The games that I enjoy have changed since when I first got into gaming with my PS2. Shooters and action focused games like Battlefield 2 were my focus point which lead to years of running and gunning. Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 were the games that I hung around on because of the popularity and exciting nature of war.
In recent times, I have switched to playing casual and story-driven games rather than ones that build around play-to-win mechanics. Games such as Portal and Civilisation that don’t cause too much stress to play. Games that are more casual and well paced make for a more enjoyable experience.
Competitive games require mandatory monitoring of game updates due to small changes having a huge impact. Failing to choose the best classes results in players abused for not playing the correct characters or gear set. Smurf characters don’t help when it comes to beginner players learning to playa game.
Playing to win was never at the forefront of my mind when playing the arcade shooters that dominated my playing time. Halo 3 saw me entering the social playlists and playing a few matches, only to send messages out to all the players in the match an invite to one of the legendary custom game matches. I poured hundreds of hours into and was my favourite part of the online multiplayer. Not counting coop campaign of course.
Competitive games can become quite repetitive, with good reason, being able to master maps and mechanics is what makes the best players great. Story games can be quite linear and therefore are only good for a once through, they show a journey. Multiplayer games rarely move outside of a small map where things die in the game area. It’s boring.
In defence of competitive games, allowing someone to become an expert at something that they enjoy can be fulfilling. The players can understand and predict what other players may do, forcing them to adapt strategy on the fly to counter what the other players know about common meta strategy and the player themselves. Especially true for professional gamers where data is available for teams to analyse and review.
Competitive gaming allows for brilliant entertainment for the masses. Watching pros battle it out for the multi-million dollar prize pools has potential to change the way society views video games all together, in some cultures, it already has. The days of being the weirdo that spends their days in their mothers’ basement are fading as time progresses.
Multiplayer Is Still Fun!
Although this article is very critical of the competitive scene, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Games that require cooperation and teamwork are brilliant at changing how a game is played. It also promotes social interaction and leaves behind the toxic environments that occur when the only objective is beating the other team into submission.
Games such as ARMA and World of Warcraft require you to help each other in battle while simultaneously trying to outdo your teammates. Killing the most enemies or earning the highest rank possible for bragging rights is a must for coop. Silliness can be a major game changer, mistakes can make the experience hilarious. Enhanced when a death or mistake doesn’t affect the chance of winning. Looking at you Counter Strike!