Long past the point

At what point did playing videogames become purely an exclusionary activity?

I know what you’re thinking: Get a Wii U. Well, I have one. But sometimes, I want to play the big boy games with some friends. It’s true that there are a few examples still kicking around where I can play with a friend. But the number of those types of games seems to be shrinking with every new generation of console and with each new game.

Now, I can appreciate that some games just don’t lend themselves to co-op. I’m not asking all developers to add in a multi-player. Frankly, most of the multi-player experiences are pretty lackluster to begin with. But games like Evolve are just begging to be played on the couch with some friends.

To a lesser extent, even games like Assassin’s Creed: Unity could be a lot of fun with someone next to you. I find that most people, playing online co-op, tend not to use their headsets, or just straight up don’t have them. Pulling a heist, planning a strategy, those are the fun things to do online. Having someone sit next to you so you can plan strikes with real precision, that’s what makes co-op fun.

I find online that most people don’t have or don’t use headsets. I’m definitely guilty of it. Since people seem to only, and I know this is somewhat of a generalisation, use their headsets to communicate insults and boasting – it’s a futile endeavour.

I guess I feel a little bit of nostalgia for the good times I had playing games as a kid. Where playing stuff like Contra with a friend meant victory instead of dying alone. Not to say we didn’t die, because we did, but man was it fun going through that with someone else.

Is it just the model of games that’s changed or is it the gamers? I know that as we get older, finding time with friends gets harder because of real-life commitments – kids, work and the like.

There are still a handful of split screen games, for which Nintendo doesn’t hold the rights. Borderlands is a great example. Is there a reason people prefer the online co-op to couch? Or has the industry got wind of the fact that their demographic is aging, and just doesn’t have the time or desire to play with real people?

Obviously, the majority of my exposure to couch co-op in the last few years has been with the Wii/Wii U and my wife. And, frankly, it hasn’t always worked out all that well…

I’d say it’s a safe bet that after money and infidelity that Mario games are the third leading cause of divorce in North America. If I had a nickel for every time that my wife blue-shelled me and laughed in my face, or jumped off of my head and sent Mario into a pit – I’d be able to build a house out of stacks of one-hundred dollar bills. As someone who plays videogames for leisure and (effectively) for work – playing with someone at a different skill level can be trying. Especially when it ends with you dying.

Maybe the adult consoles have come to a similar conclusion to mine. Maybe they’re trying to prevent more acrimony in the homestead. Well, I think it’s safe to say that’s likely not the case. If anything, I could see it being a way for them to sell double the consoles. But I digress.

I guess it just doesn’t make sense to add it into games any more. The market probably isn’t there. To be fair, I don’t see people clamouring to get more couch co-op games either. But it’s those times when you have someone over and you want to show someone how cool it is, but are only able to do show and tell. And as all gamers know, watching someone play a game is really boring.

It hits now and again. Nostalgia for NES. It’ll pass.

– The Ego


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