Growing up playing video games, I wasn’t the kind of kid that wanted company while he played. I suppose it’s because most my first multiplayer experiences were with games that simply made you take turns. So you were either waiting for the other person to die so you could play or you had that person wishing your death so they could play.
Sure enough, there were some games that actually had co-op, like Double Dragon. But even though the experience was somewhat enhanced by the fact that you had a friend tagging along, joining forces with you I always got the feeling that if I could just take on all the bad guys alone the whole thing would simply be that much more bad-ass.
It also didn’t help that my favorite games, RPGs, normally didn’t have any form of multiplayer or co-op. I knew several people that had played through Zelda as if it were co-op, for example. They simply took turns, like digital perverts. I couldn’t quite get into this form of sharing a character that I was supposed to be role-playing.
What I’m trying to say, basically, is that I grew up as a single player.
I have several theories regarding why gaming has leaned more and more towards multiplayer experiences as the years have passed. And I understand why this sort of thing needs to happen, most humans are rather social people and they crave interaction. But some of us don’t, or at least not all the time. When I do stuff like play a game, read a book, masturbate or other activities that just don’t jump to mind right now, I want to be alone. And I enjoy it alone.
I’ve tried several MMOs, I’ve tried the multiplayer mode in several games. And I have never, not even once, enjoyed it like I enjoyed playing alone. Even the few times that I (sort of) enjoyed the experience, I found myself thinking that I’d enjoy it much more if all those people weren’t there.
At first these things didn’t bother me, because multiplayer modes were something additional, some games had it and others didn’t. It wasn’t mandatory and nobody would question a game for not having it. But they do bother me now, because a game without multiplayer is now considered a flawed game, and the single player mode is now being seen as the additional component – almost like a long tutorial you play through to get ready for the multiplayer. Sometimes, it’s not even long.
New consoles like the upcoming WiiU seem to emphasize multiplayer to the point that I can seriously see how somebody like me just wouldn’t get much out of it. Some people applaud their concept of “asymmetrical gameplay” as if it promised bundles of multiplayer fun. Personally, I just see it as the promise that only one of you is actually going to have fun. The rest are here for support.
I won’t deny the possibility of having a good time playing with other people in my game – it can happen. The only games I have ever enjoyed with a multiplayer component were Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, and that’s because it basically consisted of being aware that other people in the world were playing – and sometimes they’d invade your world and try to kill you. You never spoke to them, you never had to share anything or take turns or anything like that. They were just another enemy that was a little more difficult and generated much more tension. Other people I don’t have to talk to – my favorite kind of people. And still, I always end up thinking that if we develop video game AI enough, we won’t need those people either.
With some of my favorite, characteristically single-player games like God of War and Dead Space going the way of co-op, the future of gaming looks bleak to me. They say that the single player mode won’t be diminished in any way, but we all know that’s not true. It’s just extra resources that could’ve gone into making the single player mode much better, even if it was already good to begin with.
It’s sad, to me, that for some people making games better is synonymous with getting more people to play with you. I’m not a family person, I don’t care if your children like to play with you, and I don’t think there’s anything special about the fact that might have met the love of your life somewhere in Azeroth. I just want to kill, race and jump stuff in private.