the normal grab lets you recover much quicker if you miss That means if your opponent neutral jumps to avoid it, you’ll be able to punish them on their way down with a lariat, elbow, credit card swipe, or whatever Do this enough times and they’ll be conditioned to stop neutral jumping and go for the safer option, back jumping Now the next time you go for the Spinning Piledriver up close, they’ll likely back jump instead of neutral jump, making them unable to harm you Getting your opponent to back jump to escape is an integral part of the grappler archetype And many of them have moves designed to catch people doing just that Commentator 1 – “Give him another hand!”
Commentator 2 – “OOOOOOOOooooooohhhhhh!!” Commentator 2 – “Alex Valle! Grabbing him! With the Ultra 2!”
Commentator 1 – “Oh! My- One of the defining characteristics of a character’s playstyle is what kind of emotion they can make the opponent feel, and that’s because emotions can affect your decision making in different ways You might have guessed it, but the grappler archetype is designed to incite fear Fear makes you less likely to take risks, which explains why a good grappler will make you want to scramble and escape But what’s interesting is that the same study that showed how fear makes you take less risks showed that anger had the opposite effect Anger actually resembled happiness and optimism in that it made you more likely to take risks Angry people have even been found to be less worried about terrorist attacks, and more optimistic about marrying someone wealthy Just like when you do bold thing when you’re feeling yourself, anger has a similar effect This explains why being angry can sometimes help you win Commentator – “Rare footage of Daigo actually angry.” But you can probably see why getting angry is not a sustainable strategy, especially if that’s what your opponent wants you to do Just like how there are characters designed to induce fear, there are ones that are designed to purposefully anger and frustrate your opponent causing them to take more risks The classic example would be Guile or any zoner. The goal here traditionally is to keep your opponent away from you as much as possible until they get frustrated and start to do risky advances like jumping at you or pushing forward recklessly When you’ve successfully killed their patience, you can make them literally run into your punches Commentator 1 – “He escaped the situation. Oh my God! Ohhh noooo!”
Commentator 2 – “Oh… OHHHH HE TOOK IT!” Commentator 2 – “NuckleDu! With the triple fierce!” And this is why I think NuckleDu is such a strong player, his 2 main characters are Guile and R. Mika, a zoner and a grappler On the surface, it seems like his multi-character arsenal is to cover up bad character match ups But having characters that provoke radically different emotions is invaluable for the player match up He demonstrated this at Capcom Cup 2016, when he used Guile on MOV, and Mika on Ricki Ortiz Both who specialize in the same character; Chun-Li Fear and anger are just 2 examples of basic emotions, but where it gets interesting is when you think about how many complex emotions there are and how they all affect our decision making in different ways. How do we feel when we are playing desperate, outnumbered, or depressed Commentator 1 – “…that I can think of for… yeah, he’s… Commentator 1 – “Oh, Plup.”
Commentator 2 – “Not like this.” Or how about when we are feeling humiliated? Commentator 1 – “This man is disrespecting you! Ohhh!”
Commentator 2 – “Definitely.” Commentator 1 – “And he’s… Stop it, please!”
Commentator 2 – “Stop!” Commentator 1 – “Balls is touching the, is touching the grid right now.”
Commentator 2 – “I believe- ” Commentator 1 – “Ohhhhhhh!”
Commentator 2 – “Woooooooow.” Taunting evokes a cocktail of different emotions, but humiliation is one of its main ingredients Like zoners and grapplers there ‘s actually an archetype for humiliation. The joke character. Designed to be silly and low tier, one of the joke character’s strengths is the ability to put the burden of winning on your opponent, even if they’re the underdog Commentator 1 – “Now he has the crowd behind him.”
Commentator 2 – “Now he has the crowd on his side.” But the joke character is just a joke, right? Psychiatrist Neel Burton has described humiliation as, ‘assert(ing) power over (someone) by denying and destroying (their) status claims.’ Ohaifrancy – “What was going through your head during your match with MikeandIke?” A4 Punk, “I mean, I knew I was gonna win I just… he, he like to talk a lot of trash about me and I got to put the kids in they place.” Ohaifrancy, “But what is your opinion on teabagging in fighting games?” A4 Punk, “I mean, I don’t know, I don’t think there anything wrong with it, but you know I had to teabag him, I gotta show him who’s the alpha. Some people are surprised to hear that teabagging could bother anyone when they’re already playing a murder simulator. It’s actually not that surprising when you consider the fact that teabagging isn’t even allowed in activities where actual killing is common and expected I’m of course talking about war. The founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant, created a humanitarian moral code for warfare known as Geneva Conventions, which has been agreed upon by 196 nations. These essentially became the rules of war, which prohibit things like torture, and pretending to surrender But one line that’s repeatedly mentioned prohibits ‘Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating or degrading treatment.’ Maybe war has gotten too ESports, but it shows there’s worldwide acknowledgement that even when we’re killing each other, we must protect each other’s dignity A study in 1973 has famously shown that people cited public speaking as a common fear more often than death The fear of humiliation is real, and the reason why taunting is so effective, is because you can simultaneously put that fear into your opponent and use it as a punishment NuckleDu completely stopped doing reversal flash kicks in mix-up situations for the rest of the set. If you look at the culture of fighting games or fighting sports, the building of status and the destruction of is everywhere to be seen. You see it in pre-match trash talk, Mike Tyson – “I’m the best ever, I’m the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there has ever been.” Post game win quotes, and of course, during the match as well. It seems like a complete disregard for sportsmanship, but there are some unwritten rules Attacks on status are tolerated and even encouraged as long as they don’t target someone of far lesser skill, and as long as the disrespect pertains to each other’s skill in the game. Part of being a fighter is how well you can respond to attacks on your confidence, which is why we admire the mental composure of people like Bruce Lee, or Momochi Marn – “Who?”
Mike Ross – “Momochi.”
Marn – “Who?” When people are tested we can see their true personalities, and the personalities are arguably what keep us coming back to watch these games As long as we can still shake hands, cancel into fist-bump, and say good game I think we’ll be fine Let me know in the comments how you feel about taunting. This was Gerald from Core-A -Gaming, thanks for watching and if you would like to support these videos click the link to our Patreon. Either way the videos will stay free forever THIS IS FREE!

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  1. What I love about your videos is that you're so damn objective, reasonable and informative. You explain why taunting is valuable in the context of competition but also on why it is despised and you let the audience form a consensus through discussion rather than argumentation. U da man.

  2. I think taunting is immature, but I think there's definitely a line between taunting with good intentions versus taunting to be a toxic dick. The former is fine, the latter is not. I don't like taunting in either case, but I can accept and even find a little amusement in the former.

  3. But smash ultimate doesn't let us taunt in online, even though every character has three built in taunts! We could have our beautiful taunt animations, but noooo, instead everybody has to teabag or use some alternative.

  4. I think as long as it’s all in fun and in the spirit of the competition taunting is okay. I agree that as long as it’s taken as part of the game and there aren’t any truly hurtful things said or done it’s okay to play mind games. But it’s also important to remember it’s just a game.

  5. I had my ULTIMATE humiliation in a game called RUST. Long story short, I drove the server bully into a fit of rage. He was screaming at the top of his longs in VC. He then rage quit the server. Was amazing. I got into his head. He was trying to be my friend after. Sorry dude, too fuckin' late. gtfo

  6. This entire part may just be the reason why i wont get into fighting games. Im too much of a wuss

  7. doood, love your channel man! magnificent analytics with historical facts and quotes to backup your points, and tons of cool references and easter eggs in the mix to make the whole watching experience just a whole lotta fun. awesome stuff man! respect.

  8. I know this is an old video, but you misrepresented Skinner's research in operant conditioning. Yes, reward and punishment were explored, but the actual outcome showed that punishment is far from the best form of punishment.

  9. Watching your series has shown me that fighting games kinda suck. A lot of effort is put into their design to make them unfun.

  10. I liked taunting in Budokai. It was an actual mechanic that lowered the enemy's ki.. and also they were hilarious.

  11. While I'm not one to taunt, it doesn't bother me one bit. The way I see it, it's just part of the fun.

  12. I generally taunt infrequently in fighters. Taunt spamming can come across as super-douchy, and also dilutes its significance. But sometimes the match needs some expression and attitude — or I'm riding high after pulling off a few sweet reads/executions — and it just feels right. I actually really appreciate taunting when it's done sparingly, not spammed and watered down.

  13. I think T-Bagging is the true Scrub killer. Cause taunting someone with far lesser skill kills their confidence and enjoyment. Also even if your a pro, T-bagging still sucks. You can condition your opponent using Punishes and fake outs. T-Bagging should be banned. It ignores basic sportsmanship, I feel that people who T-Bag are not confident with there own skill or are sadist.

  14. 1:50 Or completely devastatingly BS and hatred inducing in corrupt marriages turning into Divorce!…. Especially the "gaslighting"

  15. That teabag shit triggers me….I taunt back and get revenge. Anger tends to make me focus more strangely enough….. im better in fighting games than shooters getting revenge over a teabag but FPS i get sweet revenge with C4 and shotgun lol Anyway great breakdown video. you were spot on

  16. So you are basically saying that there's no moral code in fighting games, and there shouldn't be any? I mean, you liked the tweet saying that banning tea bagging removes a huge "human part", does it mean that you think that it shouldn't be banned?
    Because I believe that even if some people thought that we should have some sort of moral code in wars, where we kill literally other people, there should be some sort of moral code in any sport
    It's kind of ironic to talk about "respect" in wars because y know, it's people killing people, but if there's even some sort of respect in wars (even if it's not always the case ofc, but in Europe it was in history) I believe there should be in sports. And because fighting in video games are basically esports, there should be some sort of respect, especially if you are not even really killing your opponent.
    There's also not any way to show respect. In martial arts, fighters show respect because you had the courage to fight in the first place, no matter if you were weaker or not.
    And I say that when I'm conditioned to taunting. I don't get triggered but I show my emotions at the end of the game, when my emotions will not interfere with the pace of my game, but if I have the choice to show respect or to disrespect, I will show respect, not only because I would prefer my opponent to do the same, but also because fights seem more real to me. You are not dragging your opponent into some cheap psychologic trick. I believe that's a big reason why there are not so many people playing versus fighting. To be honest in all of my friends, I only know just one, and he doesn't play online but with his friends for a very long time. I also play with my own friends, never with online people, not only because of the netcode of some of the games, but also because there's no way to show respect, so nobody respect each other and to me that's a shame because I personally feel ballsy to fight a random guy over the Internet when I barely know the game and are trying to learn how to be good at vsf games. I think that's mostly why people get angry. Its not like a team game where you can just throw it on your teammates or something else, it's on you, and I don't think it's ok for a game or a sport to hurt you in a sense where you could stop playing because you don't feel good when you do play the game. Rather than losing even more dignity, it's better to just stop and get over it. Is that the whole point of vsf games? Because even in wars it's not supposed to be like that. Germany lost 2 world wars but it didn't lose its dignity as a country, neither do German people today and it's just an example, could be the same about Japan or Italy …
    Just show some respect.

    So basically, to me, vsf esport games should be inspired by martial arts, where you are fighting against someone, but you are doing it with respect. Maybe people do taunt in Judo, I didn't verify myself, but respect is the most important thing, they still bow after the fight, they congratulate their opponent for having the courage to face each other, and to me, that's what is missing to delete a lot of the salt in this whole community. I find it weird that people here say that banning tea bagging is removing a "big human part" and talking about all that mind game thing when in almost (if not all) confrontations you are just trying to show who got the best skill, not who will get triggered first. In all video games, you can trick people into doing what you want by teasing them, doing a ballsy move then get them in your trap. You talk about that in your video when you mentioned Guile. THAT is part of the mind game. So if there's still that, I don't believe tea bagging is necessary to get "more" mind game neither do I think that banning tea bagging is removing some necessary aspect of the game.
    Also, to me using proper taunts made available by the game is acceptable, as most of the time those are punishable because you can't cancel the animation. So you can't taunt your opponent while not facing the risk to get punished for that, or you can choose to taunt when the enemy is dizzy, removing the risk of being punished by also sacrificing a hit you could have done, showing even more disrespect, it's like saying that you didn't even need that combo to get him. When you think about it, there's even more mind game this way because if you want to taunt, then you'll have to think about it. Taunting will have the same effect as tea bagging but will just be not that easy to pull off, so not feel like a cheap trick for the enemy to get into your mind (because it always feels like that, we are just more or less vulnerable to that)
    So yeah, to me, tea bagging shouldn't be allowed, or at least shouldn't be a norm and being seen as acceptable. In game taunts shouldn't be banned by any game tho. The purpose is the game, but the execution is tremendously different.

  17. In game taunting is fine, trash talking is fine, elitist attitude towards newer players is disgusting.

  18. Taunting is whatever some do it some don't whatever but I have a issue with coaching being allowed in Finals in some comps.

  19. Lmao the geneva convention, nigga the united states uses that to wipe their ass foh with that shit

  20. I used to do this n dead or alive i was a ss and great player but knew theyre were great players also so i would taunt trash talk and troll them n2 getting out of theyre game plan it helped me b 1 of the best n the world even tho they had players that technically couldve beat me

  21. I don't want to be a pigeon.

    I don't usually t-bagtaunt in games, because I want to verse the gaming skills of a player, not his mental fortitude. I want to see how good of a player my opponent is, not how good of a person he is in real life. I feel like we should be allowed to be whoever we want to be, play however we want and get immersed in the game becoming the character, instead of getting reminded of real life every time. Games are a way of escaping real life after all.

    At least that's my wish.

  22. Wow dis dudes videos are really enlightening yo. Getting taunted sometimes makes me angry n want to put ppl in their place. I still wonder y we gamers put so much emotions into gaming

  23. was enjoying the content a bunch until you had to explain what conditioning is in detail, but thats just my nitpick, got a couple good laughs from the vid anyway

  24. Before i knew that t-bagging was a thing in fighting games i believed that it was a way to test the connection between my opponent and I, like, (s)he was tbagging and when my connection get good i do it in response, and then proceed to fight

  25. Honestly teabagging has to be the silliest taunt I've ever seen in a fighting game, it simply doesn't work outside of first person shooters. First time I saw it in a recorded match I was literally dumbfounded.

  26. The Geneva conventions state that "even if we're killing each other, we still ought to protect our dignity." Here's what I say about that; the Geneva conventions are more like trying to find dignity where there is none whatsoever, especially in war. So what's the point in dignified war? War is inherently undignified to begin with.

  27. Personally, I think that taunting should cause the next street fighter character's EX gauge to recharge faster. So that said character can come back from a very bad situation much more easily.

  28. Whenever I see someone engaging in video game taunting all I see is a weak person exposing their belief that this behavior is effective, because it works on them. Like puffing up your chest because of how fragile your own ego is. You weaken yourselfby training yourself through engaging in that behavior, and broadcast that weakness every time you exhibit the behavior.
    It's like how every time you think about 'the game' you lose 'the game'.

  29. my friend once made the mistake of dieing his hair purple witch eventually faded into a bright ass pink, so when ever we play garuo mark off the wolfs I always pick Rock Howard with the alternate color to give him pink hair but I recently found a way to one up that in capcom vs SNK 2 his alternate color isn't pink enough so at the start of a match I quit to the main menu, went to the character color editor and made his hair bright pink.

  30. I only teabag sometimes it's funny asf and when I lose and they tea bag I just laugh it off and accept the L although sometimes it still sucks lol it's all mental in these fighting games

  31. 5:22 I love how he doesn’t even have to show us the full clip because if you’ve played a fighter you probably of moment 37

  32. No matter what you say, I can't imagine an honored warrior, a samurai or a brave knight mocking someone for losing. It's disgusting and ridiculous of their part when someone does that, and non-virtuous/valorous.
    You can even win the match, but you lost your integrity. (PS: I don't pay any of those games, just sharing my opinion).

  33. i like how you show the reference of the youtube channels you use by straight up showing the name of the channel under the video alot of us wouldnt look it up otherwise.. rare trait in youtube these days. keep killin it mang!

  34. Generally teabagging bothers me less than people who trash talk after the match is over. Like, ok fair play to them if they try to tilt you during the match. That's part of competing. But people who keep talking trash after they won? That just reveals how ugly they are on the inside. The game is over. There is nothing more to be gained. Why be mean?

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