The master Bruce Lee said this in his best, most dramatic movie Fists of Fury. In the movie he alluded to the fact that he knew the bad guys were going to jump him once they figured out they could not beat him one on one. I mention it here today to spotlight the difference between how we all used to play video games and how we can choose to play now.
1:49 for the famous quote
The systems of old catered to solitude: one player, one game. What could be more satisfying than that? A person would pick up a title, pop it into whichever system they had at the time and spend many hours just being completely amused by this new form of entertainment. We’ve all been there; that game that just had us caught in the thralls of pure enjoyment, causing other more important things to be pushed further and further into the background, like sleeping, working, or your child’s nutritional needs.
Times change as does technology and with that, the experience becomes a little different. With the advent of two-player games, the possibility of knowing more people who share our common interest grows more and more. No longer does your friend have to sit and watch you play until your character dies in order to partake in the same game as you. Split-screen adventure games begin to emerge and now virtual conquest becomes a team sport; even if it’s only a team of two. You’re not the lone wolf on the battlefield anymore, John Rambo. Now you’re doing flips and jumping over crevices with a partner above or below you in the jungle.
Arcades were at one time the only place a non-industry person could witness what we like to now call ‘next –gen’ entertainment. I remember the first time I could realize the need and the potential for four players on the screen simultaneously outside of a sports game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Four turtles, four players… all at the same time. For the first time we have a situation where the other player’s performance actually makes a difference to yours, so it makes sense to care about player three and four’s performance.
Remember when the phrase ‘Turtle Power’ wasn’t corny? Me neither…
The multiplayer aspect of gaming was lost to me until I went online for the first time and played Burnout: Paradise City. This was a whole new way of playing where complete strangers from around the world could crash into and talk trash to each other in a virtual environment. After a while of steady playing I met six other people that are the closest anyone could possibly be to me. I mean Germany, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Florida… none of which I met face to face (until Skype, that is) and all of us working together to finish challenges, race with each other, or just talk garbage and make each other laugh.
Take me down to the Paradise City…
The team aspect has never been made more apparent to me than in Battlefield 3 in which every member of the team has a job to do and in team conquest the team that does their job the most consistently wins the match. Who cares if your team has four people who get twenty kills each? My team has six people who continually take objectives and revive fallen soldiers. If you ever played it than you know which side is going to win the game. It’s the selfish ‘Army of One’ types that lose a match for you because they are worried too much about their kill/death ratio and too little about how many points the team is winning or losing by.
The Lone Wolf fantasy
Games have come a long way, and in a way it is a fight. Human versus machine; developer versus the player… we all are trying to make one thing happen while this virtual landscape is trying to make something else occur. The question that I ask you now is how do want to get down? I can fight pretty well by myself, but it’s a hell of a lot more satisfying when my team pulls off a come from behind victory. A team win is infinitely more glorious… so let me know when you’re ready, I got your back!