by Alphaville Herald on 23/01/07 at 7:17 pm
by Davgor Edgeworth
[Editor's Note: We first noticed Pixel Sumo back in November, courtesy of its creator, Ebenezer Pixel. For a more in-depth look at the experience of becoming a fat, diapered virtual wrestler, though, we turn you over now to the ministrations of Davgor Edgeworth, who has gone the extra mile to bounce the editorial competition out of the ring.
Normally most games in Second Life require dozens of lines of script, a significant amount of Lindens or both. However, one of the quicker growing games in SL requires only two pose balls, and a roughly 6m wide disk: Pixel Sumo.
That’s right, sumo wrestling. To the uninitiated, it’s a sport where two contenders, most often called “rikishi,” try to force each other out of a ring, called a “dohyo”. Usually, the wrestlers are heavy as to make it both more difficult for their opponent to push them out, and to give them a little more momentum when they are ramming their rival. F=ma — force equals mass times acceleration — in action in it’s most base form. They also wear, for lack of a better term, a special underwear called a “mawashi”, and nothing else. Usually this is the point where most journalists make a “fat guys in diapers” joke. However, I am not most journalists, and this is not traditional sumo. [No problem, I already took care of it above. -- Ed.]
Pixel Sumo operates similarly to the real thing: two people trying to get each other out of the ring first. However, because of the engine Second Life runs on, the size of the contender does not matter, as everyone has just as much force as everyone else. People of all shapes, sizes and manner of dress are welcome to compete, which makes it more appealing to people who set up their character just the way they want and do not want to distort it in any way.
My first Pixel Sumo match took place on December 7th. When I took the screenshot above, the owner and creator of Pixel Sumo, Ebenezer Pixel, was still making some changes to the arena, such as adding benches to both sides. (Originally, spectators sat on an upper blue ring, and those who wanted to compete sat on the red.)
Shortly before the match, two women in kimonos showed up and waited to greet everyone. This added to the atmosphere of being at a real match, and they didn’t look too bad either. At roughly 8:00 SLT, we were informed that Ebenzer was going to be late. So, I figured I’d take the extra time to get ready. I figured if I were to do this, I might as well do it right, mawashi and all:
BEFORE: LEAN AND MEAN, AND AFTER: BULKED UP AND READY TO SUMO
So after some considerable changes, everybody went to their respective places. Ebenzer announced the rules, and the first match started.
As mentioned earlier, since there is no actual “pushing” involved, the competitors instead try to either trick each other into running off the ring or get their opponent close enough to the edge so that a nudge gets the job done. The match was not pulse-pounding, as it pretty much looked like two guys running around each other, but it was an interesting watch.
With that said, let it be known that I’m the kind of person who would rather play sports than watch them. After several minutes of waiting (and crashing my computer), it was finally my turn to shine. Lag is crucial in this event, and luckily it was sparse on my less than substantial PC. However, luck alone was not enough to win for me, and my opponent, Derrick Cult, managed to push me off.
After several rounds of single elimination tournament style play, the final match began between Malbogio Newchurch and Derrick Cult. It was a long battle, almost 2 minutes of trickery and tussling, four times longer than a traditional sumo bout (which tend to last about 30 seconds). Malbogio Newchurch came out on top, after a quick nudge.
One thing that is noteworthy is how well the entire event is put together. Ebenezer Pixel is obviously a dedicated fan, as he was a dressed as a referee for sumo, known as a “gyoji”. The ready stances associated with the pose balls were true to the sport, and the ranking system is also reminiscent of its origins. It’s not exact, but it is fairly easy to understand: the champion of the final match gets two points, the runner up gets one. There are four ranks which each require a set number of these points: Kosumbi (lowest, 1 point), Seiwake (4 points), Ozeki (8 points) and Yokozuna (highest, 16 points). Everyone who holds those ranks get a special “skirt”, or kensho-mawashi, that shows his or her standing. Ranked wrestlers also get a small bonus per match won, another trait that carries over here. The event was well organized, and a specific breakdown of the rules and matches can be found at the Pixel Sumo Web site. Ebenezer also plans to more expansions to the dohyo, including a sushi bar in the basement and a private office.
Pixel Sumo is a sigh of relief compared to most other games in SL because it’s skill based to an extent, unlike the various casino and easy money games. Also, while we’re on the subject, it is (potentially) a lot more lucrative then camping chairs and HippiePay, two of the biggest “get rich quick” rip-offs in SL. Winners get L$250 Lindens, runner-ups get L$125, and the event takes only an hour. It is quite exciting to participate in and really requires you to be on your toes. It is definitely worth checking out. It takes place every Thursday at 8:00 SL time.
Now that the who, what, where, when and how have been answered, all that’s left to ask is: why? Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, although such a game is not really necessary in the world of Second Life. The most likely reason was to bring something the creator liked in real life to our fair virtual world, which is not far off base as an answer, given all the sex/goth clubs, furries, casinos, bars, and other little “vices” in Second Life. At the end of the day, is that not what video games are really about? Relating a piece of our real world into an almost limitless virtual world?