How fourth generation consoles are forcing non-sociable gamers to play with others.
Video games has always been an escape for me. Not in a sense where I choose a virtual world over reality, but more of like a vacation. After a long day at work or at school, there’s nothing more gratifying than shutting yourself out for a couple of hours (even days) to enjoy video games. This was my ME time.
Playing games helped clear my mind and calm myself when I am too emotional about something. One special memory comes to mind when I was going ballistic and ranting to my best friend about a problem I had. She knew what she had to do to calm the raging hulk within me. She loaded up Mass Effect 2 (my all time favorite video game) and handed me the controller. Ten minutes later, I’m as calm as a monk.
When I do have my ‘me’ time, I want to be alone and would prefer that nobody bothers me. I do enjoy multiplayer and online gaming but that’s a different circumstance altogether. There’s a time when you want to play with other people and there’s also moments when you want to experience a game on your own.
Gaming has always been primarily an offline experience. I’ve done it with almost every console out there. However, next-generation consoles are starting to heavily push multiplayer, online, and social media features towards gamers.
While we still have the option to opt-out, gaming is gradually being transformed into a hobby where someone is always watching and listening. I’m not talking about the NSA, but everyone included and beyond your console friend list.
Goodbye ‘me’ time gaming. We can now stream and share our video game moments on PSN, Xbox Live, and other external social networks. Heck, people can even call you via Skype while you are playing a video game. Some of your favorite video game franchises have started to prioritize online play over the single player campaign. You thought gaming could be an escape from your social life, but it has become an extension of it.
You could argue that you could just opt out and unlink your social media profiles and just play offline. That’s true, but I wouldn’t be writing these stuff if it was that easy. Look at the massive amount of people who are addicted to Facebook, Twitter, and their smartphones. We even have technology detox camps and instructional videos. You can’t just stop being connected, because technology makes you want to be. You can’t just stop being connected, because technology wants you to.
First of all, you’re buying a console that has all of these online capabilities. I would be disrespecting my hard earned cash if I didn’t make the most out of it. With that said, I am going to utilize the crap out of my PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s hard to avoid what you paid for.
There are also a lot of features that enhance the gaming experience if you are connected. Applications can feed you real time information or show your fantasy draft, rankings, and what not.
We earn these trophies and achievements that’s meant to be shared. So, you finished insanity difficulty on a notoriously hard video game? I bet a lot of gamers would be proud to share that on their social media accounts.
When we see people talking about our favorite games online, we want to jump in and join the conversation. It’s hard to resist being a part of it. You’ve also got to admit that destroying Los Santos could be a lot more fun if you had your best friend wrecking it with you via multiplayer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about a lot of these features for the next-generation. We still have the option to play offline and ignore online completely, but the future is quickly heading towards a world where being online becomes a perfunctory part of gaming. We won’t have even have to think about connecting because the console will do it for us and perhaps internet is accessible to everyone by then. At that point, we could be used to always being available to everyone.
Goodbye ‘me’ time gaming, I’ll enjoy you while I still can. If not, there’s always playing chess or scrabble up in the cabins.