(click “view post” to read more) I am of course referring to my preference of single-player video games over their multi-player counterparts. Any confusion regarding the title is of course due to your own perverse thought process, through no fault of my own. Moving right along…
My first gaming memories, like many people my age, were of button mashing sessions on the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. With a library of just about 800 games, a kid’s cartridge collection was like a fingerprint, no two were alike. Crowd pleasers like Contra, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros could be found often, but oddballs like NARC or Chip and Dale’s Rescue rangers were unique to maybe only one or two other gamers that you knew. Scanning a new friend’s stack of games for the first time was an exciting experience.
From minute one, Nintendo knew that there would be a huge demand for multiplayer gaming. The release of the Nintendo Entertainment System was a revolution, and people wanted to experience it together. Nintendo’s flagship “Super Mario Bros” of course included a turn-based 2-player mode, in which a second player could alternate with you, playing as Luigi (Mario’s slimmer, green capped fraternal twin brother).
I enjoyed gaming with others as a kid, but under a pretty specific set of circumstances. I preferred simultaneous 2-player games, as opposed to taking turns. Back then, games weren’t as theatrical as they are now, and story lines tended to be thin or even nonexistent. For that reason, sitting there and watching somebody else play was about as exciting as watching water boil. So, cooperative games were a must. Secondly, my partner had to be able to hold their own. There was nothing worse than your less-skilled amigo kicking the bucket right before a treacherous boss fight. It was for that reason that my sister and I did not often play Nintendo together (She was really good at most other things, as long as she could come up with a way to cheat). So, as long as I didn’t have to take a break, or carry an incompetent “Player 2” on my coattails, I could tolerate 2-player gaming. As a matter of fact, I have many fond memories of kicking ass in beat em’ up games (Think Double Dragon, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game”) with a co-pilot.
Although an afternoon shooting up bad guys with a buddy was great fun, in my eyes it could never hold a candle to the sense of accomplishment that came with sending Gannon back where he came from with a well timed swing of the magical sword (not yet called the Master Sword) in the original Legend of Zelda. RPG’s had me from hello. If I wasn’t having a particularly pleasant day in this world, I could jump into a more interesting one where I sometimes felt like I had more control over my own destiny. An average kid could be a hero within minutes just by shoving a cartridge into that dull gray box and hitting power. You didn’t have to wait for somebody else to die so that you could get your turn, and you didn’t have to put your fate in the hands of your partner. In retrospect, it might have been a little bit sad, but I preferred, and for the most part, still prefer to play video games by myself.
With the rise of the internet, multiplayer has taken on a new, supercharged role in the evolution of gaming. Killer apps like Halo, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft (which, by the way, happens to be the crystal meth of RPG’s), have taken over, and changed the way that we play forever. If only partially, I jump on the bandwagon as well from time to time. The instant high of getting a kill in COD is particularly intoxicating. With one tap of a button, you know that you outsmarted another living, breathing person out there in god-knows-where. The creators of the series have put great effort into creating a feeling that being good at their game will somehow enrich your life. It never takes long however, for some 12 year old slack-jawed yokel that lives on a farm in Kansas to start babbling into his headset, at which point I get taken completely out of the game, and thrust headfirst back into the reality that I’m trying to escape. I enjoy the absorbed feeling you get when you dive into a fictional world. Games like COD just give you too many reminders that you’re still sitting on your couch in a sometimes unremarkable world.
When people ask me if I picked up the latest smash hit, like Modern Warfare 3, I sometimes feel a little old and out of touch when I admit “No, I’m waiting until I finish the new Zelda game, and then I have the 3DS port of Metroid Prime waiting in the wings.” But you know what? It’s my escape, not yours. You can all go and have yourselves a pisser shooting each other full of holes. “Should I use a red dot, or a holographic? Should I use a heart shaped reticule for a sense of irony? What sort of face paint would compliment my arctic ghillie suit?” Go ahead, pretend you’re a commando, crawling around in the jungle, behind enemy lines, wiping your ass with leaves; it’s your right to play whatever you want.
Me? I don’t have time for that noise. I’ll drink the Kool-Aid and get back into first person shooters eventually I’m sure. But for the time being, there’s a sexy little princess in trouble, and she sure as hell isn’t going to save herself.