Most of us are old enough to remember when the Commodore 64 first came out followed by the Atari system. The initial reaction to these systems was sheer amazement as we played with our pixels for hours upon hours. Soon we learned how to beat the Artificial Intelligence and the games replay value suffered greatly.
So why do video games become boring or outdated? Obviously a huge factor is technology and graphics, but a stronger component is competition and the ability to adapt. Single player games do not offer the ability to adapt; the artificial intelligence today doesn’t allow for complex strategies or maneuvers to be utilized, but we know who can – Humans! Yes, there is nothing like outthinking, outmaneuvering, besting, owning, fragging, or whatever you want to do, to another living, breathing, frustrated human being.
When you get that kill shot on a computer you know they don’t get emotional, but when you take out a live opponent, you know he/she is slamming their keyboard and possibly ripping out their cable modem (Stracraft comes to mind for this). It is not the mere act of succeeding but rather how hard the success was to obtain. Even killing “newbs” (new players) after a while gets old as you need more of a challenge; you need someone that is adept at thinking on the spot and maneuvering in such ways that the computer or a newb could never achieve. You have now reached a new level of your gaming ability and the only way to grow further as a player is to play the best.
To play the best you will need to play against the world, literally. By playing online users, one can play the best users all across the globe in an effort to test adaptability, focus, reflexes, strategy, and yes digital-courage. It isn’t enough to have competitor A go first, then competitor B go to see who can outscore or time trial the fastest on a map. That is the weakest form of competition as it is not direct. No, you need to play against each other in real time in order to the get the adrenaline rush.
My latest example is the game Joust. This game is old, outdated, crappy graphics, and previously single player. No one really played this game today. That is until it was announced it would become a multiplayer game on the Xbox 360 live. Now you can Joust against others; the game has now evolved from defeating simple AI mechanics to a full blown strategy/reflexes game against the best. This can be seen with PS3 having Mortal Kombat available for online play. This game is very old as well and mostly used for nostalgia until the online component breathed life and competition back into it.
Just what are the advantages to Single Player games than, if any? Well, the technology isn’t that cheap and most can’t afford a PS3 or Xbox 360 plus the Live fee. The advantages are only cost and beginning practice. As the cost gets cheaper the only added benefit one can get from Single Player is map memorization, game mechanics, and the very basics the game has to offer. Most don’t want to play against other opponents till they understand the intricacies of the game, and rightfully so. Single player games are going the way of the Dodo as cheap Online Games take it place. Who would have thought Joust and Mortal Kombat I would be resurrected in 2008, well over a decade after their initial release? Ask you parents to have a kid brother, or go online and experience the wonders of making someone spam you with profanity, or ripping out their modem as you harass them endlessly. Online Games bring out the worst and best of us, while Single Player games just alleviate some boredom. Hell, even Pong can be fun if it’s a nationwide competition. Sending this article to a friend will help them realize to get off their single player RPG kick 😉