Multiplayer games are a staple in the video game industry, as a way to interact with others through the medium… Or just to show someone how l33t you are. However in recent years, a lot of multiplayer games have changed how they are played. No longer are we playing games of healthy competition, but more games are out there to show that you’re better for having played them longer than someone else. Join me as I take a look back through multiplayer games of old and how modern games tackle the communication between people.
We’ll begin by taking a trip down memory lane, or for many of us, a year before we were even conceived. In the early 1970s, the first ever Pong consoles were released to the general public and people were buying them by the boat load. Well okay, perhaps not quite a boat load of them, but people all over were willing to get their hands on a way to interact with their television sets in more than a typical watch the broadcast way. They wanted to play Pong, a game that was only available in the arcades prior, in their home with their own friends without having to take change to play on the machines.
Whilst Pong was all well and good, it was just the first in a long line of easy games to pick up and play. We started to get games like Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, even games like Tetris supported more than one player after a while, for a little bit of competitive gaming between friends and family. But by the time the SNES was out, most of these simple two player games started to dwindle in favour for more complex, trickier to play single player games. Sure action games and fighting games were still popular enough to have two player modes, but games were already making their way into RPGs and more.
Now this isn’t to say that multiplayer games disappeared, but they had to evolve and adapt. Over time, we went on to playing less random action/adventure games, less platformers and more into shooters. These games were more like Quake and Unreal. Around the same sort of time, the PS1 came out and even more single player games came out. Games along the lines of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. In the case of Crash, this was a platformer that did away with multiplayer all together, in favour of a more in depth story in the game. It’s not a traditional platformer, but it still is one. Hey, at the end of the PS1 years, my favourite RPG of all time came out: Final Fantasy IX. No main Final Fantasy game had done multiplayer at this point.
So shooters were the thing that really kept multiplayer going for a period of time, but then around the 2000s, the long standing MMORPG World of Warcraft came out. It’s incredible to think that next year the WoW community will have the Burning Legion to defeat in World of Warcraft. MMORPGs weren’t new… I was very accustomed to playing games such as Dark Ages of Camelot and City of Heroes at this point… But now the RPG genre was being more innovative and more involving of multiplayer, but really, this was a different way to play: This was about working together to defeat huge enemies, or fighting one another in intense battles. These are games of numbers, the more numbers you have, the better you do is the general rule of thumb.
Now we’ve got the indie scene, a thriving community with countless fun games to play. Since I got my OUYA last year, I have played many cool multiplayer games, such as Amazing Frog? and Hidden In Plain Sight (which is also on Steam). These games have brought back the sense of fun, the sense of pure silly gameplay along with a little bit of competitive nature and in some cases: skill of the game. But whilst multiplayer games never left us, it sure feels now that we’ve got a more diverse library of games out there. Now there are games for those who want to invest plenty of time, as well as games which you just put on at a party. What’s your earliest memory of a multiplayer game? Share your favourite multiplayer games in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
P.S: If you are ever in doubt about a good multiplayer game to get into, consider getting a fighting game or a shooter. Those generally are multiplayer. If you want something a bit different, for fighting check out Guilty Gear, for the characters are so outlandish, you end up falling for each and every one of them. I personally like using Bridget and Faust as my guys. For FPS, I implore you to play the Unreal Tournament games. Those are my personal picks for franchises!