A Jaded Gamer: That little bit of local magic
It’s not always doom and gloom when it comes to video games. There are moments when picking up a controller can still beget a grin upon my worn face. And it’s habitually when sharing a game with a comrade that this happens.
Recently, two friends that I had spent my teenage years with visited for a weekend of rum, ginger beer, curry and bullet-hell. Flicking between Backbreaker Vengeance, Deathsmiles, Mortal Kombat and Bomberman Live, the session developed into a lucid interval of thought: while the laughs and jeers multiply when in the company of others, the same cannot be said to happen to the game’s faults.
Then, a few days afterwards, I visited a friend to play Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, grasping the pads firmly in our hands and giving the buttons a good bashing. There were unmistakable design faults as we cut down the marauding Orks with chainsword and bolt gun, but they were forgiven. In one moment, a cutscene abruptly restored player control as the floor fell apart, giving us no time to adjust and escape. If this had happened when playing alone I would have been livid. But with another player, the frustration was divided equally between us.
A pain in the arse became an itch, and it reminded me of my childhood; playing games socially that were littered with faults and yet thoroughly enjoyable in the presence of another. There’s a magic to playing in the physical presence of others that cannot be replicated online. Perhaps this is why fighting games have such a strong, competitive scene: it’s the body language of the players, the energy they exert as they fight to outwit and defeat one another that is as captivating as the action on-screen.
There are plenty of brilliant local multiplayer options available in the current generation of consoles. Local play – be it co-operatively or competitive – has been a strong part of my video game life. It’s something I’ll be writing more about in the future.