Editorial: The Social Aspect of Gaming

Hello again, Lusiprites! Slab Bulkhead here, this time to talk about being social! While many video games have only a single-player mode, games often include multiplayer modes. But, in order to play using a game’s multiplayer mode, one must first have (gasp) friends! Go on, acquire some friends. I shall wait. All right. Did you find some friends? Good! There are three basic types of multiplayer gaming, and each has its own unique way of providing social interaction. These ways to play are: connecting to other players using the internet, a Local Area Network connection between nearby consoles, and split-screen play using a single console.

Nah, it should be fine. What is there to worry about? Oh, no, frag grenade!
Hey Carl, do you think we should, uh, split the screen in case things go wrong and we have to go different ways?

Out of the three types of multiplayer games, the most common is the online game. Online games include Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games, first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, and many other genres. These games become social games easily and quickly because people flock to websites that have forums in order to discuss them. Communities quickly build with a focus on a specific game or series of games. I personally began my career on the internet as a moderator for a website that focused on competitive Pokémon. Though we grew older, we are still close friends, and to this day still enjoy Pokémon and battle each other occasionally.

Communities focused on online gaming can often develop into more general communities where members can get to know one another on a personal level. I think that it is a positive experience to add people from all over the world to a close circle of friends. It promotes global togetherness, and it is always wonderful to have more friends. It is also good for someone in isolation from the world, like people who live in rural areas, to have social experiences that do not require them to travel long distances. Often, people who are members of a large online community will gather in cities for game tournaments, some officially sponsored by the companies who created the games. This is a fun way for people who know each other only through the internet to meet in real life, hang out, and have a chance at some very real prizes, such as cash and free games.

However, do not expect to do anything, even eat, for the weeks that you are playing it.
Civilization is a fun game to play with friends.

Local Area Network (or LAN) play is a more personal way to play video games with friends. Most games that support online play also support LAN play. Generally, people playing via LAN are in the same room with their screens facing in such a way that peeking at another’s location or progress is discouraged or impossible. LAN is particularly enjoyable because all of one’s taunts, jeers, and shouts of encouragement can be heard by one’s allies and opponents. LAN play is often used for tournaments, like the ones I mentioned earlier. Another popular event, especially on college campuses, is the LAN party. People get together to play games such as Halo and Left 4 Dead with friends, both cooperatively and competitively. LAN parties almost never gain prizes for the winners, and unlike officially sponsored tournaments, players often are asked to provide their own copies of the games that are to be played, systems, controllers, or television sets. However, sometimes event organizers provide these things, and they also sometimes provide food and refreshments.

Finally, I come to the splitscreen form of multiplayer gaming. Mainly available in first-person shooters, splitscreen is perhaps the least popular of the three major ways to play multiplayer games. It works as its name suggests; players share the same game console while the screen is split to show each of their interfaces separately. There are two major disadvantages to this. The first is the limitation that is placed on the view of all players involved. In order to split the screen vertically, the players are forced to sacrifice their horizontal peripheral vision, which is very inconvenient when playing a first-person shooting game. In order to split the screen horizontally, the players are forced to sacrifice their vertical peripheral vision. Though not as difficult to overcome as the loss of horizontal peripheral vision, it is still undesirable. The second major disadvantage to splitscreen play is that when players are competing against each other, they are easily able to spy on the location and actions of their opponent. As I found out while playing against a friend of mine, this is incredibly frustrating, especially since my friend is much better at Call of Duty than I.

Of the three, it is difficult for me to pick a favorite. The most that I can say is that I dislike splitscreen play because it limits my ability to play games properly. What about you, readers? Which is your favorite? If you do not like any of these game types, are you a loner? Do you still have no friends? Or do you still simply prefer to play alone?

2 comments

  1. I actually love split-screen gaming. But that’s only because it’s such a tradition between me and my circle of friends, and it has been since the original Modern Warfare came out. It’s definitely frustrating if you’re a noob, but if you get a group of four people of equal skills together, it can be a lot of fun.

    Or it is for me, at least.

    Also, one of the greatest thing about Black Ops is that it has split-screen competitive online play. Meaning, you and a couch buddy can play online. It’s great. Oh, and don’t forget about split-screen Nazi Zombies. I’ve spent more hours on that than I care to admit. I also have no idea how to estimate it.

    I’ve never played in a LAN party, or anything similar. Someday, hopefully…

  2. I used to do LAN parties every weekend when I lived in Central Oregon. A lot of really good memories involved there. Online gaming is not the same because people feel like they can get away with saying a lot more when they are not within arm’s reach. and before internet was practically pre-installed in every household, my brothers and I played a lot of split screen gaming. Hours lost into Goldeneye and similar titles. I have to say that it is just not as much fun when the people aren’t in the room with you, laughing and spilling drinks with tempers running high during the game and instantly disappearing as soon as the match is over. Long live LANs!

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