Video games and the internet go hand in hand; it’s hard now to imagine a shooting game without a comprehensive multiplayer, the fact most people bypass the single player just to go and shoot their fellow man without remorse is proof of that.
But you don’t need me to tell you that it wasn’t always like this. Indeed, DLC (Downloadable Content), online updates and sixteen player team death matches are all fairly new introductions to the gaming world, and they’re really great additions right? I mean, it’s all downloadable sunshine and explosive rainbows now right?
Well you know I wouldn’t be writing this if it were.
You see, recently I’ve found myself reminiscing recently about what it used to be like.
The idea of playing with people from across the world is amazing, really it is. The idea that you can throw a grenade and blow up guys from France, Australia and America simultaneously is a real testament to human progress. But the anonymity isn’t always great; people rage quit because of the smallest things and kids half your age explain their night time exploits with your mother.
When I first started playing games with my friends, all huddled around a four way split screen, quitting wasn’t an option, lest you get hated on by your best friends, and if you badmouthed the host’s mum she’d hear you, so that was a total no go.
It was a much more wholesome time, if you forget that one person who always picked Oddjob because he was shorter and harder to hit.
And it’s not just multiplayer that’s changed. Single players are easier nowadays. Not because games themselves are less difficult but because of the ease of access to online guides, walkthroughs and hints.
Sure way back when you could buy a walkthrough from a store, but not only were they pricey, but buying one was admitting defeat. If your friends came over and saw the A-Z of Ocarina of Time they knew you’d thrown in the towel at the Water Temple. But now, only a few clicks stand between you and a clear internet history.
Remember when you used to gather together in the playground and discuss the hardest levels, or all those virtual myths? Like the myth that said you could find bigfoot in San Andreas, or that bloody Temple based in the Water.
I’ve made some of my best friends through these joint efforts; collecting tricky Spyro eggs, passing the controller around to beat each others’ Tony Hawk scores, or getting past that Water themed Temple.
Once or twice I fell victim to looking at the ending for a game on Youtube, only to find that, because I knew what was coming, I didn’t have the enthusiasm to then finish the game. I realise that’s more my fault than anyone else’s but still, it never happened when I was trying to get past that freaking Water Temple.
And the games themselves also suffer from the Internet’s influence.
Back when you played a game on a cartridge, or when you didn’t need a wireless connection to get the most of a console, games had to be finished. They had to work before they went out on shelves. If there was a buggy level or a mission that didn’t complete properly, there would be absolute hell to pay! But now if an NPC’s eyes explode, or a quest can’t be finished because of a faulty vault, developers can just apologise and fling out a patch. Sure it might fix the issue but come on guys, don’t make me pay for an unfinished game.
Now I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t appreciate the Internet, my work wouldn’t be being read if it weren’t for it, and I wouldn’t have had some of the best gaming moments of my life if I couldn’t connect to a Canuck.
Basically, what I’m saying, if I’m saying anything at all, is this; there’s nothing wrong with gaming in the same room and think twice before you go online for a video guide.