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Afraid to Play with Others


I’m afraid of playing against people online.

What a ridiculous statement.  However, it’s true.  I play World of Warcraft as a single player game, I never play any FPS online except for Halo 3, and I completely shun anything team based.  Always.

I do have a couple of reasons:

  • Despite being really into video games, I suck at video games.  I have completely given up ever trying to play a sports game or RTS online ever again.  It’s just frustrating and humiliating.
  • Following on from that, in a game like WOW, I am continually concerned I am going to screw up and cause a wipe, thus ruining any fun for everyone.  I have never ran an instance with anybody, ever.
  • Some people in WOW are jerks and I don’t want to deal with that during my leisure time, because I get worked up and it’s exhausting.  The jerks are a minority but they ruin the experience.  Xbox Live on the other hand, the other main avenue for potential online fun, is infested with idiots who think racist slurs are somehow valid when playing video games.  Hence, Halo 3 on mute.  Though team based slayer is as co-op as I get.

Now, this is crippling in many ways.  I have to make an utterly ridiculous confession: I bought Left 4 Dead on the PC.  I really liked playing Left 4 Dead on the PC.  I think it’s an amazing game.  I love the pacing, the artwork, the character design decisions.  I have never played Left 4 Dead with another human.


My reasoning is simple.  I would suck, and ruin it.  Also... I find it awkward to be talking to dudes I’ve never met and will never meet.  It’s just weird.

So, my fear of multiplayer is so crippling that I have yet to enjoy one of the best multiplayer experiences released in the last few years in its true form.  I spent weeks playing a game exclusively intended for online multiplayer completely on my own.  The game was so appealing that I wanted to play it, and I could thanks to the magic of bots.  I'm clearly not getting the whole experience.  In fact, I miss out on the multiplayer aspects of most games.

So, am I missing out on the whole point?  I’m not sure I am.  The single player experience still shapes my enjoyment of video games in general.  My favourite things about video games tend to be story-related in any case. The visceral competitiveness of most FPS online modes or even the chase for leaderboard position in arcade-style games like Geometry Wars really does not appeal to me.  So, for this guy at least, multiplayer options tend to be a bonus if anything.

The one exception is when multiplayer options are successfully linked to my irrational and completely insatiable desire to level up in a game.  Forza 2 thusly drew me into a lot of online playing.  Modern Warfare 2 is extremely appealing to me, especially as I never played the original.  In the aforementioned (and much mentioned, in this post) Halo 3, I was driven to push myself to get to an officer rank.

So what’s the answer?  Levelling up in Left 4 Dead?  Clearly, that would be weird.  I’m happy though, playing my video games on my own, or grinding online for a level or rank with the mute button soldered down.  I can be afraid for a while longer.