Video Games: Then and Now

N64 NostalgiaIn the last few years I’ve noticed something astonishing about the world of video games.  Nobody plays together anymore.  And no, I’m not talking about online.  I’m talking about playing a game together in the same room.  What happened to the days where we’d sit next to our friends and beat the crap out of each other in Super Smash Bros?  Hell, even five years a go it wouldn’t be uncommon to have a Halo LAN party at a friends house.  But, times have changed in the social world of video games and online gameplay has officially taken over.

Let me begin by addressing what I mean by “then.”  “Then” simply refers to the era of video games dominated by multiplayer games on consoles like the N64.  I’m talking about games like Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 64, etc.  All of these games have one thing in common and that is an extremely fun multiplayer element.  Let’s be honest.  None of the aforementioned games are much fun to play alone, which is what makes them so special.  You have to be with other people in order to experience each game to its fullest potential.  Nintendo has always been about the social element of gaming and I — as a kid who grew up playing N64 in the 90s — have adopted that mentality as a gamer.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally feel much more fulfilled socially when playing Wii with a group of friends than I do playing any game on Xbox Live by myself.  We are inherently social creatures and when we are with other people in close proximity it fulfills that element of our lives in a way that talking to someone over an internet connection simply cannot do.  That being said, let’s dive into video games in the “now.”

The “now” era of video games is one in which online gameplay has become the staple of the industry.  Just look at which franchise sells the most games on PS3 and Xbox 360.  Not sure?  Try Call of Duty.  It’s sad to say, but we all know that no one buys these games for the story.  It’s all about the online multiplayer (as repetitive and redundant as it may be.)  But hey, I’m not here to bash on CoD because I myself was once a huge fan of the series.  I’d simply like to point out that this concept of playing video games online with people has pushed us away from what truly makes video games exciting and that is being together.  Some people may argue that shooters are more fun to play online because split-screen makes it hard to see and allows for screen watching, but I still miss having LAN parties at my friends houses because it added a social element that cannot be achieved solely through Xbox Live or PSN.  Some of my best memories are having pool parties at friends houses and then going inside to play 3v3 Halo from different rooms.  I can’t believe that this was only a little over six years a go!  Times have certainly changed in the world of gaming.

The video game market is constantly evolving.  In my 21 years of existence I’ve witnessed playing the NES all the way up to the anticipation of the PS4 and the next generation of Xbox, but no matter where the video game industry ends up it should always be known that the games we play and the ways in which we play them should always bring us more joy than sadness.

-Ocarina of Time Nerd

P.S. I’d love to hear what you guys think! Drop a comment and tell me what you think about online gameplay vs. playing together in the same room.

About Joel

Live, love, play video games.
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2 Responses to Video Games: Then and Now

  1. CaptainOrbit says:

    The last time I remember having a LAN party was 2003 with Halo. I still bust out my N64 on occasion and play Mario Kart 64 or a few rounds of Smash Brothers on my GCN/Wii with friends. I think it’s more about console than games at this point. Nintendo designs their games to be played with other people while Playstation > Xbox > PC (in that order it seems) are more focused on online play. I think another contributing factor would be the price of controllers. No one wants to shell out another $60 on a controller when they could just buy another game. If you look at the nominations for GoTY through various magazines, you’ll see an overwhelming amount of single/online MP games. It’s sad, to be sure.

    • Joel says:

      I posted a comment before but I accidentally deleted it. Sorry bout that haha.
      But yes, I would agree that it really is about the console. Nintendo designs their consoles to focus on the multiplayer elements of their games and that’s why I’m still such an avid Nintendo fan. Playing for the Wii U for the first time a few weeks a go was so exhilarating! I felt like a little kid again because the gameplay was so much fun, especially with other people. Anyway, I just wish there was more of a balance between the online gaming community/industry and the actual physical gaming community.

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