The Life of a Solo Gamer
by Aitch Cee
In many ways, I don’t consider myself to be an anti-social person although at times, I would rather not be bothered with people. When it comes to gaming, that might be one of those times. There are times that I really would love to get into multiplayer games especially with the promise of all the fun that could be had but sometimes, I feel that a lot of the excitement doesn’t live up to its real world potential.
Let me tell you a tiny bit about myself so that some of you can relate. I am over 40, I work full time, married, and of course I also in my spare time spend it with family, keeping this site up to date watch TV and also game with whatever time I have remaining. I have noticed my habits about gaming have changed over the years as my life has changed. When I didn’t have as many responsibilities as I do now it was nothing for me to come home, do the basics I needed to do, and just hop on a game and played until I literally fell asleep at the controls. Even though those times are rare now, I remember there were weekends when I could lock myself in and game for an entire weekend and in some instances enjoy with friends and had a blast. Now as time has gone on, game systems changed as well as the focus of games from single to multiplayer has changed, I have to be choosier about what I really want to play.
Naturally it’s all about time management and as some of you are reading that, you have figured that out. The issue for me, of course now is when we see games like Destiny, Assassins Creed Unity and so many other games that have this promise of great multiplaying experiences, the real world issues of coordinating getting others to play kick in. Say what you want about Destiny as to whether the game is good based solely on its mechanics but at its base, it’s a really good co-op game with friends…pay attention, WITH FRIENDS. I had an experience the first week out in a level where I was being overrun by an angry horde of monsters and my friend John, who was supposed to jump in a ½ an hour ago, finally jumps in and after 3 tries, we kick ass!!! What made that more fun was the water cooler talk we had the next morning with other co-workers about our experience. So, why did I make such an emphasis about playing with friends? Sure, multiplayer games by sheer design are made to be played with anyone you meet when playing online, but for me, I am one of those rare people who don’t like playing with total strangers. As much as I would love to get the newest iterations of Call of Duty, I don’t find it particularly joyful playing in a room full of people who have their own agendas and mikes disconnected and worse, is the few that do, are the kids under 12 who is calling everyone names but a child of God, making us wonder where the parents are. I know that there are some out there that don’t mind playing with strangers but I know for myself, I prefer playing with people I know and trust to make the gaming experience for all of us, fun.
Another issue with time management is that I realize that most of my friends are pretty much in the same boat I am; we are adults with responsibilities and many times it’s difficult to make time to game together and when we are lucky enough to do so, it’s never enough time in the day to play especially if one of us has to get off to make time for family. In short, I have come to realize, I can’t multiplay a lot of games like I used to. Sometimes just when you really want to dig in a game, you realize that you have to stop because other things including other hobbies are calling. Plus, let’s face it. When you aren’t on, your friends are on and when you have other things to do, it’s not surprising to come back to a game to find your friends have advanced while you are still stuck at where you left off. My friend John has a level 20 character on Destiny and I am still stuck at level 10 because I have had time to play it not to mention I wanted to make time for other games that I am still finishing or just being released.
Another big part of solo play in games is that there are times I like to be able to take my time and go at my own pace and sometimes it’s not conducive for others that have already had the game for a few hours or days and ready to just dig in. Sometimes, the first few minutes or hours of a game is the time I need to really feel the mechanics out to see if it’s worth playing and that’s not always something you get when playing multiplayer.
Now don’t get me wrong, having said all of this, I am not bashing multiplayer gaming at all. It’s a great way for people to get together and game especially if you are in different places. At the end of the day, I know it’s not always for me. As much as I am excited Assassins Creed Unity, I already know it may be rare times I actually play with my actual friends online. I am even eyeballing getting DriveClub and I may be hesitant to play online because I know that I suck at driving games. I know out there secretly, a lot of us when checking out games, right after we check out the mechanics of what makes a particular game tick, we also check to see if it’s conducive to solo play especially if it’s an MMO. Why do we do that? The reason is, because while many of us want to experience the game, we don’t always want to experience it with other people. That really does sound anti-social right? In some ways that it is but I still feel like some games especially in the opening stages, when one is still trying to piece it all together, is best enjoyed by that one player. You can watch or skip the cutscenes, you can fiddle and fine tune the controls, and you can play for 5 minutes or 5 hours with no one else judging you. It’s ok to do so because to me, it’s still just a game.
Bottom line is this, we all have to make do when it comes to the gaming experience. As I have already stated, as our lives change so will our gaming habits. I don’t knock anyone for wanting to play for how they want to play and while I do wish at times I could play more like I used to and sometimes even play online more, I have reached a point that I don’t have as much time or patience but I do make the most of it when I can get it. Honestly, I do miss the days of having friends over and being able to all of us sitting in front of one TV gaming together…so in that regard, thank you Blizzard for Diablo III
What about you? Which is your preferred method of play? Discuss in the comments section and don’t be surprised if you see me struggling on DriveClub next week.
Yep. Pretty much everything you’ve said above has hit home with me, and I’m ‘only’ 31 🙂
I do find that my multiplayer is now limited to mainly local experiences. Be that friends gather around the same TV with a console, or a bunch of computers connected via good ol’ reliable LAN. I can’t remember the last time I partook in any online multiplayer.
Although saying that, the majority of my gaming is single-player, and even that has changed considerably as life has progressed and priorities changed. I used to love digging my teeth into epicly long RPGs or overly story-ridden games. Nowadays, I find it’s much easier to get into the quick-pick-up-and-play variety, of which thankfully there is a good selection out there ever since the indie scene rose up.
I do occasionally get a week (normally when the partner is away) where I can delve into a bigger experience and completely get involved until completion. But that normally occurs only around once or twice a year now 🙂
I’ve also discovered that now that my gaming is reliant solely on gameplay mechanics, as opposed to being delivered alongside immersion and story-telling, I have become much more critical on good mechanics, good balance and general good gameplay.
Not to mention I would love to schedule game nights with friends but hey…that’s hard too. Gotta catch’em when you can catch’em
I don’t consider myself anti-social, more like under-social. Of course, the Internet helps. I always play games solo. I would like to try playing with others, but I’m not sure how to start.