The Multiplayer Tango

As mentioned last week, I play a LOT of video games. Sports games. RPGs. Incredibly bizarre Japanese games. Somehow even more bizarre American games. Survival games, shooters, and creation/exploration games. In fact, if you list a game genre, there’s a good chance I’ve played something from it. It’s what I do. After all, as a mid-30s male, clearly I still have some growing up to do, and video games allow me to push that whole growing up thing off for a few more hours each time I venture into their digitized worlds.

One thing I don’t do, or at least don’t do very often, is multiplayer.

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Hey kids! Remember this?

Now, to make it clear, I don’t play multiplayer because I don’t like people. I mean, sure, that’s part of it, but I’ve totally got friends (I do, too. Stop looking at me like that. I didn’t make them up). And some of those friends play video games. Some of them even play video games that I play, and more than a few of those games have a multiplayer component. So, theoretically, I could totally engage in multiplayer, and probably not even hear that often how many of my relatives are filthy whores.

But I still avoid the multiplayer realm. There are a couple of reasons behind this.

First off, the time of day that I find myself playing video games isn’t necessarily the most conducive to that type of experience. During normal human waking hours, I’m generally not anywhere near my game systems. I’m socializing. I’m doing things in the real world with real people. I’m spending time with Nugget and watching her practice gang symbols (or whatever it is she’s doing with her hands). But, during the times when normal, productive adult contributors to society are sleeping, that’s when I’m diving into the game worlds. I’ve always been a night person, and, with the rest of the house asleep, I can’t think of a better time to vanquish my enemies.

Secondly, I’ve been playing games since I was a small child. That means that I remember a time when “multiplayer” meant two. And, those two players almost NEVER got to be on the same team. It was competitive. You were set up in one little boxy thing that they tried to tell you was a tank, and you shot smaller boxy things at the other players boxy tank thing. I still remember finding out that Super Mario Brothers had a two-player mode, which was ultimately a lie. You didn’t have two players. You had people taking turns playing a reskinned single player game. Admittedly, this evolution in gaming made it less irritating to have to wait, but it also lead to kids trying to sabotage their friends so that they could get to their turn faster (I mean, I NEVER performed a Purple Nurple just to get Mario to fall down a pit, giving my Luigi a chance to shine). And, naturally, this development also created kids who played in a two-player capacity even though they were alone, just so they could practice the levels more (or, because, well, they didn’t have anyone to play with).

The third, and probably biggest reason I don’t engage in multiplayer gaming is that I’m fairly certain I’d be terrible at it. I mean, I’m not the soldier standing in the corner, spinning in circles and shooting his grenade launcher straight at the ceiling (any more). I just get easily distracted by side objectives. I see a shiny glowy thing off in the corner of the map, and I’m doing everything I can to get my character towards it as quickly as possible. I’m the first to admit that I will try and get a new piece of equipment that my toon can’t even use. And I don’t want to drag the team down. I want my friends to achieve their goals, and to know that it was done through teamwork, not through surviving one person dashing all over the place trying to push every single shiny red button that they can get their hands on (even if it is SO SHINY). And, well, in competitive multiplayer, I want my opponent to know that they had a good challenge through skill, not because they were awesome at playing hide and seek in a video game world.

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I don’t even know why I’m using a hammer to play these games.

That being said, I’m always open to the idea of engaging in multiplayer at some point. At the very least, I’m more than willing to add friends to my Steam account (tcscreamer, yo!) so that I can look at who else is playing games the same time I am. Even if it’s more likely that I’ll just end up playing single player, anyway. And I’m always looking for new game suggestions, so feel free to comment away with those!

I mean, if I wanted to play games with people, there are less frustrating ways to do that. I could play Monopoly.

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