More people are engaging in martial arts in video games than ever before. There are more than 1.2 billion people playing video games worldwide, crossing both gender and age boundaries. The popularity of video games could not have been expected by the first developers almost 50 years ago.

Many parents and business felt that video games were just a passing fad. It is one of the main reasons people don’t realize how popular gaming has become. With the prevalence of video gamers worldwide, it is no surprise that many people find out about certain topics, such as martial arts, from video games, before anything else.

martial arts
Screenshot from Age of Wulin
Get Gaming Now,Flickr CC License.

Future of Martial Arts in Video Games

Part I of this two part series looked back at the history of martial arts in video games, with games such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat being some of the al time classics. Over the decades, more games have become staples to the fighting-genre, the predominate genre for martial arts games, and other genres of video games have begun including realistic martial arts within their worlds.

Compared to systems of the second generation of systems, the current generation of gamers can play through massive open worlds with thousands of other players at the same time. Motion control is a new trend brought back into prominence with Nintendo’s Wii. It is getting players off the couch and showing a new side of martial arts in video games. The future of martial arts in video games has changed over the years. And it will continue to change in the years to come.

martial arts video games
FanimeCon 2014 Cosplay
Sean Lee,Flickr CC License.

There are about 700 million gamers play video games online, which is 44 percent of the world’s online population. During the fifth generation of consoles, computer gaming started to produce massively multiplayer online games (MOOGs). Hundreds to thousands of players interact with each other online in a massive gaming world.

Where Jade Empire and Shenmue set the stage for open world Wuxia, games like the free-to-play Age of Wulin or World of Kung Fu have allowed players to experience the expansiveness of MOOGs with the excitement of martial arts. Although these games currently don’t boast as large numbers of players as WoW, they are still worth checking out.

martial arts video games
World of Warcraft booth at Gamescom 2013
Sergey Galyonkin,Flickr CC License.

Games with Martial Arts

Coming out later this year is another MOOG martial arts game, Absolver. It aims to have fluid, dynamic movement and custom combinations of familiar martial arts techniques. Absolver, unlike most martial arts video games, is aiming for a more realistic martial arts feel.

Playing games with martial arts when I was younger was more fanciful than the martial arts of actual martial artists. This is likely due to the challenge of making a game reflect the nuances and complexities of the practice. Over the years, there have been only few games that have included realistic marital arts within the core gaming mechanics. One of the best examples is Jet Li: Rise To Honor. It is considered by many to have the most realistic martial arts gameplay of any game.

More recently, both the Metal Gear Solid and Batman: Arkham series have allowed the main characters to perform realistic martial arts moves to subdue opponents. Another example can be found in Sleeping Dogs, with gritty combat that includes all kinds of weapons. Despite the realism in these games, no one is going to learn martial arts or get a sense of the challenges martial artists face by sitting on the couch playing games.

martial arts video games
Batman: Arkham City
Joshua Livingston,Flickr CC License.

VR in Video Games

Popularized in 2006, the use of accelerometers to detect the approximate orientation and acceleration of controllers for video games began the motion control movement. Currently, every major gaming console includes some kind of motion control. Most highlight fight games that have players fight opponents from the middle of their living room.

There are a few examples of martial arts video games utilizing motion control, from Kinect Sports to KungFu High Impact. The latter has you fighting wizards and giants with a repertoire of punches, kicks, jumps. and much more. There are countless fighting games that use motion control now, some of which can actually teach real moves.

Although video games are currently no replacement for actually taking martial arts, with the current rate of innovation coming out of  the video game industry, it may only be a few years. One such innovation is the current push for the integration of virtual reality (VR) into the gaming experience. Imagine putting on goggles, standing in the middle of your home, and feeling like you are fighting through your favorite marital arts film.

VR has not quite taken hold in the industry, particularly due to the high cost for VR accessories. However, VR will only continue to improve, granting gamers a whole new way to experience their favorite worlds. Another innovation in games is procedural generation, or random generation, which can make each gamers experience unique. By creating data algorithmically, games can include smaller file sizes, larger amounts of content, and randomness for less predictable gameplay. It is all better for the gamer.

martial arts video games
VR Gaming
Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería,Flickr CC License.

Video Games Inspire New Martial Artists

Video games have come a long way since pong. And the portrayal of marital arts in video games is at an all time high. More players are finding joy and excitement out of a special move they just learned or from the deadly realism of their characters finishing move. Fans of martial arts and video games have a lot to look forward to. From the highly anticipated sequel to a cult classic, Shenmue III, to the latest installment of an all time great, Tekken 7.

Martial arts and video games will always be connected. Even if the programers don’t realize the latest programed move has roots in kung fu or jiu-jitsu. Fans of the old marital arts films will find comfort in many of the titles listed in both parts of this series. And it’s possible there are new martial artists inspired by the video games. I will always be a gamer and continue to get my martial arts fix whenever I turn on my gaming system.

martial arts video games
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