Most of us are old enough to remember when the Commodore 64 came out followed by the Atari system. The initial reaction to these systems was one of awe as we played with our pixels for hours on end. We soon learned how to beat Artificial Intelligence and the replay value of games suffered greatly.
So why do video games get boring or outdated? Obviously, an important factor is technology and graphics, but a stronger component is competition and adaptability. Single player games do not offer the ability to adapt; Today’s artificial intelligence does not allow complex strategies or maneuvers to be used, but we know who can do it: humans! Yes, there is nothing like thinking, maneuvering, overcoming, possessing, fragmenting or whatever you want to do in front of another living, breathing and frustrated human being.
When you get that fatal shot on a computer, you know they don’t get excited, but when you take out an opponent live, you know they’re hitting their keyboard and possibly ripping off their cable modem (Stracraft comes to mind for this). It is not the mere act of being successful, but how difficult it was to achieve success. Even killing “newbies” (new players) after a while gets old as you need more challenges; you need someone who is adept at thinking of the place and maneuvering in such a way that the computer or a newbie could never pull it off. Now you have reached a new level in your playability and the only way to grow more as a player is to play your best.
To play in the best way, you will have to play against the world, literally. By playing with users online, one can play with the best users from around the world in an effort to test adaptability, focus, reflexes, strategy, and yes, digital courage. It is not enough for competitor A to go first, then competitor B to go to see who can out-score or time-trial the fastest on a map. That is the weakest form of competition, as it is not direct. No, they need to play against each other in real time to get the adrenaline rush.
My latest example is the Joust game. This game is old, outdated, crappy graphics, and previously single player. No one actually played this game today. That is until it was announced that it would become a multiplayer game on Xbox 360 live. Now you can Joust against others; The game has now evolved from defeating simple AI mechanics to a full strategy / reflex game against the best. This can be seen with PS3 that has Mortal Kombat available to play online. This game is also very old and used mainly for nostalgia until the online component gave it life and competition.
What are the advantages of single player games, 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 the cost and the initial practice. As the cost gets cheaper, the only additional benefit that can be gained from a player is map memorization, game mechanics, and the basics that the game has to offer. Most UFA don’t want to play against other opponents until they understand the intricacies of the game, and for good reason. Single player games go the way of the Dodo, as cheap online games do. Who would have thought that Joust and Mortal Kombat I would be resurrected in 2008, more than a decade after their initial release? Ask your parents to have a younger sibling, or go online and experience the wonders of having someone spam you with profanity or booting up your modem while harassing you incessantly. Online games bring out the worst and best in us, while single-player games simply alleviate boredom. Hell, even Pong can be fun if it’s a nationwide competition. Sending this article to a friend will help you figure out how to get out of your single player RPG;)