People know I’m a gamer.
I am often asked for my Gamertag and what games I’m currently playing. When I tell these people that I don’t have an Xbox Live Gold account and won’t be able to play whatever game with them, they are shocked. I try to explain this to them and it seems to fall on deaf ears. How could one conceivably have an Xbox and not be playing online?? Here’s the brutal truth of the matter:
I have never been a huge fan of online multiplayer games.
See, I like to win. I also like to think I’m pretty good at video games. As long as I’m playing in single player mode dominating computer controlled opponents, these two facts can come true. I get to believe that I am skilled because of my victory over the system. Beating a game has always felt like an accomplishment to me. For me, as a gamer, it’s about the finality. It’s about the skill and determination that it takes to power through those endgame stages to defeat the final boss. It’s about completing the story then putting the sticks down on that particular game and, if it was good enough, picking the sticks back up and going through it again in a few years after you’ve forgotten at least the fine details of the plot if not what happened entirely.
By playing multiplayer, this entire experience is lost to me. I will (not even might, will) lose. I will be dominated. I will be cussed out by my teammates, scoffed at, and called n00b because I am not nearly as “hardcore” as the people who regularly play the game, nor have I (probably) been playing it since release to know all the places on the maps to hide, all the archetypes that suck, and all the weapons that are considered n00bish in their application. There is no story. There is no completion. There is no sense of satisfaction unless my team wins and, even then, it’s usually a hollow victory because I had little to nothing to do with it.
I also don’t particularly care for the open-chat feature which is almost required by the current generation multiplayer games. I understand it’s an incredibly useful tool for communication, which is key in most multiplayer games, but I also don’t need to be cussed out by a fifteen year old because I’m too much of a n00b who should LTP before he jumps into a room like this, then being summarily removed from said room by its creator, because he thinks I’m too much of a n00b, too.
Sure, skill is key. Do I have it? Not particularly, at least not in FPS (which is the majority of pick-up multiplayer). I am hardly a n00b to its ways and do not like to be thought of as such. I earned my online handle (precizzion) by being one of the baddest-ass FPS snipers out there through my early multiplayer career. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was where I really earned my stripes. Long long ago. You might call me out of date, but I would argue that the only real changes to FPS since then have been the graphics.
My skills have since rusted away, my tastes have changed, and I now prefer the single player missions to the rigors of online multiplayer. Voice chatting was what really did it in for me, honestly. The only game in which I was ever a big talker was World of Warcraft, mostly because I got to know my guildies or I was talking to people I knew in real life. We really talked less about the game and more about everything else, which was fun.
It seems much less appealing when you put forth the prospect of some armchair veteran screaming in your ear about where you should be and where you shouldn’t be in an FPS fight. I don’t enjoy taking orders from anyone, especially some angry douchebag meathead I don’t even know.
I’m sure I’m going to take flak from the gaming community on this one because some of you out there are the armchair veteran angry douchebag meatheads, and that’s actually ok. I don’t care what you are or how you spend your free time, I’m just telling you that I won’t be joining you.
I’m not trying to build any kind of case against you or say that you’re ruining things for everyone, because you’re not. You’re making sure a bunch of schlubs work together as a unit in an environment with which you are intimately familiar. You’re increasing chances of victory. This is not a bad thing. This is the way you gain fulfillment from gaming and, if it works for you, I can’t say you’re wrong.
Multiplayer has a way of connecting people. I still have good friends in Denmark because of the time I’ve spent playing MMOs. The competition, however, has become too much for me and has caused me to quietly retire from the ranks of online players. MMO, FPS, RTS, Rock Band. all of it. I’ve withdrawn because I’ve realized that no matter how good I may be, there will always be someone out there better than me and they will absolutely not hesitate to rub that shit right in my face at the first opportunity. If I’m going to smack talk someone and get smacked back, I’d rather it be with a couple of my friends, in person, at my house than any random dickhead who gets a leg up on me. I’m willing to concede superiority to my friends, but I am certainly not about to let my pride down when it comes to a stranger.
I would rather play Rock Band with my actual “band” in my basement and I would take a split-screened FPS or Co-op game over the online deal any day. Even a nice round of Tiger Woods or Wii Sports in an actual location, with real people, is preferable to any other method of multiplayer gaming.
As a more mature gamer, I don’t have as much time as I would need to devote myself to anything I couldn’t put down right away. There’s the matter of real life that I have to be concerned with. Y’know, work and a wife and RL friends and stuff. I like getting off my couch every once in a while (read: not frequently) and actually spending time interacting with things other than a controller and a headset. I know that, if I allowed myself back into the realm of online multiplayer (MMO or otherwise), I would get just as sucked in as I was during my Warcraft years, and I don’t want that anymore.
At least, not until Diablo III comes out. Then all bets are off.
Keep fighting the good fight.
PS – My Gamertag is precizzion, if you’re interested in being my friend. No, I will (probably) not play with you.