Short Ones: The Multiplayer Bug

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I think I’ll start a series called “short ones” where I’ll post about random thoughts I’ve had during the day which may or may not actually have a point.

I have a number of cherished games that I played growing up, Star Wars Rogue Squadron, Disney’s Hercules, Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Halo (the original trilogy), to name a few. One thing they all had in common was they were all single player games.

I love stories: Tales like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Greek Mythology, Star Wars Legends books, and the Warhammer 40K lore;tragedy or comedy, classic or nouveau, stories were something I’ve always been fond of. Video games, to me, are another medium of storytelling for me to enjoy. So when I was growing up I never really understood the fascination my peers had for the multiplayer only experience. They would talk about Battle Realms, DOTA (1), Red Alert, and I just couldn’t relate. I just didn’t see what could be fun about repeating the same conflict over and over again with random people online or in a café.At least games like Ragnarok Online and World of Warcraft had lore to fall back on while you meandered through your 10th forest of the day collecting that quest’s McGuffin.My only exposure to multiplayer games growing up was Counter-Strike 1.6 which I enjoyed as a kid but only when I played with friends. I never played online and I certainly never played competitively. It came as a shock to me now around midway into early adulthood that I find myself obsessed with Overwatch.

It’s confusing. I play the same game over and over again, fighting for the same objective, against the same group of enemies but I never get tired of it. Worse still at $40 for the base game, it doesn’t even have half the content my SP games on Steam have that I’m currently ignoring. And yet I’ve already logged in over 100 hours in just a few months (noob). I’m even streaming my games now so I could show off my successes (haha!) online.

Competing against other players is a bigger challenge than just fighting with the enemy AI. Unlike the computer, humans have a better game sense and coordinate with each other better. You can’t time Ultimates with an AI controlled character. It’s a much more satisfying achievement knowing you outsmarted and outplayed another player. It’s also a huge boost to your ego when you see your ranking climb up several tiers above others’. That trumps any “Achievement” a single player game can give me any day.

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