Editorial – Why Do We Play Video Games? Part 2

Jager Robinson May 18, 2015 0
game over

I have already expressed that video games were designed to choose a clear winner and loser. But now it is my job to argue against myself.

All of these video game experiences are directly tied to the multiplayer experience you come across. So what about those single-player games?

According to a study published in the Journal of Comparative Social Science, happiness decreases as the level of competition increases. So what this means for us is that whether video games are designed for winning or not: humans don’t care. We want to win, but we want to win in close matches. Nobody truly likes a blowout. That is partially why close games like Super Bowls and NBA Finals are always more watched than the #1 team vs the worst team in any given league.

That being said, video games were also never meant to be multiplayer then right? At the top of the last part, I mentioned that if you haven’t read the Multiplayer Revolution piece, you should. And that applies here as well. The Multiplayer Revolution I outline actually inadvertently altered the psychology of video games forever. That greater calling to make all video games integrated into the multiplayer system forced developers to make games less fun.

Video games will soon never be designed for fun. Multiplayer creates competition and when there is competition, there is unhappiness. Whether or not you play for fun makes no difference nowadays but that doesn’t change single player games!

Maybe all developers should return to their roots.

Example No. 1: Bethesda Softworks. The loved creators of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series have fallen on some strange times recently. What type of games are loved most from Bethesda? Single-player games. Games like Fallout and Skyrim that are just defined on the single-player experience of fun and wondrous exploration. So what did Bethesda do? They made Elder Scrolls Online. The exact opposite of their fans wanted. They changed their entire mindset in a heartbeat because of the multiplayer revolution. The revolution kills and creates man…so instead of making a single-player game, they made a multiplayer game that didn’t do well. Sounds like a losing formula but is it really? ESO currently runs at around 770,000 subscribers which is pretty impressive considering it went free-to-play pay-to-win. So in reality, this failed game is incredibly successful and makes Bethesda tons of money, but it isn’t fun or interesting.

Example number 2, Electronic Arts. Yeah everything EA does is poison, I get that. But remember when the first five Call of Duty’s came out? Those games were just plain fun and heres why… The single player experience was worked on first. The first three in the series focused heavily on the single player experience and it wasn’t until the fifth installment did they focus almost exclusively on the multiplayer experience.

So as we round this out, it is pretty obvious what has happened to video games, but does this answer the question of why we play video games? Of course not.

I have simply kept making the argument that video games are no longer designed for fun, and that the reason for that is multiplayer. The revolution ate the single player experience and when there is no incredible single player experience, there can be no fun had in a video game.

The reason you play your video games is yours alone, whether you think it is for fun or not, we can’t lie to ourselves anymore. All of those people who answered “for fun” before cannot keep pretending that their games are fun. If you like competition, then this generation of video games is perfect for you, but if you are part of the old elite then the single player experience is where you want the industry to be and it is just not.

fallout 4

Fun video games are dead until game developers start giving up on the forced multiplayer. Fallout 4 doesn’t need multiplayer Bethesda. Call of Duty doesn’t need another washed up multiplayer experience EA. The world doesn’t need more multiplayer, we need more fun. Inject the industry with fun and the gamers will return to your side.

Dear developer,

Have you ever wondered why fans have become so outspoken the past 10 years? Its not the internet by the way, it is because your games aren’t fun anymore. Admittedly that is our fault, we asked for it during the revolution but why would you listen to us!?

Love, Jager!

God, we’re such hypocrites!