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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.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

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