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Why is Multiplayer so Popular: Take up the Gaming Gauntlet!

Paola_Bassanese_itcher_contributorDo you play solo or do you prefer to interact with other gamers? Our writers James and Zoey argue for and against multiplayer gaming. Which side will you take? ~ Paola Bassanese
Challengers: James Brindley & Zoey Hughes
James-Brindley-authorJames Brindley, gamer, publisher and contributor for itcher magazine.

James enjoys beating the competition, and the more competitors the better, as long as he remains the ruler of the Universe.

Zoey HughesZoey Hughes, gaming enthusiast and a contributor for itcher magazine.

Zoey doesn’t like any inane chat.
Her no-nonsense approach is to go straight in and apply a laser focus to her game.

Moderator: Paola Bassanese

Paola-Bassanese-author

Hi, I’m Paola and I’ll be moderating this gaming gauntlet take up between two of our writers. If you have read my previous article on gaming, I’m one of those nostalgic creatures who enjoyed playing in the arcades back in the day. Zoey brought me back to the 21st century with her argument that home entertainment rocks.

And now, another duet (or should I call it a duel?). We have two “fighters in the ring”: in the blue corner is James, who will defend his multiplayer title; in the red corner is Zoey, who wants to destroy the concept of multiplayer.

***

ZOEY’S ARGUMENT

Here’s Zoey’s argument to annihilate multipayer gaming completely.

Zoey Hughes

Why is Multiplayer so Popular?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like multiplayer. There are of course exceptions, but as a general rule it just doesn’t work for me.

You Can’t Escape From it

In the days before Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network there were few multiplayer games.

Not everyone was online so most of it was in the form of LAN parties and split-screens. This meant that if a game contained multiplayer elements it was well thought-out and laboured over for a long period of time. There was no point in just tacking on a multiplayer mode, it had to be a significant selling point to make it worth the time and effort required to make it.

Unfortunately that changed with online services becoming the norm. Games desperate to appeal to the widest demographic started throwing in lack-lustre dull as dishwater multiplayer modes in games that frankly needed it like a hole in the head.

Personal annoyances of mine include the multiplayer in The Darkness and Dark Sector; both thoroughly enjoyable mid-tier games that attempted to add longevity and appeal by adding terrible multiplayer experiences with no character, gameplay that didn’t really agree with the single player mode and maps so dull in both visuals and layout that I just couldn’t stomach them.

***

Where’s that Mute Button?!

One of the major disadvantages of online multiplayer games is the company you’re forced to keep.

When multiplayer was something you did solely with your friends or at competitions the chat was in an expected tone, and if someone annoyed you you could always tell them to go home.

This is a luxury that no longer exists for the modern-day gamer.

…There’s no magic button to stop the idiotic play antics you’ll be faced with…

Now annoying people the world over can join your game, and at least half of them seem to be people below the required age to play the game in question. They munch loudly, they shout abuse and, possibly the most annoying thing of all, they leave their mic on so you too can hear their mum hoovering and the kids crying.

Why can’t they be considerate?

Of course you can mute these terrors if you’re quick enough between rounds (try in the round and you’ll be killed a dozen times over) but there’s no magic button to stop the idiotic play antics you’ll be faced with.

***

The Terrors you’ll Face

There are many types of multiplayer gamer and most of them do my head in. Above all, they are why I hate online multiplayer.

The Expert

Although sometimes avoided by games pairing you according to your rank, mere days after a game comes out there will be a large amount of people who do nothing but play multiplayer modes who have already mastered the game.

They have unlocked all the perks, they’ve learnt the maps and they will not hesitate to mop the floor with you time and time again. Spawn, get headshot, respawn. It’s an endless cycle that does everybody’s head in (no pun intended) and is no fun at all for those stuck in the cycle.

The Clan

Even worse than one expert is a whole clan of them who are simply using you as target practice before their next big tournament.

You’ll feel like a third wheel if you get caught up between two clans and you won’t survive a second against their patented team manoeuvres they’ve practiced a thousand times over.

The Spammer

The spammer finds one trick that is completely debilitating and uses it to death. You’re paralysed by a single move that you use sparingly and they use every few seconds.

Waiting for the move to wear off feels like an age in the fast paced world of multiplayer and drives me nuts, especially in one of the few multiplayer games I do play – Assassin’s Creed.

The Camper

Rarely seen these days, and even more rarely tolerated, the camper drives people crazy by staying in one particular prime spot. You go to retrieve an awesome weapon and he’s there, you respawn and try again, he’s still there… so aggravating and not at all in the spirit of good competition.

***

Why Even Bother?

Despite gameplay usually not being restricted that way I want to play multiplayer games in the same style as in the single player modes.

If it’s a stealth game I want to assassinate silently, if it’s a tactical game I want to sabotage things.

Unfortunately this view just isn’t as common as it should be and regardless of what type of game you play 90% of the multiplayer games end up being simple run and gun free-for-alls.

If you make every multiplayer game the same why bother playing more than one game at all?

Play With Friends

Of course some of you will be mentally yelling at me to just have a private game with friends, but the truth is I don’t like that either anymore. My competitive side is immense and as such I can’t get any enjoyment out of playing against friends and I am too busy working hard to ensure my victory.

The tension and the arguments just aren’t worth it and so friends have become simply for co-op.

***

Zoey’s Verdict

Multiplayer was a real joy once upon a time.

An evening in with mates, all of which lugged their consoles and mini-TVs round, learning the maps together and using under-handed sneaky moves to finally show your boyfriend who’s boss. That seems such a far cry from today’s multiplayer scenarios.

Not every game needs a multiplayer mode and restrictions need to be put in place to keep the essence of the game from being discarded and the same old frag-fest from occurring.

Until that happens, you’ll rarely see me in a social gaming scenario.

Paola-Bassanese-authorOohh… Zoey the silent assassin! You’re a lone ranger who likes to keep her cards close to her chest. You make a very good argument – too many interruptions can really spoil the gaming fun. Let’s see what James has to say.

***

JAMES’ ARGUMENT

Here’s James’ argument to safeguard multiplayer against the ravages of Zoey.

James-Brindley-author

Why is Multiplayer so Popular?

Though I often play games just for the single-player, I couldn’t consider myself a true gamer if I didn’t love multiplayer.

You Choose What To Play

In recent years, multiplayer games have become much more widespread, which is excellent for a couple of reasons, other than the fact that increased game numbers are scientifically proven to be linked to increased happiness in yours truly:

The increased competition within the industry means that substandard games are quickly abandoned in favour of other, more interesting titles.

The sheer variety of multiplayer out there means that if one game doesn’t suit you, then you can simply try another.

That being said, I cannot disagree with you that there are games out there that shouldn’t have bothered with multiplayer. Farcry 3 is an example, with truly terrible, bland, CoD style competitive modes.

However, there are a ton of games (some popular, some indie) that have excellent multiplayer.

One thing that you did touch on was longevity; and this is one of the greatest advantages of online multiplayer games today.

With multiplayer, a game can last years, and to be honest, if you for some reason take issue with new games, look to older games that still have a fanbase. For example, some of my recent enjoyable gaming sessions have been spent on Quake Arena, a game that was released in 1999!

***

The Sound of Silence

Games have evolved since the primordial soup of 6th and 7th generation consoles, and with this evolution has come a marked refinement of the features of online gaming.

Whereas there was indeed a brief but painful time in which the pre-pubescent hordes could invade your game unchallenged, in the past few years, gaming companies have given increased control to players.

If it is in fact your game, you can make the lobby private or kick people at will.

Age of players will always be an issue in most of the more mainstream online games like Call of Duty, but for a long time now most games have extensive mute blanketing on chat; this means that by default all open chat is muted.

If this is not the case, then it is advisable to simply mute all people at the beginning of the game, something that takes seconds, or life-hack by creating an empty chat group, thereby leaving you in peace.

***

Annihilate the Opposition

As you said, there are many types of gamer. However, all of them have a weakness, or you can avoid succumbing to rage-fests by adopting a certain mind-set.

The Expert / The Clan

Truly more powerful opponents are usually blocked by skill-matching in modern games. However, it is likely that some will slip through the cracks like the freakin’ ninjas they are, especially if they are not a higher rank and they are just more skilled.

Nevertheless, if you consider yourself competitive, then there is sadly no greater way of getting better than being used to wipe the floor by a more skilled opponent; if you are unwilling to break the curse of the Casual by practising, then you can still avoid their default deathmatch stomping grounds by joining a more relaxed game type.

The Spammer

There are always always always counters to any given move or strategy. The Spammer is the noob’s bane, but it is usually fairly simple to destroy them, since most people who spam simply either don’t know better, or are using such monotonous tactics to farm unskilled players like cash crops.

Playing Assassin’s Creed and getting perma-stunned by that annoying target of yours? Stay silent, stay hidden, and shank the bastard when he least expects it.

Some crazy guy messing around with heavy ordinance like a redneck at a fireworks display? Change some perks around, get some explosive resistance and laugh as his grenades tickle you.

You get the idea.

The Camper

Let me just start by saying that in a few cases, “camping” can actually be a legitimate and rewarding tactic in games.

However, it can be annoying on smaller arenas.

Camping is old and repetitive problem, but one that I actually enjoy dealing with. My competitive nature drives me to deal with anyone who chooses this path in multiplayer, particularly on games such as Halo or Battlefield.

In almost all cases, you have two options to prevent campers from ruining your day:

One option is to simply avoid the stationary threat, moving to other areas of the arena.

Another (and my preferred choice of action) is to take your repeated predation as a challenge. Since the preferred weapon of most campers is something long ranged and powerful, I tend to go Splinter Cell on the tunnel-visioning player, sneaking behind him and interrupting his snipe-fest with a short, sharp reversal of head direction, something that can be unbelievably satisfying for a victim of camping.

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, or you lack training in the way of the ninja, then your only option is to take off and nuke the site from orbit.

After all, it’s the only way to be sure.

***

If You Can’t Find Something…..You’re Not Looking Hard Enough

With so many different games out there in so many different styles, it is simply a matter of finding the right choice for you- sometimes it is as simple as playing a different game mode.

Want to be stealthy? Tom Clancy games tend to have that twist, and the Payday franchise replicates high tension heists perfectly.

Want to be part of an epic conflict? Try the Battlefield series.

Light hearted and amusing gaming session needed? Try games like Lethal League and SpeedRunners.

***

It’s a Matter of Attitude

One of the main problems with your multiplayer experience seems to be that you have a sort of split-personality when it comes to games, something that at times most gamers experience.

On one hand, you feel too competitive to play with friends, but you also are not willing to play online multiplayer against random people.

I am very lucky to have a bunch of gaming friends that have different attitudes to gaming, from the uber-casual, all the way to my best friend and gaming partner who would quite happily kneecap me during a session if it meant getting in the lead.

A lot of the time, balance needs to be achieved between high-octane face-offs and chilled out bromance lobbies. I play a ridiculous amount of multiplayer, but even I realise that if I start seeing my friends as targets in the real world, it’s time to take a break from deathmatches and move back towards Garry’s Mod and Halo 3 co-op missions.

***

Some Fun Online Multiplayer Games

If for some reason you are having difficulty in finding the right title for you, then I am quite happy to recommend you some games that have given me good times.

ShootersBattlefield 4, Halo 4, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty: Black Ops
RacingNeed for Speed: Most Wanted, DiRT.
Arcade/PlatformerLethal League, Speedrunners, Little Big Planet 2, Battleblock Theatre
Co-op/VsPayday 2, Left for Dead 2, Evolve, Tom Clancy’s Siege
StealthyAssassins Creed IV: Black Flag, Splinter Cell Series
Open WorldGTA V, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption
Custom Games FunHalo Reach, Garry’s Mod, Minecraft

***

James’ Verdict

Online multiplayer is better than it ever was. The wide options for playing and multitude of modes available in today’s games give modern titles massive lifespans, and security measures mean that you can keep control of your experience.

The connectivity of multiplayer nowadays means that regardless of where your buddies are, you can connect almost immediately, allowing you to play whenever you want, regardless of distance from your friends.

The key thing to remember is that the variety seen in today’s multiplayer scene is a wonderful, rich and spongy safety net. If you are contemplating how to break your controller or keyboard over some irritating opponent’s head, whether friend or stranger, and that doesn’t motivate you to be better at the game, then you should know that it is time to break into hysterics over a stupid custom game mode or multiplayer situation instead.

Because it’s hard to be angry at your friends when you’re giggling like a schoolgirl.

***

Paola-Bassanese-authorAnd that was a great wrap-up from James, with plenty of hacks on how to get round those annoying gamers who should know better. James, you seem to have found how to enjoy the best of both worlds: you found a good team of like-minded players for a superb gaming experience.

***

And the Winner Is…

Overall verdict: Multiplayer Games- Yay or Nay?

If that was just me playing, I would say nay just because I would find too many interruptions to spoil the fun.

However, I can really see the points that James made and he went the extra mile to come up with fixes and games suggestions.

Therefore, thinking about all of you gorgeous itcher magazine readers, the final verdict is: yay to multiplayer.

Wanna have your say?

Add your views in the comments – what are your favourite multiplayer games?

Or do you prefer to go solo like Zoey?

I am Paola Bassanese, and I love twitter – I think in slogans! I am a contributing author at itcher mag covering mainly quirky movies that I like and that I hope you′ll like too. [n-e-x-t] I have written a few books including The Foraging Home Cook, and also write about health and lifestyle for the Huffington Post. I consider myself to be a Londoner even though I was born in Italy. I love 80s music and foreign language films, but I also enjoy going to the opera and ballet.
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