The Two-Player Experience
I recently had one of my childhood friends that I used to spend immense amounts of time with reach out and comment on one of the community posts on the site. His comment invoked a severe sense of nostalgia, and that’s part of why I want to create what I am creating right now. I really want to get after the community aspect of gamers in general, and while I know I branded the community for “Busy” gamers, I am hoping many will come here to seek refuge, and share their love for gaming with everyone else.
As the world develops, and technology rises, we are beginning to pull away from social aspects in all reaches of life. The digital age is is washing over our lives, and flooding us with instant communication between individuals without ever having to step a foot outside his or her own home. You cannot even spend the first five minutes of your life, without somehow being digitally assaulted, whether by cell phone alarm/notification, voice activated home devices, “smart” utilities, or social media absorption.
My generation of gamers is unique. Most busy gamers (I know not all) are probably cut around about the same cloth I am when it comes to age group, and during our childhood we went to a friend’s house to enjoy a mutual cooperative experience. Two-player games during the infancy of my gamerhood were absolute blasts, and I would waste hours upon hours of my day with a friend or friends, playing something like Twisted Metal on split screen in our bedrooms. That’s gone now.
You see, publishers these days care about the almighty dollar. If you do not fully understand the ecosystem of game development, most video games (not all) are made by a studio, and funded by a publisher, or parent company. While a lot of publishers probably do care about gaming, most of them are ran by individuals who know nothing about gaming – why does that matter you wonder? Well they are the reasons (and parent companies/stockholders) that micro-transactions exist, or that things such as split screen co-op are a thing of the past. Developer studios are very passionate about gaming – you will find if you ask most developers that they can work upwards of 80 hours a week or more, shunning family and friends, crunching on a game of passion. With publishers and parent companies siphoning the budget to a developer studio, they ultimately have control over what makes it into a game, what doesn’t, and can even cause a studio to release a game far before it’s even ready.
Local CO-OP and LAN (local area network) play is one of those features that regularly never receive development funding, and if you look back the pedigree of gaming for the last decade you’ll see that many games that would really benefit from a couch focused, buddy by buddy gaming experience, never get it, even though it’s literally begged for by a community starved of it. But why?
The digital, social media driven, online focused lifestyles that we’ve all taken on, have peeled away the stakeholders, they feel like couch CO-OP and LAN are wastes of budget. Why spend money to create something that is easily taken care of by online features? If Bob can get on Playstation Network and play something with their friend in literally 30 seconds, why bother creating something that would require two humans to sit next to each other and engage in a social gaming experience? For example, look at games like God of War, or The Last of Us – I’m sure these two blockbuster, amazing games did not feel the need for a couch CO-OP experience – but let me tell you – in the last few years, I have sat down and watched a person or two play these games, and thought, “Damn, wouldn’t it be awesome to hop in and play with them”, and it’s games like these that would be so ripe to accomplish this. Both games have an accompanying AI partner, both games have a rich story driven experience. Television screens are getting so big these days, split screen should not be so much of an issue like it used to be.
That leads me to the final archaic piece of gaming history that hasn’t completely died out, but is dwindling down, and becoming a thing of the past. You see when I was a child, my childhood friend’s dad owned a business. At this business he had a network of computers, all hooked up throughout the building. On these computers was Quake – and they were connected by LAN. What is LAN? Local area network. Think “personal internet” between a set amount of computers near each other, connected by wire. As the reader you’re probably thinking, “Well isn’t that what the internet does?” Well – yes, it kind of does, but you’re missing the important piece, these people were all in the same building together, socially interacted with one another. When someone was playing really well and killing everyone else a lot, you could talk crap in person, or engage in an actual personal conversation. Asking the question, “Doesn’t the internet do that already?” proves my final point.
The digital age, while creating a monumental amount of possibilities for us, is crippling our society, our children, hell even me. I had the social gaming aspects as a child, but during my teenage years I became a recluse of the gaming age, as online took over, and meeting with friends fizzled out, I’ve come to find my “online friends” move on, and our connections seemed quite fragile. We need to resuscitate the couch CO-OP experience, far too many great games are coming out with a potential of creating a great social meetup opportunity, but get crushed out for online features, and requiring two different consoles to even play together. Revive. This. Dinosaur. It should come back as a standard feature, not a gold tinted relic once in a blue moon.