Difficult though it may be to imagine, there was a time when none of us were connected to each other to enjoy multiplayer gaming with friends. In the beginning, online multiplayer on PC’s needed a stand-alone company to deal with connecting gamers to allow us to pwn one another in low ping harmony as we enjoyed the earliest first person shooters. Early attempts of online gaming from consoles in the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 were flaky, unreliable and expensive as hell if you were using a dial-up modem…
These days, multiplayer gaming is pretty much standard. That’s not to say everyone’s addicted to it, but it’s now easier to jump in and start killing each other in digital worlds of splendor than it is to set up a home printer (believe me… I’ve tried). Whether you’re playing Call of Duty on a on an Xbox One, Quake Live in a PC or uhmm… Farmville on Facebook, it’s a pretty ubiquitous pastime. But which is better? Single player or multiplayer games? We’ve been discussing some of the pros and cons this week in The Newbiverse office.
Geeky Social Ineptitude
RL social interactions are often messy, unpredictable affairs. This is a reason why many of us play games in the first place. Even some of the most confident and extrovert of us were attracted to videogames because it stopped us having to deal with other people. Other people cause problems. They are not us. And they are usually responsible for war, famine, game-overs, unsafe lane-changes, stupidity and other terrible, terrible things.
When we indulge in a single player fantasy role-play game, such as Skyrim, we negate the unbearable effects felt from whatever level of social ineptitude we suffer as individuals. Perhaps it’s just a general lack of faith in humanity or an advanced disgust in politics and the way the world’s run. And NO! We’re not interested in hearing any opinions about how well the system does from one of these “other people”, thank you very much. Throw me another dragon, ffs. I’m almost level 24…
Single player gaming means our world, in our own time and in our own way without having appease fragile egos, entertain people, or live up to expectations of etiquette and demeanor. We get to think deeply about how to solve puzzles and watch characters and storylines develop in relative peace and quiet. But for some people, gaming offers an opportunity to vent such social frustrations to a panel of fellow gamers forced to listen to them. This is potentially the other side of the same coin.
Anonymity Plus Audience = Assholes
Yes, this self-explanatory school of thought is enough to induce a deep, deep, deep sigh of exasperation at some of the people we have to deal with when we play multiplayer games. Ok, yes, multi-multiplayer campaigns can be frenetic, dynamic and full of adrenaline. Yes, they delivery opportunities to execute twitch reflex skill plays of unimaginable magnitude that feel amazing. But, the last thing we need after having worked hard all day is the unbearable sound of a 12-year-old “timmy” screaming his two cents at us for having made one tiny mistake in the heat of the moment, using the kind of language that hold a similar letter-count as his developing IQ.
While these people induce a nerd rage deep within our psyche, they devastate the communications channel and are detrimental to the team’s effort at large. Such interactions are as painfully frequent as they are heartbreakingly unavoidable. Surely no high can be worth suffering through this?
But, then again…
When Xbox Live (arguably the first truly successful online gaming experience) first came around in 2002 the number of obnoxious “timmies” that make your life a living hell of online torture was immediately apparent. Since then, there have been a number of groups that have taken this problem head on and made the online experience not only bearable, but enjoyable. Namely, The Good Game Network; with its sixteen clans full of people that are really just there to have a good time, it has become something of a retreat for gamers that are looking to step above the trolls, timmies and team killers. The creation of online Clans like SSG, TTL, BSG etc… has made online gaming fun once again for many of us gamers. Most gamers that are honestly looking for an enjoyable experience tend to gravitate toward groups of friends rather than fly solo and deal with the unintelligible masses.
A Beginning or an End?
For some people, after having spent years chained to a lonely console, the advent of multiplayer gaming heralded a new world. All of a sudden, the good single player games such as Zelda and Final Fantasy seemed flat and boring, linear and pointless. Traveling round the game worlds and speaking to the “non-player characters” seemed a complete non-starter and a massive turnoff.
For many other gamers, the reverse is true. Multiplayer games represent a hamster wheel of infinite arguments with mouth-breathers, no involving storyline, no ending and consequently, no point. Like being stuck in some physical activity that usually has a climax, but instead furiously doing the act and act alone without the satisfaction of that happy ending…
The Newbiverse team couldn’t come to an agreement about which was better. Both are good for different things and super important. Each have those incredibly fun components that none of us would want to miss out on entirely. Having to deal with a few online douche-tards will usually see us skipping around the country side with either Link or Cloud. But, thankfully, we’ll never have to make the decision to drop one completely.
Over to you… Do you beat it solo or with a friend?
Got a strong opinion on single player or multiplayer games? We’d love to hear from you. We’re genuinely interested in whether or not there are still many single player purists out there or if multiplayer has taken over the world…
Mario “Throne of Games” credit Jasinski