Today, we have Akira “Akiman” Yasuda, Seiji Aoki, John Tobias, Tong Lee, and Victor "Spooky" Fontanez
We’re nearing the end of our Top 50 Most Influential People in the FGC project, where we highlight FGC’s shining stars and community leaders whose names are destined for the Halls of Fame. These figures, whether through their exceptional gaming skill, their extraordinary contributions to the community, or their tireless efforts in fostering growth and inclusivity, have helped shape the FGC into what it is today.
However, it's essential to note that while this list aims to honor some of the most remarkable individuals within the FGC, the inherent subjectivity of such rankings means that many other influential figures may not find themselves among these fifty names. The FGC is diverse and expansive, teeming with talent and dedication at every level, and influence often extends beyond the boundaries of a list. This compilation serves as a tribute to those who have undoubtedly played a significant role in the growth and evolution of the Fighting Game Community, but it's important to remember that the impact of countless others is equally valuable and deserving of recognition.
Today, we have one of the FGC's most influential artists, Akira "Akiman" Yasuda, one of SEGA's key designers and visual artists, Seiji Aoki, father of MK, John Tobias, FGC's unshakable pillar, Victor "Spooky" Fontanez, and someone who gets the least sleep in the FGC, Tong Lee. Congratulations!
Akira "Akiman" Yasuda
Art is one of the most often overlooked parts of fighting games. And we don’t just mean character outfits or stages, which are usually at the forefront of any discussion about the visuals. We’re talking about the fundamental principles of design.
This is why Akiman is by far one of the most influential artists when it comes to Capcom, and fighting games in general. Back during the development of Darkstalkers, he put together “Anatomy: A Strange Guide for Artists” a document that guided other artists to create expressive sprites and designs that would look good in a fighting game.
Even now, the core principles of this guide live on to inform the creators of Street Fighter 6, and have inspired countless fighting game developers to follow suit.
One of the few key people responsible for the creation of Mortal Kombat, by far the most well known fighting game franchise in the whole world.
John Tobias contributed many of his creative ideas that ended up at the core of MK’s art style, atmosphere, and narrative. Even when fighting games only told you story through ending slides, he was trying to build up a whole universe, which eventually led to the MK comic book and a Mythologies game, which used FMV cutscenes.
His passion for telling stories and creating universes is still felt in the franchise, influencing the direction of Mortal Kombat stories and by extension, served as an example for everyone else in the genre.
Seiji Aoki has long worked on SEGA titles as one of the key designers and visual artists, but his presence expanded greatly since the early days, eventually leading to Seiji contributing to multiple titles as a producer, including the most recent Virtua Fighter titles.
Since becoming the face of Virtua Fighter, Seiji Aoki has revitalized the series by bringing many aspects of it into the modern era, and with him behind the wheel, Virtua Fighter fans can trust that the future title will not only come out in good state, but also live up to the legacy.
Victor "Spooky" Fontanez
Know by many as Spooky, Victor Fontanez is one of the pillars for the FGC community. His extensive background include almost every large event that you can think of, including Evo, Capcom Pro Tour, and Tekken World Tour.
Whether he’s a commentator, broadcaster, or organizer, Spooky always puts in the effort required to provide people with a top level event. The long-running Next Level Battle Circuit has been a resounding proof of that, both online and offline. The memories and hype moments from those tournaments will forever stay at the heart of the FGC.
Tampa Never Sleeps, and neither does Tong Lee, because one wouldn’t be able to exist without the other. And without TNS, fighting game competition would lose one of the most memorable and exciting events of the year.
However, TNS is far from Tong’s only contribution, the man has used his extensive talent as a planner, producer, and organizer to aid in dozens of events that both players and spectators look forward to year after year.
People like Tong make it look easy, but balancing all these responsibilities requires an incredible amount of time, willpower, and dedication, which we can’t thank him enough.
We have only two entries remaining in this series. Who do you want to see in the top 50?