Now you don’t have to hit the streets to become a better street fighter.
Japan is always concerned about maximizing academic performance and knowledge acquisition, and so many people in the country are employed as tutors, called katei kyoshi (“home educators”) in Japanese. Katei kyoshi are often called upon to provide their services in helping struggling students better understand subjects such as mathematics or foreign languages, but the Japanese Internet is now buzzing about one company’s new plan to dispatch instructors to customers’ homes to help them become better at video games.
Youdeal, a Tokyo-based company that offers a variety of Internet video and video game production and PR services, recently announced its new GameLesson venture. Just like the name says, GameLesson provides customers with individualized, one-on-one instruction in how to play popular video games. In its initial phase, the program will offer lessons for Capcom’s Street Fighter V, Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and Splatoon, and Cygame’s digital collectible card game Shadowverse.
Among the instructors will be professional gamers such as Street Fighter V player Haitani and Smash Brothers specialist Abadango.
▼ As proof of Haitani’s credentials, here’s a video of him handily defeating Daigo Umehara, considered one of the top Street Fighter players in the world, in back-to-back matches.
Prices vary by instructor, but are expected to start at 4,500 yen (US$39) for a one-hour online lesson. Alternatively, students in the 23 central wards of Tokyo or the Osaka city limits can opt for a two-hour in-home, in-person lesson, for which rates start at 11,000 yen.
On the surface, the idea of paying someone to educate you in the ways of video games seems laughably absurd, especially when a lesson costs enough that you could instead use the money to buy another game to play. However, while GameLesson is promoting its service with the slogan “Learn from the player you admire,” the organization itself doesn’t refer to its staff as “katei kyoshi” in any of the promotional materials or statements released thus far.
So instead, perhaps it’d be more accurate to think of GameLesson’s instructors not as “tutors” or “teachers,” but as “coaches.” All four games the company is offering instruction in are primarily plaid for their competitive modes that allow gamers to compete with other humans, as opposed to computer-controlled foes. In the case of Street Fighter V, the game is the current culmination of roughly a dozen games (depending on how you slice the series’ various sequels and spinoffs) released over a span of 30 years. That’s an intimidating barrier of entry for newcomers who want to enjoy some virtual fist-to-fist combat, but are likely to run into veterans with decades-long head starts on the game’s complexities.
Yes, most games released these days include tutorial modes, and a quick Google search will bring up a staggering number of fan-made FAQs and videos that provide additional information. Yet when trying to learn a new skill set, there’s really no substitute for personalized lessons from a human teacher who you can communicate with to better focus on your specific goals.
Of course, all that sounds awfully dramatic for playing some video games, right? After all, even if they’re being taught by professional gamers, it’ not like GameLesson’s customers are all going to turn pro themselves.
But then again, couldn’t you say the same thing about tennis or golf? Amateur enthusiasts have been paying for lessons for those for generations, often with no aspirations greater than enhancing their personal enjoyment of the sports through more skillful and competitive, yet nowhere near professional-level, play.
By focusing on player-versus-player competitive video games, which have a number of parallels to sports, GameLesson is ostensibly trying to satisfy a similar demand. So while the company’s service is definitely a luxury with premium pricing to match, it just might be what some gamers, particularly older, affluent ones who can afford to spend money but not the time to teach themselves the finer points of gameplay, are looking for.