As part of the Laurier Pride Society, I’ve been playing a lot of party games with my friends. I’ve also been playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with Laurier’s gaming club and Monster Hunter World with another friend.
Playing games with friends is always a great time for me, even though I usually play single-player games focused on narrative and being something more than disposable art. This isn’t to say multiplayer games can’t do either of these things, they just don’t generally strive to.
While today’s gaming is more geared towards multiplayer and community focused games than ever before, there is also a magic that is lost to time.
This isn’t just a “back in my day” kind of complaint. Plenty of people, with varying ranges of passion in the industry have noted the lack of charm in the community aspect because of a fundamental disconnect made by online play.
Now that everything is on the internet, you can’t really go to class to ask your friend how to beat a level or go to them to trade games as often Not only does this remove the opportunities for personal stories, but it has also led to a simple inability for some games to be local multiplayer. Most games don’t have an option allowing for such a thing anymore due to this shift in the industry.
Even Nintendo has strayed from supporting local multiplayer—for example, even though Super Smash Bros. still has local multiplayer in mind, they overcharge customers for the ability to use online services that aren’t even worth half price. This kills some of the charm.
That said, the internet has still positively impacted the communal aspect of the industry. By nature of communication being easier and more accessible than ever before, many invaluable connections are made through online games. I’ve met almost all of the most important people in my life, at least indirectly due to the industry’s shift.
Local multiplayer still exists in some capacity, such as local Super Smash Bros. tournaments are as common as ever, if not even more so due to the most recent entry being the highest selling game in its series.
Even still, with the industry pushing more online services for absurd prices, that magic has vanished.
The pandemic pushed the industry much further in this direction, but even before, the gaming industry was already well on its way to online multiplayer.
With how horrible stores like Gamestop managed its customer service as well, it’s no wonder consumers want the easier option of staying home to get their games. The charm of local multiplayer can’t really happen as often anymore. That fundamental disconnect of not being around your fellow players having fun together is always looming over any online session.
This disconnect has some damaging consequences. It’s not a secret how toxic some players can be: constant name calling, slur hurling and just generally awful behaviour is an inevitability in parts of any gaming community.
It’s a disgusting part of the community that springs from the lack of face-to-face interaction..
Toxicity only becomes easier without having a face to attach the other player to. This combined with everything else just leads to online play being a massive convenience in some ways, but a serious downgrade in others.