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eSports Player Excels Despite Autism

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In the eSports realm, it is a rarity to encounter a savant with such dedication and passion to reach perfection, and that person is Jason Zimmerman, also known as Mew2king, one of the only known players within the niche community of Smash Bros. diagnosed with autism but finding a comfortable place as one of the five Gods of Smash

Born in Cinnaminson, New Jersey on February 5, 1989. He graduated from Cinnaminson High School in 2007. He, then, attended Lorain County Community College before transferring to Camden County College and earned an Associate’s Degree in Game Design and Computer Science.

Mew2King complained about the extra time it took to graduate:

Actually almost a year past that, but the credits never transferred from Lorain County College in Ohio so I had to do 2/3rds of a year extra for no good reason.

After obtaining a degree he stopped pursuing anything else but his passion for games and Smash Bros.

Even Zimmerman himself has mentioned that he has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome, which is a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate. Reports indicate he has have suffered from OCD and ADHD.

The game he plays competitively the most is “Super Smash Bros. Melee,” an arcade-style fighting game similar to “Street Fighter” and “Tekken” but with a free form of gameplay.

He appeared on the scene of competitive gaming in 2006, at the age of 16, in an MLG (Major League Gaming) Pro Circuit tournament and has since improved to become one of the best smash players the gaming community has ever seen in eSports.

Early in the community noticed he was not the average player or person in general, he did not understand the typical social nuances and humor custom in everyday life and would take things literally.

An example would be when he was carpooling with other fellow players and was jokingly told to get out, and he actually tried to whilst the car was moving. Another example would be when he took another player’s jacket to use as a blanket for a nap during an eSports tournament while he waited for his match to be announced.

His work ethic has been mentioned repeatedly by friends and rivals alike, as Kashan, Chillindude, Khan attributes much of his skills to simply having a fervent commitment to improving himself through sheer practice and study of the game’s intricacies such as frame rates.

This passion to better his skills earned him a nickname; The Robot. He earned this name because of the systematic style of fighting he uses against his opponents.

Much of the hype behind the smash community began organizing from a grassroots-type of gathering players from all over the country to play together for fun at first. Then it took the eSports route once there were enough pros to incentivize money tournaments pooled from donations with little to no sponsorship from major companies.

Once money began to seep into the gaming arena, the teams came along with salaries and sponsorships since the gaming community does see the value of eSports such as “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Dota 2,” and “League of Legends” all of which garner millions of views in streaming.

Through this Zimmerman was further exposed to social interactions and slowly gained a better of understanding of interacting with fellow smash players, even if it meant offending or confusing those around him, but he never intentionally meant to irk others. He is just socializing and learning to be surrounded by people, and he credits much of this growth to the community.

Zimmerman explained:

I developed my social skills over the past nine years. I wasn’t exposed to situations as much as most people. When I do something different or weird people assume I’m dumb, but then I play them in Smash and they realize I’m way smarter than they think.

Mew2King mentioned the mental fatigue slowing gamers down in an ESPN article. “I will say the depression, for reasons I don’t want to talk about, is I think a big source of my inconsistency,” said Mew2King shortly after joining Echo Fox in 2016.

He added, “You’ll see me like lose to someone much worse than me, then I’ll 3-0 people better than me all the time.” He high functioning so it is not uncanny to notice his complete knowledge in something that he is passionate about.

Former Echo Fox eSports team CEO Jace Hall discussed the pressures of playing eSports professionally with Mew2King: “Whether you get first, second, fifth — dude, I’m not even worried about it. Just play.” Upon hearing this, Zimmerman’s eyes widened.

“I don’t want to treat players as they’re only as good as their last win,” Hall said. “That’s not how you invest and build the player up.” It is an amazing accomplishment to find your passion early on as Zimmerman did with eSports. He remains engaged, is paid for competing. Moreover, it is marvelous he recognizes that autism is not a blessing or curse.

Written by Juan Ayala
Edited by Cathy Milne

Sources:

Reddit: What can I do to improve? As a person (and other things)
Vice News: This Is Your Brain On ESports
ESPN: Mew2King Continues His Battle With Smash and Self

Featured Image Courtesy of Vinh Nguyen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Phil Nolan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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