I Work Alone

August 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

As popular as party games are, and as widespread as online gaming currently is, I still spend 90% of my gaming time going it alone. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is true of everyone, but for me it can definitely prove troublesome, especially with friends as great as mine (though your mileage may vary).

Why can’t I bring myself to game more socially? Multiplayer games are a seemingly easy option, offering everyone the chance to play simultaneously. You can live the life of a Fisher Price rockstar or topple Book Blox, but these are shallow experiences for me, based on quick thrills that can’t entertain for more than a couple of hours at a time.

Single player games can more easily scratch this itch, but they do so at the expense of group play. It’s easy enough to pass the controller round to take it in turns, but when there’s a lot at stake – such as in Fallout 3 where death can send you back a good distance to your last save – it becomes harder to hand over control. You’re sacrifice might not even be rewarded, as playing a small portion of the middle of a game means your friend will miss the all important difficulty curve entirely.

Most readers should be screaming at this point about co-op, and I’ll agree that this is without question the best way to play with friends. It promises the best of both worlds, the companionship of multiplayer, and the story driven experience of single player. Gears of War 2? Yes please! Timesplitters? Yes again! With these experiences being as fun as they are, it seems strange that they’re so hard to come by. A tiny proportion of games released have any co-op mode at all, and a smaller still proportion are games you actually want to spend time with.

Weirdly enough my solution to the problem is actually single player games. The best gaming experience I’ve ever had was playing Shadow of the Colossus, and for all intents and purposes, it was a co-op one. Both of us played the tutorial to ensure we knew the score, and we then took the rest of the game in turns, backseat gaming when possible to help things along.

This couldn’t have happened with more people, nor if we hadn’t been completely into what we were doing, but it was amazing to be able to share that game with someone else for its entirety.

Honestly, if I could, I’d game like that all the time.

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