Lentis/Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is one of the most enduring fighting franchises in the industry. Not only has the series been able to survive its 19 year lifetime, but it has grown beyond its intent of being a party game with "frantic couch gameplay." Smash has created an entire subculture filled with tournaments and events. This technology even has social impacts on the player and gamer society at large.


  • 1999: Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
  • 2001: Super Smash Bros Melee. (Gamecube)
  • 2008: Super Smash Bros Brawl. (Wii)
  • 2014: Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS and WiiU)
  • 2018: Super Smash Bros Ultimate.[Nintendo Switch]

Super Smash Bros. was created in Japan by Masahiro Sakurai as a multiplayer game for mainstream audiences. The game began as a prototype, known as Dragon King: The Fighting Game. In 1999, Super Smash Bros. was released in Japan for the Nintendo 64. Nearly 2 million sales later, it was released internationally and went on to sell another 3 million copies. In 2011, Sakurai was tasked with creating a sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, which was released in Japan and North America. Melee kept the same format as the original game with the addition of 13 characters and a more extensive single player mode. The most notable improvement was the visuals. In 2008, Nintendo introduced Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii and, in 2014, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU. [1]


According to game analysts, a number of factors influenced the popularity of the Smash Bros. Series. The multiplayer aspect of the game facilitates social interaction, bringing together friends to “fight it out.” However, the game also offers a single player version for those who want to play alone. Each game offers a risky cross-over casting, featuring characters from various Nintendo and affiliated games. Beyond the vibrant visuals and fun user interface, the accessibility of the Super Smash Bros. series makes the games unique. The games lend themselves to a range of audiences. On one level, Super Smash Bros. is easy to grasp and accessible. A novice player can play the game by merely “mashing buttons.” In 2001, Super Smash Bros. Melee introduced special moves that required an advanced level of control. With this addition, skilled players began to surpass casual players, facilitating the game's entrance into professional game play. [2]


In 2017, Jens Hilgers, a Founding Partner of BITKRAFT Esports Ventures and CEO of DOJO Madness, published a chart defining the current three tiers of Esports Games. The oldest game series defined in one of these three tiers was Super Smash Bros. [3] Since 2001, when the first Super Smash Bros. tournament for Melee was held, Super Smash Bros. has been a constant presence in the realm of Esports.[4] The series has been showcased alongside the Olympics and has given out over $3.8 million in prize money at tournaments.[5] [6]


The International eGames Committee is pursuing methods to gain Esport entrance in the Olympics.[7] One of these methods was the introduction of the eGames, an Olympic style event where players represent their countries and take home medals, not prize money. The eGames will occur every two years in the same city and time frame as the Olympics. [8] This introduction of Esports first occurred at the 2106 Rio Olympics. One of the two games showcased at the 2016 Rio eGames was Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. 8 countries sent representatives to the Super Smash Bros competition, including Canada’s Elliot Bastien, USA’s Larry Hollard Jr., and Mexico’s Leonardo Lopez, who took gold, silver, and bronze respectively.[9]


Although Super Smash Bros. entered the scene of professional tournament play the earliest of any tiered game, it has not seen the same growth as many of the more recent games. The largest prize pool money at a Super Smash Bros. tournament has been $83,758. When compared to newer Tier 1 games such as League of Legends, which has had a prize pool money of over $5,000,000, this is insignificant for the amount of time Super Smash Bros. has been in the professional competitive scene.[10] [11]

Slow growth can be attributed to Nintendo's lack of support for the competitive Smash community. This community grew out of grassroots movements from loyal players and admirers of the series. Before 2013, Nintendo was not involved in the community. In 2013, Nintendo’s stance became public with their refusal to allow the Evolution Championship Series to broadcast the Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl tournaments. This forced the tournaments off the main stages and out of the spotlight. This decision outraged the Smash community, who responded with huge backlash against Nintendo. The overwhelming bad press forced Nintendo to reverse their decision and allow the broadcast of the tournaments at the Evolution Championship Series. [12]

Since then, Nintendo has adopted a view of grudging approval and passive support. They have held tournaments for new releases in the series and have granted sponsorships to larger, established events.[13] However, professional Smash players still desire more support, as they see Nintendo focus on their other games in the Esports community and more games from other companies surpass them on the national Esport stage. [14]


Super Smash Bros. brings together iconic characters from a variety of games, many of which made a name for themselves in their own games. Yet, some characters gained their popularity through involvement in the Smash Bros. Series. These iconic characters are seen globally in magazines, Halloween costumes, and commercially.

Gender DynamicsEdit

These iconic characters, and the game that brings them together, also provide interesting commentary on the role of gender dynamics in the gaming industry. Super Smash Bros. is a male-dominated cast. In the first Super Smash Bros., Samus is the only female character. However, her sex is hidden by her suit of armor. Super Smash Bros. Melee brought in new characters, Peach and Zelda/Sheik. The introduction of these characters has received mixed reactions. Some players, such as Drew Mackie, point to the juxtaposition between Zelda and her alter ego, Sheik. Zelda is frail and throw sparks. Sheik is androgynous and ninja-like. Drew states, “I’m probably reading too much into the character’s duality, but it nonetheless seemed to suggest that Zelda — on her own, with her long hair, in her princess gown, with her sparkle magic — wasn’t strong enough to duke it out with the other Nintendo mascots.” [15] Peach doesn’t have an alter ego but embodies many female stereotypes. Super Smash Bros. Brawl did not introduce additional female characters. However, 8 out of 36 characters in Super Smash Bros. WiiU and 3DS were female in 2014. Gamers have mixed reactions to this change. Some say that more female characters are needed, while others say “please no female characters” in “Super Smash BROS.” [16]

Social ConsequencesEdit

Gender DiscriminationEdit

While there are many benefits to the Smash community, it is important to consider how the community treats certain groups, such as women. Women are a clear minority in the Smash community. 5% of the members of the UVA Smash Facebook group are female. A study of 51 female Smashers provides insight on this dynamic. These women report to enjoy the game, tournaments, and experiences. They state that they love the Smash community and do not regret joining. However, the discrepancy lies in the fact that 20% of the women have considered quitting due to sexism.

The online culture is difficult to monitor, creating an environment that allows for expressions of hate. Out of 51 women, only 1 had never experienced sexism. Over 75% of the women experienced demeaning comments and jokes. 39% of the women experienced inappropriate sexual advances. Over 15% of the women were even stalked by a fellow Smasher. This abuse pushed 20% of women to consider quitting and another 18% to actually leave their beloved hobby. These statistics highlight the issue with inclusivity and safety within this community, which reflects the gender inequalities of society at large. Smash women are asking to be treated “like any other Smasher” and to not receive any positive or negative special attention.[17]

Groups such as Smash Sisters are forming to advocate against discrimination. Smash Sisters is a series of all-female crew battles that occurs at every major Smash tournament. The mission of this group is “to nurture the growth of inclusivity within the Smash Community at large by encouraging women to compete and share their love of the games.” [18] Some transgender individuals still struggle to find their place in the Smash community. “Nyani”, a Smash Sisters event attendee, heavily praised the Smash Sisters but stated that “the heartbreaking part was seeing that there were certainly a few pre-transition individuals who expressed not feeling like they belonged.” [19] This advocacy group is striving to improve inclusivity for all going forward.

Impacts of ViolenceEdit

The rapid growth of violent fighting games such as Super Smash Bros. could increase players’ aggression level. Research indicates that repetition of violence throughout games can reinforce and increase aggressive behavior in players, especially children. [20] A study by Dai and Fry in 2014 demonstrated that children who play violent video games had a higher heart rate, more dizziness and nausea, and more aggressive thoughts. [21] Research by Willoughby and colleagues suggests high schoolers who played more action and fighting games - but not nonviolent games - had increasing aggression levels over the four years of high school. [22] However, external factors such as home life, personality, and socioeconomic class, as well as challenges assessing aggression, make it difficult to determine the true impact of violent video games. However, this is still an important consideration, particularly for children, who are impressionable and will be the future leaders of our world.

Improved SkillsEdit

Engagement with video games like Smash can positively impact players. It is widely accepted that video games can develop skills such as manual dexterity, computer literacy, following directions, problem solving, and strategizing. [23] Fighting video games can improve attention and vigilance; Dye and his colleagues demonstrated reduced impulsiveness in video game players as they learn to refrain from responding to non-target stimuli. Further, research indicates that multiplayer games such as Smash aid in learning how to trust and reject others, lead groups, and cooperate with other players. [24]

Action games can also improve cognitive challenges. A study published in Current Biology demonstrated that as few as 12 hours of game play improved dyslexic children’s scores on tests of reading and psychology. This improvement was deemed greater than that achieved by training programs explicitly designed for dyslexia treatment. [25] Also, cognitive flexibility, attention, working memory, and abstract reasoning generally decline with age. Many experiments demonstrate that video game play results in improvement of these skills; one study by Ana Carla Torres in 2011 even showed that play enhanced quality of life for elderly participants. [26]


The Super Smash Brothers community presents positive and negative social impacts to society. It is important to consider how the impacts of Smash’s expansion can be controlled appropriately. It must be determined who has the power to control the game’s growth, which raises the following questions: is it the job of the producer to control for the impacts of the game? Is it the duty of the players to shape their culture? A need going forward as the game transforms is to determine who will be paving the way; while not any one person can decide this, it is up to the involved participants to evaluate their vision for the community.


  1. Watts, M. (2018, August 28). Feature: The History of Super Smash Bros. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/08/feature_the_history_of_super_smash_bros
  2. GamesTM Staff. (2017). Super Smash Bros: How fun, accessibility, and sheer audacity gave Nintendo the most unlikely fighting game classic. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from http://www.gamesradar.com/super-smash-bros-how-fun-accessibility-and-sheer-audacity-gave-nintendo-the-most-unlikely-fighting-game-classic/
  3. The Esports Observer. (2017, December 1). Esports Games Tiers. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://esportsobserver.com/esports-games-tiers/
  4. Soma. (2015, October 19). Premium Fight: The Very First Melee Tournament. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from http://sourcegaming.info/2015/10/19/premiumfight/
  5. E-sports-earnings. (2017). ESports Games By Name - eSports Game Rankings. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.esportsearnings.com/games/browse-by-name
  6. East, T. (2016, August 10). Who is competing for Britain at the Rio eGames? Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/rio-de-janeiro-egames-and-players-confirmed
  7. Winkle, D. V. (2016, August 10). Super Smash Bros. Will Join the Olympics in Rio in “2016 eGames Showcase”. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.themarysue.com/smash-bros-olympics/
  8. Daoud, E. (2016, August 11). More viewers than the NBA: the sport trying to make its way into the Olympics. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from http://www.news.com.au/technology/home-entertainment/gaming/more-viewers-than-the-nba-the-sport-trying-to-make-its-way-into-the-olympics/news-story/e8744402505e5ad9109e3d987ed21c4f
  9. Smash.gg. (2016). Rio de Janeiro eGames Showcase 2016. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://smash.gg/tournament/rio-de-janeiro-egames-showcase-2016/attendees
  10. E-sports-earnings. (2017, December 2). League of Legends Prize Pools & Top Players - eSports Profile :: e-Sports Earnings. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.esportsearnings.com/games/164-league-of-legends
  11. E-sports-earnings. (2017, November 12). Super Smash Bros. Melee Prize Pools & Top Players - eSports Profile :: e-Sports Earnings. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.esportsearnings.com/games/204-super-smash-bros-melee
  12. Murray, T. (2017, September 5). Nintendo vs. Smash. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://esports.htc.com/articles/nintendo-vs-smash
  13. Murray, T. (2017, September 5). Nintendo vs. Smash. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://esports.htc.com/articles/nintendo-vs-smash
  14. Cozens, W. (2017, August 23). No Nintendo, no problem -- how Smash Bros. continues to thrive. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/20421406/no-nintendo-no-problem-how-smash-bros-continues-thrive
  15. Mackie, D. (2008). Ladysmash: Gender Roles in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from http://www.backofthecerealbox.com/2008/03/ladysmash-gender-roles-in-super-smash.html.
  16. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. (2008). PLEASE, no more female characters. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from https://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/633202-super-smash-bros-for-wii-u/69738192
  17. Chhetri, N. (2014, March 10). The Voices of Women in the Super Smash Brothers Community. http://www.meleeitonme.com/the-voices-of-women-in-the-super-smash-brothers-community/
  18. O'Neal, E. (2017, November 22). Smash Sisters Seeks to Normalize Female Competitors. Retrieved from https://smashboards.com/threads/smash-sisters-seeks-to-normalize-female-competitors.451783/
  19. Smapps. (2016, February 16). Transcending Barriers: Transgender Women in Smash. Retrieved from https://smashboards.com/threads/transcending-barriers-transgender-women-in-smash.431200/
  20. Palo Alto Medical Foundation. (2015). The Impact of Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/parenting-teens/general/media-web/videogames.html
  21. Dai, D., & Fry, A. (2014, April 14). Effect of Video Games on Child Development. Retrieved from https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2014/04/effect-of-video-games-on-child-development/
  22. Willoughby, T., Adachi, P. J. C., & Good, M. (2012). A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 48, 1044-1057
  23. Palo Alto Medical Foundation. (2015). The Impact of Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/parenting-teens/general/media-web/videogames.html
  24. Dye, Matthew W. G., C. Shawn Green, and Daphne Bavelier. 2009. “Increasing Speed of Processing with Action Video Games.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 18:321–26.
  25. Franceschini, Sandro, Simone Gori, Milena Ruffino, Simona Viola, Massimo Molteni, and Andrea Facoetti. 2013. “Action Video Games Make Dyslexic Children Read Better.” Current Biology 23:462–66.
  26. Torres, Ana Carla Seabra. 2011. “Cognitive Effects of Video Games on Old People.” International Journal on Disability and Human Development 10:55–58.