Local Multiplayer – The beauty of LAN gaming
Online multiplayer is a wonderful thing. With the few clicks of a mouse, we can play our favorite games with our favorite people, regardless of if they’re down the hall, across the street, or on the other side of the world. Gaming sessions don’t have to end because people move away; they just take place in a different location. But a lot is lost when that happens.
At the end of the day, playing Counter-Strike online with friends is still primarily a solo experience. You may interact with others through the game’s chat, VOIP services such as Ventrilo, and group calls over Skype, but ultimately, something is missing from these things. Taking time to type out messages in chat results is time lost actually playing the game. Trash talking over Ventrilo doesn’t have the same “oomph” it normally has when it comes from your friend’s crappy mic. Forget about face-to-face interaction; does anyone actually do Skype video calls while playing games online?
While playing games over the internet has brought us the ease of convenience of playing with friends from our own desk, it comes at the cost of intimacy of social interaction. As we move forward into a new console generation, a disturbing trend began: the loss of local multiplayer. Looking forward to killing zombies with a friend on the same screen in Dead Rising 3? Think again. Hoping to bring over people to race in Need for Speed: Most Wanted? Too bad. Looking to find split-screen support in Killzone: Shadow Fall? Look elsewhere.
Yes, it’s entirely possible to experience all of the multiplayer features in these games over the internet, but it’s missing out on something. You know that feeling you get when you finally see a friend you haven’t seen in a while? Sure, you’ve kept in touch with them over Facebook after moving away, but this is different. You’re actually seeing them. You’re seeing everyone; the old group of friends is back together. As you set up your computers and arrange teams, the excitement builds, filling the air. You breathe it in as you log in and prepare, adrenaline rushing through your limbs, nervousness as you want to ensure everyone that you haven’t lost it. You can sense people looking in your direction, ready to talk smack when they land kills.
That’s the beauty of local multiplayer. That’s the best part of a LAN party. Whether you’re all playing the same game or splitting off into separate groups, you’re all still there in the same place. You’re all still one, even if you’re off in your own world. Sure, there’s party chat and VOIP, but talking into a microphone absolutely pales in comparison to being with somebody. At the end of the day, you’re still by yourself. Your friends are by themselves. When your online game is over, you log out and leave the computer. You also leave your friends.
When the game is over after local multiplayer, you turn to your friends and go “what’s next?”