A Rainbow of Information

Having created polls and market research surveys in the past, one of the most exciting things for me is watching data in real time. It’s a real trip to watch percentages go up as people select their personal choices for whatever questions they’re answering. When it’s a topic that you, as the surveyor, care about, it makes that data even more thrilling.

Data is beneficial to understanding the nuances of your audience, to select the best path of forward progress with whatever project you’re doing. Data can also mislead and sometimes outright lie. It’s prone to forces outside of your control, including manipulation and bias. As a researcher, it is your job to prevent or at least minimize those forces from turning your unbiased, pristine data into a corrupt mass that teaches nothing and is useful to no one.

Even at its most distorted, though, there is one thing that data does that manipulation and bias can not touch – tell a story. If the data is doctored, the details within can alert the researcher to what is going on. If the data is clean, the story that comes out of it can lead to compelling, intuitive, and fresh insight that can lead to new ideas and innovation.

While my recent lore survey can hardly be called a game-changer as the sample size is small and by no means reflects the fighting game community as a whole, it nonetheless provides a captivating look into the interests of Street Fighter fans and proves to show a side of fighting game players who have an appreciation for the lore and background of the characters they’ve chosen. As I’ve analyzed the data over the course of five days (August 1-August 5, 2020), several interesting and important items of note surfaced, and I will go over in detail what each of these pieces of information were as this article continues.

For now, let’s start at the beginning. The primary question asked in the survey was, “Which of the following characters’ stories would you like to see expanded on in Street Fighter 6?” There was also an optional question in which respondents could detail the reasonings behind their choices. In total, there were 60 people who took the survey. Of these, 16 chose to expand on their thoughts in detail. The reasons were as varied as the characters they chose, but one thing was clear: the passion that respondents had for their characters was unquestionable.

Let’s take a look at the results:

I was hoping to get clear cut winners, enough to be able to establish a definitive top 5 or top 10 list. This did not happen, as several characters ended up tying in the amount of votes. While I do have a top 5, the idea that two characters tied for third place leaves me a little irritated. Also, the idea that there is no way I can do a top 10 for the same reason forces me to go back to the drawing board in how I can present the data.

So I will do this: I will first present the top 5 vote-getters, then I will talk briefly about the characters who didn’t make top 5, but still have strong numbers that are can not be overlooked. Lastly, I will talk about the most fascinating parts of the results of this survey, because as I found out, it’s not the ones at the top who have the most interesting stories in the data.

The Top 5

1 & 2: G and Q

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been reading my blog. In the past two years, G and Q have been the most speculated about characters, no doubt helped by Capcom staying nearly completely quiet about them. Speculation about characters is always fun, and the developers really tapped into the fanbase’s penchant for headcanon to come with the most interesting storyline they’ve come up with in the 30-odd years the franchise has been around.

G ended up running away with the poll, with 40% of respondents selecting the President of the World as one of their choices. Q came in second, gaining 31.7% of votes. The characters tied for third place didn’t come close to what these two characters did, as they were 5 votes away from Q’s total, and 10 away from G’s. If the sample size was higher, it would be closer, but not by that much, and G and Q would still be on top. The appeal of these two characters has increased awareness of Street Fighter’s story, and has allowed people like me to really look deep into figuring out what is going on, and what the developers may have planned.

While G and Q have stoked the fires of hypothesis and mystery, there are two other characters with long-standing mysteries of their own. In fact, the next two could be regarded as the most mysterious legacy characters of all.

3 & 4: Ryu and Rose

Tied at 14 votes each, Ryu and Rose come in at third and fourth place. Their stories, while more widely known, are still somewhat obscure in detail. We know Ryu to be the Eternal Wanderer, someone who battles internally with the Satsui no Hado, and is the one who seemingly takes out Bison for good in Street Fighter V’s Cinematic Story Mode… and that’s it. We know nothing about his parentage. Only Gouken knows for sure, and he’s not saying anything. Ryu seeks to find answers through his fists, answers which he knows may never come, but he searches anyway. His reasons are… well… very Ryu.

While Ryu seeks answers through fighting, Rose seeks answers through tarot cards and Soul Power. The recent announcement of Rose being a new character in Street Fighter V in Spring of 2021 means that we will be seeing more of her story, and perhaps her connections to G and Q as well. This doesn’t mean that her story shouldn’t continue in Street Fighter 6, however; if anything, her inclusion will be the beginning of a new and even deeper story, as all signs point to something big on the horizon for the game’s lore. Rose’s inclusion is necessary in every iteration of Street Fighter from here on out, and if the numbers in the survey don’t reveal that already, the fans are just fine with that.

Speaking of fan favorites, the character taking fifth place has amassed a significant following in the few years he’s been around. He may be a new character, but he could stick around for quite some time.

5: Rashid

Rashid rounds out the top five, being a favorite of 21.7% of voters. In one game, Rashid’s cheerful optimism and tearjerker story gave him some unprecedented character development at a time when Capcom was being scorned for their perceived inability to develop their characters at all. As the true protagonist of SFV, he was given the spotlight and made the story his own. While Karin had a far bigger role in dismantling Shadaloo, and Ryu was the one who ended up dealing the killing blow to Bison, Rashid kept the story grounded and comprehensible. If he wasn’t there, there would be no story at all.

This was a great selection. He deserves to have his own story in Street Fighter 6, and also earned his place as a long-standing legacy character. Let’s see Rashid of the Turbulent Wind in more games.

The Best of the Rest

While not cracking the top five, there were several other characters who ended up with 10 or more votes, proving their stories’ popularity among fans. There were a few surprises in the bunch, which I will go into in a separate section, but for now, let’s take a look at the ones who just missed out.

12 votes: Chun-Li, Juri, Laura, Menat, Zeku

The 12 spot is almost entirely made of girls, with the single exception of Zeku. I had a feeling Chun-Li and Juri would score high on this poll, and they ended up with some of the highest numbers. However, there was one huge difference between them: where Chun-Li’s numbers were consistent, Juri’s wasn’t. I’ll explain why later.

Menat wasn’t a shocker either. She has some mysteries behind her that will no doubt be revealed with Rose’s inclusion in V. Her connection with G could also play well in seeing her in future games. It also helps that has a mildly ditzy and playful personality that interacts well against Rose’s gloomy, no-nonsense temperament.

Laura and Zeku, on the other hand, were complete surprises. They ended up gaining a lot of steam late in the poll, and overtook early leaders like Lucia and Poison. Laura’s fun, bold personality and Zeku’s connections to the Strider games are certainly factors into why they scored so high. Laura’s relationship to another Street Fighter character may have also helped her, as the next section will show.

11 votes: C. Viper, Cody, Ed, Elena, Makoto, Remy, Sean

These seven characters got the next highest votes. C. Viper’s investigation of Q is a huge storyline that Capcom could expand on, and so would Ed’s leadership of Neo Shadaloo. Cody has been popular since Final Fight, and his “bored mayor” routine has proven to be a hit with fans; he obviously cares about Metro City, but he wants to get back out and actually fight bad guys. Its another good piece of lore that could flourish with the right direction.

The Street Fighter III characters are all legacy standbys. Elena, Makoto, and Sean all have very passionate fanbases. Elena and Makoto made the cut in SFIV, and while Sean hasn’t been playable since Third Strike, his inclusion in 6, along with his sister, would prove to be a very nice addition to the game’s dynamic.

Remy, however, is an outlier. While it wasn’t a complete shock to see him this high, his complete lack of presence made him the ultimate dark horse. I’ll have more to say on him later.

10 votes: Dan, Dudley, Poison, Sakura, Shadaloo Dolls

Like Rose, Dan was recently announced for Street Fighter V, and after seeing what they have planned, it’s clear Capcom knows what they’re doing with him. He’s a great choice to include and, judging by the results of the survey, he’d be both widely accepted and a pleasant addition to any iteration of Street Fighter he’s in.

Dudley, Poison, and Sakura are all very popular characters as well. It would be nice to know more about both Dudley and Poison, and it may be time for Sakura to take center stage as a main protagonist. Having all three in the same game together would make a lot of fans very happy, and would make the Street Fighter story more elaborate as well.

I intentionally put the Shadaloo Dolls together as one category since separating them would only serve to confuse people, and it’s likely that only a few of them would even get votes if they were listed by individual name. Juli, Juni, and Decapre would obviously be the most popular, but then it wouldn’t be fair to the other nine Dolls who serve just as much to the story as those three. I think I made the right call here.

The Really Fascinating Stuff

What I found more interesting than the characters that got the most votes were the characters that got the least. While every character got at least one vote by the time the survey closed, going into August 4, eight characters didn’t have a single vote to their name: Abigail, E. Honda, Guile, Hakan, Hugo, Kage, R. Mika, and Seth. Nearing the end of the day, that list was brought down to three: Hugo, Kage, and R. Mika. I’ll have more to say on this later, because one of these three, like Remy, is a huge outlier that needs to be detailed on.

For now, though, I turn to something else: survey comebacks. Three selections made impressive comebacks on the last day of voting: Juri, Abigail, and the Shadaloo Dolls. Juri was an early leader, but quickly slipped behind until the last day. She ended up with an impressive 12 votes and found herself in the top ten alongside G, Rose, and Rashid. Abigail did not crack the top ten. However, he had only one vote until the last day, when five respondents voted him as one of their choices. The Shadaloo Dolls had a similar journey, gaining several votes to end up in the top 22.

One character’s comeback, however, had an unusual rise to the top: Remy.

What made him so unique was that Remy wasn’t just an early leader: he was THE leader in votes at the beginning of the survey, before being surpassed by first Ryu, then G. That’s right: G wasn’t a frontrunner until later on. Ryu held the top spot until the second to last day. When G took over, though, he didn’t stop, and propelled to the top of the list. Q took off at the same time.

After Ryu and G took over, I wasn’t expecting Remy to catch up, but the last day changed the fortunes for a lot of people. He didn’t crack the top ten, but based on the results of this survey, he didn’t need to. The fans have shown that Remy is wanted again.

Conclusions

After doing this survey there are a few conclusions I have been able to come up with.

1) Getting people to take a survey is hard. Over 5,500 people saw my link. Of those, only 60 completed it. I’ve done surveys before, but trying to reach out to people you barely know to get them to take a survey they know nothing about is a lot harder than it would at first appear.

2) The poll was self-regulating. I wanted to put a limit of 10 choices for each person out of fear that some enterprising trolls would screw up the data. I couldn’t find a practical means of putting a limiter on, though, so I took the risk and left it to where you could pick as many as you wanted. I’m glad I did, because I got far better data out of it.

3) It’s time for Remy to come back. While he was once derided for being a bad Iori Yagami ripoff, over the years people’s opinions of him have softened to the point where he’s now an accepted part of Street Fighter lore.

4) The girls are popular. VERY popular. In fact, it might even be time for an all-girl Capcom fighter just to accommodate everyone. However, there is one person who needs to be addressed, because she was one of the biggest anomalies in the survey.

The R. Mika Emergency

If this was a Jon Bois video, this song would be playing right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSN6udD2Lw8

It’s Marrakech by Brian Bennett and Alan Hawkshaw, a song found in at least two of Jon Bois’s Chart Party videos, and one I first heard at the end of “The search for the saddest punt in the world.” It’s a fitting song for that video, as well as this final section of the article, and you’ll understand why soon.
As I stated earlier, by the time August 4 ended, three characters had zero votes: Hugo, Kage, and R. Mika. Hugo and Kage I wasn’t surprised about in the least. Hugo hadn’t made an appearance since IV, only appearing briefly in Poison’s Story Mode, and Kage was not only called an Evil Ryu expy, but he disappeared from existence in his own story! However, both Hugo and Kage can be folded easily into other people’s stories. It’s hard to picture Poison without Hugo by her side and Kage, who is Evil Ryu in a sense, is basically just another form of Ryu.

Mika, on the other hand, is far different. She is a legacy character, first appearing in Alpha 3, and beccame a popular character among both the developers and the fans. Yoshinori Ono himself wanted Mika to come back in Street Fighter IV, but he had to wait one more game before he could finally implement her. As it turned out, she remains one of the favorites among players. Her design, although polarizing at first, eventually became accepted, and now it’s hard to picture Street Fighter V without her. Her theme is an excellent remix of her Alpha 3 one, and her voice actress, Bonnie Gordon, has been praised for her energetic portrayal of Mika.

In spite of all the praise and acceptance, however, I was stunned to see that people had zero interest in her story. Remy got votes. Lucia got votes. Karin got votes. Even Seth got votes before she did. There she was. Whereas every other female character had been voted at least twice, Mika was the lone girl sitting at 0%.

It was clear there was a problem. It was obvious that her story wasn’t well-received among the fans, and to be fair, being attached to another character who didn’t receive very many votes (Zangief) wasn’t helping her cause either. I’ve researched Mika in the past, though, and I explained just how cool I thought her story was. She has an excellent narrative, being a former high school girl who went for her dreams and became a dynamic and famous pro wrestler. Her organization, Iwashigahama Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (IJWPW), has an eclectic cast of characters that would be welcome in any Capcom game, let alone any Street Fighter game. Her “Muscle Spirit” storyline in SFV is every bit as fun as she is. She even wrestles a bear!

But it wasn’t good enough. As I sat watching response after response go by without her name on even one ballot, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I loved Mika’s story. I love her as a character. There were only two things I could do after watching 42 responses go by after four days: play Marrakech and weep.

So I did. In between the tears, I thought of her story and how much the fans thought Capcom blew it. There were likely better ways to tell her story, but it wasn’t bad and it fit her character. Based on the results, they needed to fix her story to keep her a viable character for the future. 0 votes. 42 responses.

Then came 43.

On the 43rd ballot, the lone vote was Rainbow Mika.

And then another came in. And another. She ended up with three votes in all, putting her nowhere near the top, but saved from purgatory by a few bold souls who liked her story, who liked her design, who liked her. So what do I make of this? What do I think?

I’m just gonna have to punt on this one.

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