The Dogface Show which premiered 10 years ago this month will always hold a special place in my heart. The first guests would go on to be household names such as Ryan ‘Gootecks’ Gutierrez and Mike ‘Anime Hitbox Player’ Ross. The show was a true labor of love embodying the DIY spirit of the FGC while combining it with the beauty of not knowing any better.
As in true FGC Fashion we are a little late, but I reached out to some of the people involved on that day to hear how they remembered working on one of the craziest things we had produced at the time including the elusive Dogface himself!! Before we get to him let me kick everything off.
One Sunday afternoon....
Super Bowl XLIII (43), which is always on a Sunday, was held on February 1st, 2009. I couldn’t tell you who played as that was the same day a bunch of people who loosely knew each other gathered into a ran down ‘theater’ in West Hollywood. If you had asked me what I was going to be doing that afternoon - I’m not entirely sure I could.
It’s hard to remember when I exactly met Victor ‘Dogface’ Ratliff. We had been acquaintances when he lived in Arizona playing fighting games with that community but we became friends while both living in Los Angeles. One of the best at X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Vic lights up a room unlike anyone else in the FGC. His smile and laugh are infectious but his positivity turns everyone into a better person.
He approached me as doing a sort of late night interview show. I think he mentioned David Letterman as an inspiration. At this time, Street Fighter 4 hadn’t even come out for the console. It would in February, but only arcade warriors were playing the game. Warriors such as Gootecks and Mike Ross. They were not only grinding every day but oddly enough were ambassadors. They were one of the few to actually speak highly of the game. Everyone else, including me, had dismissed it as another Capcom vs. SNK 1 or Capcom Fighting Jam.
So it made sense to have Ryan and Mike on as the first guests. Surreptitiously both of them brought skills that we didn’t know we even needed. Mike brought a ‘real’ video camera and Ryan brought ‘real’ audio equipment. Mike and his brother would do all of the lighting. Ryan would set up all the mics and check the audio levels.
Somehow my job was to bring it all together. I’m not sure why I thought I could do this as I never had before but I gave it my best. Which means I recruited more people to help out! I brought in James Chen as he had a videocamera and some editing skills. Brought in Maj to help with all the things that would fall through the cracks such as launching a website and getting the word out.
While we all gathered around that ran down theater, none of us really knew what to expect. Vic had a background in acting and brought in a sense of that world to the whole thing. He hired a guy off of craigslist to do makeup for everyone (not even sure we paid that guy?), he had another friend to do amazing artwork that would be used as props for the interview. We somehow even got a ‘real’ logo made. Vic also pushed to have the whole episode on DVD.
We did the whole thing in one take. Again, I don't think we knew any better. None of us outside of Vic knew any of the questions, how long it was going to take, or what was going to happen. Arguably the hardest part of filming the shows was not laughing out loud during the recording of them.
Most creative things that I’ve been involved with - the process gets easier as time goes on. The Dogface Show suffered the exact opposite. Every episode became harder and harder to make. I’m not sure how many total we did but I will always remember the very first one.
Ryan 'Gootecks' Gutierrez Looks Back
Who is dogface and why are we writing about him 10 years later?
Well, for those that weren't around in 2009 (congrats to those who were, btw, you're OG now), dogface was one of the pioneers of North American fighting game commentary. He and Dr. Sub-Zero were one of my biggest inspirations early on because I was fortunate enough to be involved in the production of the Family Fun Arcade Ranking Battles (or FFA Ranbats, for short) and got to hear these guys pave the way for a lot of what has become the standard in fighting games.
Back in a pre-YouTube era, Dr. Sub-Zero would handle solo commentary duties for 3rd Strike, and dogface would handle Marvel vs. Capcom 2. To this day I still don't know how he was able to basically improv for hours on end, mixing in ample amounts of lore and X-Men: the Animated Series jokes in while talking about the gameplay itself.
Eventually, I started my own podcast called The Street Fighter Podcast and I had dogface and omni on as early guests of the show. I don't remember what we talked about, but I'm sure it paved the way for conversations we'd soon be having about The Dogface Show. I don't think Mike and I had any idea what we were really in for, but it was one of the first projects we worked on together, and we brought the FGC DIY spirit to the show and helped with production.
It seemed like lunacy at the time to try and actually have a real theater to use for a talk show about fighting games. Maybe in retrospect it was, but it left a lasting impact and impression, as the show was so far ahead of its time it's not even funny! Sure I was doing a podcast about Street Fighter, but dogface wanted to make it into a late-night style show, complete with props and everything.
Vic has this unique capacity to be charming and friendly to every human on the planet and had the show continued, there's no doubt in my mind that eventually it would have grown to reach people far outside of the FGC and gaming, as you don't have to be a fighting game veteran in order to appreciate his charisma and vision.
Now it sounds like I'm writing a eulogy. But in a way I guess I am. Because unless dogface makes a comeback in some way, shape or form, then essentially the entire show will go down as an amazing moment in time, but something that didn't make it past the threshold of the modern FGC/Esports Era that we are currently in.
Last year during Bar Fights, which we ran during night 2 of Evo weekend, dogface stopped by the venue to scope it out. It was an amazing moment for me personally because (fun fact!) he was the host of the first Bar Fights that we did back in Pasadena, CA in February 2009. I wanted him to see how far things had come, but I think we all know that there's still a long ways to go.
Part of me hopes that this has all been part of dogface's master plan. He knew how to plant the seed would help me, Mike and James Chen build our own visions of the FGC in the years that have since passed. Maybe he was just waiting for us to do all the heavy lifting so that he could swoop back in when the time is right...
If only he knew how easy it was to create content in 2019 vs. 2009...and if only there were an event coming up during Evo weekend where he lives in Las Vegas that he could be a part of in someway...
Well wherever he is now, I hope he can see that, to paraphrase the old Chinese proverb...
"If there were ever a best time to be doing fighting game shows, it was 10 years ago. The second best time is right now."
Dogface Looks Back
It wasn’t until someone mentioned that console SF4 came out ten years ago, that I realized it had been ten years since DFS. When you think of it that way, it seems like a looong time ago. Punk was 9 years old!
The FGC gods were definitely smiling on the show. Imagine the talent and team involved in that first show: Gootecks and Mike Ross, Derek Daniels (Sony Santa Monica: God of War), James Chen, Majestros (combovideos.com, ever heard of the “2-Hit Combo Video?”). The money (let's call it "budget") was spent on renting the space, so everyone involved just did it out of sheer kindness and enthusiasm. The aim was a Conan O’Brien style interview show. I was never the guy who could rattle off frame data or character-specific win percentages, but I sure enjoyed a good story and laughing with fun people. I basically wanted to show what I considered the best part of the FGC: hanging out.
I couldn’t have ever pulled it off without the people I listed above (and also all of those that lent a hand when I needed it). All the episodes are in a blastproof treasure chest buried somewhere on the West Coast. But I do love that Derek shared Episode 1. This one will always hold a special place in my heart as a love letter to the FGC. Because of episodes 1, I will forever take credit for creating team “Cross Counter!”
I think all said and done we did 10 shows. By the end, the joy had been overtaken by stress, and it seemed like a good time to stop. The fact that the show was FILMED gives you an idea of what we were working with. Nowadays you have Twitch, and iPhones can be equipped with editing software, so in 2019 the show could be done a lot easier. It's astonishing to look back at how different the medium was 10 years ago.
Thank you to everyone that watched, supported, and asks if the show will ever be back. Maybe at the 20 year mark I’ll upload the rest of the shows. Which people will watch on their 2029 contact lenses as their drone-shoes carry them to work on the Amazon mothership.
But wait - in honor of this anniversary, I think you need to have a few DFS questions of your own Derek Daniels!
If you had Daigo at your house for an afternoon (imagine you’re driving him to a tourney later), and you need to kill a few hours watching Netflix with him, what show do you put on? High Score Girl is too obvious, and you’ll lose points if you say anything weird like Birdbox. But I will award you bonus points if you say Glow.
I feel like this is a trick question to see if I answer Xmen Evolution!
The obvious answer is Top Gun. We’d talk about how Ryu is Maverick and Ken is Ice Man. We would watch the volleyball scene and then put on Glow.
In all seriousness, if you had to beat Daigo in a first to ten in ANY game (your life depends on it), what game do you pick?
Didn’t Daigo claim that Tokido already beat him in the game of life? Sorry!
Not sure if you saw it but there was a video floating around a while back where Daigo was playing Street Fighter on a pad. It is one of the funniest things ever! He had no idea what he was doing!
So if I had to pick a game and my life depended on it - I'd definitely have him play pad while we played the Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter Alpha 2. I gotta have any and all advantages againt the beast himself!
Let's go back to talking about Netflix. You worked on God of War. Would you want to see that game translated to a show, and streamed on Netflix? Who plays Kratos? I imagine a show format in the vein of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules.
When I first started working on what would become the 2018 version of God of War, we often referred to that Kratos as being an athlete but it was during the off season. Someone who was once in shape and they weren't fat....but they weren't training anymore. With that being said I'd love to see Idris Elba since he can play anything.
The franchise has such a great lore that I’d love to see a tv series instead of a movie. Something around 10 episodes long, 2-3 seasons.
The FGC has changed a lot in 10 years (I guess there was a game where the Street Fighter characters FOUGHT the Tekken characters?), and Marvel doesn't even have a seat at the EVO table anymore. What will the FGC look like in another 10 years? (Note: Justin Wong will have gone full-streamer by then, producing videos like "How do Top Players put shoes on??" and "Top Players eat spicy stuff and I record their reactions!")
10 years from now?! Hmm...Justin’s daughter definitely will have her own YouTube channel where she makes fun of her dads toy collection and it somehow gets millions of views. Every time Justin shows up in the background, a laugh track plays. Poor Justin.
Punk will be talking about how SF6 sucks and everyone should play a real game like SF5 but only season 1. The rest of those seasons aren’t alpha enough.
Arturo will somehow have purchased every single CRT on the east coast and turn into essentially a slumlord of TV's. He will only rent them out for Smash tournaments and they must be returned the same day.
Seriously though I hope the scene grows and grows. I hope there is an influx of new players and I really hope net play improves at least a little by then!
If you could make a DFS show (or any interview show for that matter) now, who are some dream guests? I have to say, a Smug/Nuckledu episode would be ground-breaking stuff. And if anyone can unearth Tomo Ohira, they'll be a hero.
We should just do that Smug / Du episode! Let’s put it together next Evo!
I’d love to have a Daigo, Nuki, Choi, and Valle episode with Zhi as translator. The 4 of them talk about how they influenced each other, pushed each other, travelled the world together all through street fighter.
Since that will probably never work out I'd really love to do a Tokido / Sonicfox episode. Hear how they both basically grew up as kids in the FGC and skyrocketed to being some of the biggest names ever. As silly as it would be I'd love for these two multi game specialists to just do a first to 5 in like 20 different games. Would be a ton of fun to see how they adapt.
Let's say Scorpion from MK does make it in to Smash Ultimate, we will finally be able to settle the decades-long question of who wins: MK (Scorpion) vs Street Fighter (Ryu/Ken). What do you think? What are your thoughts on the way those respective companies handle those franchises?
Hahaha! Smash already does have some of the craziest crossovers in the history of games, so seeing Scorpion added would not surprise me at all. Isn't Ryu supposed to be really good in that game? At least better than he is in Street Fighter V!
I think Scorpion would definitely beat Ryu. Either spear through fireball or teleport behind fireball would be too good. But I'd love to dragon punch every blocked teleport.
Will the arcade experience ever return? Maybe with some VR-type stuff at the mall? If Frozen got a fighting game, would you drive to the arcade to see it? (spoiler: Olaf gets banned for being ST-Akuma level broken)
I don’t think so...honestly not sure how it could. I’ll always treasure that time since so many things were unique - paying a quarter, waiting in line, going to back to the change machine, learning physical cues, playing a character because one of the buttons was broken, etc.
However if you look at the talent level at all the games now - everyone is so much better compared to that time. The top 16-32 of any tournament is just made up of killers. Wasn’t always the case.
However if Frozen did show up at the mall, I'd definitely be playing as Olaf and then posting about how he isn't that good.
Being in the video game industry, you must be privy to some exciting behind-the-scenes. But there must be a fair share of cringe-inducing stuff you hear (it's like Candy Crush meets God of War!). Can you tell us a few things that never (thankfully) saw the light of day?
I was at Activision during the 360/PS3 generation. People came in all the time to pitch things like, “...but it’s like Minecraft for cooking mama fans!” Or my favorite, “...imagine Guitar Hero meets Fear Effect!” All of us just stared at each other like what?!
You've been in the FGC since "back in the day." You were involved in IRC Chat, and around during the filming of "Bang the Machine." What are your top 2 rivalries/ epic moments you witnessed. A bunch of testosterone-fueled 20-year olds navigating the prehistoric "esports" landscape must have produced some crazy stuff.
I remember walking into play land arcade which was in Times Square to play Hyper Fighting. As I walked in a Guile player threw a Ken player which erupted into the Ken player picking up the other guy and body slamming him onto the ground. He then started kicking him in his ribs and told him to go play Street Fighter Pinball. I quickly left!
One of my favorite moments at any tournament was the Street Fighter Alpha 2 tournament at Ecc5. The finals were David Sirlin vs. Thao Duong. This was an arcade tournament and everyone had to pay a quarter to play - nothing was on free play. Back then it was more common to have a favorite side to play on. People would even do coin flips to get their preferred side.
Another thing that was common back then was switching sides after losing. This has been a rule forever and something that Sonicfox used to win Evo this year.
Add to the fact that this was an east coast tournament which meant 4 out of 7! So it was a perfect storm of every single time either one lost, they would purposefully ask to switch sides which would require both to insert another quarter.
They didn't like each other and just wanted to make the other one suffer. And of course the bracket reset. Alpha 2 is a relatively fast game but these finals went on forever with both running out of money and having to ask to borrow $5 to get more quarters so they could keep playing.
However this would not be a good answer if it didn't include at least one Mike Watson story. Him betting the east coast he could beat all of their best players in ST 90-10 still makes me laugh. Can't remember if he ever did do it though.
You're given any game franchise with an unlimited budget to reboot. What is it, and how would you do it? I'm not a philanthropist and this isn't a job interview, so don't go crazy with detail. But what is your dream project? Duck Tales with Unreal Engine graphics? Castlevania Bat flight simulator? Candy Crush meets God of War??
Guess we can't use that Dogface show money? Hahaha! Honestly I'd love to make something like NBA Jam or NFL Blitz for the switch. I really miss those Midway sports games. Never was a huge fan of 'serious' sports games but I always played the more 'arcadey' ones. I think it's time for them to return!
Thanks to both Vic and Ryan for taking a trip down memory lane with me. Embedding the first part of the first episode for those that haven't watched it or want to watch it again. Make sure to check out the rest of the parts as well.