10:30-10:55: When Worlds Collide: The Crossroads of Pro Wrestling and Fighting Video Games

Argyrios Emmanouloudis is the Coordinator of the Games Art & Animation Department at SAE Amsterdam and has completed his PhD on Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. He has also worked as a pro wrestling journalist and interviewer, and he has co-authored with Joyce Goggin the chapter “The Pro Wrestling Audience as Imagined Community: Reflecting on WWE’s Audience as a ‘Fan-Generated Narrative’ Body” in Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling, and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle.

Pro wrestling and fighting video games have much in common. Both are aspects of popular culture that give the sense to the audience of participating in simulated fights. The players control the fighting bodies in video games –participating in a simulated fight, while the wrestling spectators, with their actions and behaviour, get the feeling that they are participating in a simulated fight as well (Goggin and Emmanouloudis 2019). 

In addition, both borrow elements from each other. Fighting game competitions are modeled after pro wrestling fights, with players using pro wrestling nicknames and often competing inside a makeshift ring. At the same time, multiple pro wrestlers employ video game terminology for their moves and on-screen characters. In this presentation, I will look at two cases: one focuses on how the pro wrestling world “invades” fighting video games, while the other shows how the fighting video game realm affects the pro wrestling scene. I will investigate the crossroads of these two popular forms of entertainment, showing the ways they both inform each other and how fans of each entertainment form can, even subconsciously, understand and access content of either. This leads to a “universal” discourse that permeates the genre of simulated fights, whether digital (fighting games) or physical (pro wrestling).

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