Multiplayer and Me

Multiplayer, such a curious thing. Who knows what it is that keeps me coming back to the online experience over and over again. Maybe it’s the unlock based systems that ensure persistent gratification, maybe it’s the promise of some sort of challenge that will test my expertise, or maybe it’s just a mindless activity that I know will keep me busy. Even though competitive multiplayer seems to sometimes bring out the worst in me, I keep coming back, and I wish I knew why.

Recently games such as Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Battlefield 3, and Planetside 2 have known my recurring presence in their Multiplayer experiences. It in fact seems as if my only game play experiences within the past month have been online. Maybe that’s because there has been a lack of new game releases lately, but usually when that happens I have been known to work on my backlog. Unfortunately XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and Assassins Creed 3 have not pulled me back into their worlds as I would have expected, instead game play experiences that I had previously thought of as tired, seem to have lured me into their unrelenting clutches.

Why though? Why is an online experience so appealing to me now? I don’t mean to say that I am naturally averse to an online competitive environment, I have logged many hours into several online shooters, fighting games, and I have even dabbled in Dark Souls new dueling system. However that type of game play had never dominated my gaming routine. I actually believe there are two reasons as to why I never seem to get overly attached to online experiences. One reason is the pacing, in a singleplayer setting I am able to tread at my own tempo, and take the time I need to feel out the game; this opposed to a multiplayer setting, in which you must be able to swim with the sharks or not at all. The second reason, the frustration, the irritation that comes from being bested by your opponent; where in a singleplayer game you are able to pretty easily develop a strategy and overcome adversaries, multiplayer allows for a presence without the predictability of AI to counter said strategy, and defeat you.

That said, there is an astounding potential for reward in a competitive venue. From the first time you take someone down in a multiplayer shooter, the enduring crave for such thrill is set in. Reward based systems seen in almost every competitive shooter on the market provide a reason to come back time and time again. Even if rewards are not enough for you, the skill that comes out of playing for hours and hours and hours creates an incentive itself. But even with all of the unique characteristics that multiplayer has, I found often that the negatives outweighed the positives for me.

Maybe I’ve changed. Maybe after all of my years of playing games, I have started to look for different things in an interactive experience. That is not to say that I do not still enjoy playing games by myself, I know for a fact that I still find immense appeal in any kind of singleplayer experience, an RPG, an adventure game, or what have you. Maybe the desire to shy away from something that may be frustrating and difficult to keep up with has diminished. I don’t find this to be a bad thing, that’s for sure; after all it is always nice to be open to new and different experiences. Right? Whatever the case may be, I see that while there may be trouble to be had in an online environment, this new behavior has at least allowed me to occupy my time in this dry spell, and I guess that’s reason enough for me. I don’t know.

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