Why is online multiplayer considered the end-all for gaming nowadays? Whatever happened to couch play? Are we, as a society, allergic to hanging out with other human beings? The games I’ve had the most fun with have been the ones where my friends and I would sit around the room for hours, passing controllers back and forth and screaming at each other. High school evenings were filled with long sessions of Goldeneye and Mario Kart 64, and I nearly lost my sophomore year of college to Super Smash Bros. The memories I have from these games are more of the people playing them than the games themselves, since the game was really just a way for me to hang out with my friends.
Ever since I was little I was unable to play video games on my own. I either needed someone else to play with or, at the very least, an audience to talk to while I played. My sisters frequently filled this role, squaring off against me in Marble Madness or Mario Kart and watching me play Final Fantasy. I’ve never played Guitar Hero or Rock Band single player, I can’t imagine enjoying it as much.
You lose something magical when you put a game online.
When you remove the person from the room all of my motivation to play that game is gone. Sure, there are headsets, but it’s not the same. I need that person sitting in the room with me to really enjoy the game. You lose something magical when you put a game online, something that can’t be replaced with headsets and chat windows.
Why are so many games nowadays focused on online multiplayer instead of local? I was annoyed when I heard that StarCraft II wouldn’t support LAN play and required you to play through their servers (yes, I know you can still play in the same room but it still discourages it). I know that first-person shooters in particular make sense to play online as split screen admittedly does make the game harder to play and easier to cheat, but I’d *still* rather do that than play online. Split screen > online play because, if nothing else, I get to interact with people.
I do recognise that some games require remote multiplayer. WoW would be pretty lame if everyone had to play in the same room (or maybe it would be extra awesome). But games like Rock Band and Castle Crashers are a million times better when played in the same room as online. Plus, local multiplayer never has ghost town lobbies or lag issues.
WoW would be pretty lame if everyone had to play in the same room (or maybe it would be extra awesome).
When we were making Slam Bolt Scrappers we wanted to make couch play one of our pillars. We wanted to create a game that people could play with their friends for hours while yelling at the TV. Hell, we even put in a beverage mode so people could play with one hand while enjoying a drink. The game is really fun and memorable, of course, but we hope that when people think back to their time playing what they’ll really think of is the crazy stuff their friends did while playing, since that is where the best fun comes from.
Disagree with me? Think I’m totally wrong? Love what I’m saying? Hop in the comments and let me know, I’ll respond. Oh, and be sure to go try out Slam Bolt Scrappers, out with a free demo today on PSN.
Eitan Glinert is the lead designer at Fire Hose Games. The team’s debut effort, the downloadable multiplayer puzzle action game Slam Bolt Scrappers, was released today on the PlayStation 3’s PSN store. Full disclosure: we like Eitan’s game.