By Sweep 21 Comments
Before you erupt into prepubescent giggles, this isn't another blog about Sweep getting drunk. If that's what you were looking for then I advise you to come back on Sunday.
Videogames are, largely for myself, a solo endeavour.I will participate in internet shenanigans, but the general gist of the occasion is me sitting in my room by myself. Depressing as that may initially sound, I would assume that for a lot of the people here the case is extremely similar, if not identical. Exploratory videogame surgery is best performed alone, a secondary influence considered corruptive and distracting. How can you make completely honest moral decisions with the real-life equivalent of Vinny sitting next to you and urging you to shoot your team-mate in the head.
I have fond memories of playing through resident Evil 4 with my brother riding shotgun, offering advice and sharing my fear and enthusiasm for every nightmarish punk that popped up with a chainsaw. Super Smash Bro's remains one of the best Multiplayer experiences around, even with one controller. The game is broken up into lots of bite-size chunks that make tag-teaming especially effective - particularly the event matches. Rewarding the entire group with unlockable characters which could then be used in multiplayer matches was, I though, a nice touch. Super Monkey Ball was another game that generated hours of slow-paced competition as we passed a single controller back and forth while attempting to land our bizarre flying monkey-ball on a target in the middle of a seemingly endless ocean.
I have a decent collection of games. I own pretty much every game of the year contender for 2008 and a fair few from 2009 as well. So why, when pressed to produce a 360 game that could be shared by 3 others, did I come up short - resorting to 2 hours of Castle Crashers and empty 4 player Halo 3 local Slayer.
One of my many lamentations with the gaming world is how difficult it is to share your experiences with other people unless they too have played the game. The typically single-player stereotype has been intensified to a level where empathy with the protagonist can only be truly experienced from the direct perspective of the player. Anyone else in the room can safely be classified as indirect - and therefore less interested or enthusiastic. This is why the bored chump who you have been given the job of entertaining will often encourage you to break from the typical flow of the game. I find it especially trying when people try to instruct me to skip cut-scenes I haven’t seen before. My patience wanes, and I end up playing an alternative - less enjoyable but more socially acceptable - game.
A large chunk stems from social insecurity.Just as we don’t like to cry in a sad film, we don’t like to be seen getting too emotionally involved in a videogame. I played through Gears Of War 2 with Oni and, whilst this is not the most meaningful of games, there are moments of sobriety where I felt impulsively depressed. As a result of playing co-op I found myself dismissing these emotions so we could return to the entertaining run-and-gun/chainsaw action. It worked out fine - as I mentioned, Gears 2 isn't going to win any awards for screenplay. However playing something like Grand Theft Auto 4 in a similar manner would have destroyed the experience for me, and perhaps this is why there is no co-op in Grand Theft Auto 4.
A great example would be the Giantbomb Quick-Looks.Great as they may be, there is no depth to these quick-looks at all. The purpose of a Quick Look is to provide a shallow glance at the potential the game has and the mechanics it employs. For the purpose of a preview this works fine, but this is often not the way the game has been designed to be played. As games become increasingly narrative focussed and, more importantly, as developers gain greater insight as to how to direct the flow of gameplay in an emphatic or cinematic style, they do so at the proposed notion that this experience has been tailored, and will be assigned to, a single player.
Thus, we have the purpose of Giantbomb, of the internet. A place for people to congregate and share views and opinions on topics that are contextually unimportant to the rest of the people in their lives. My friends play computer games, sure, but they have no interest in discussing the sharp character design of Nico Bellic, or how the atmosphere in Portal has been manipulated expertly to heighten the tension and encourage progressive realisations as to the context in which you operate.
I miss being able to share the good times with my friends, but at the same time I don’t know if I would be prepared to sacrifice the advances made in game design in order to do so. For the time being it seems the only way to really enjoy these games is to be the only one in the driving seat.
Woah, this is my first real blog for a while now :D
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