Every gamer worth their salt has some experience with playing multiplayer games. I’m sure some of you reading this have fond memories of setting up LANs with your friends and playing through the night or taking a Sunday and accidentally playing 12 hours of whichever multiplayer game you’re into at the time. Gaming actually got into multiplayer during its very first iteration. The first game ever created was called Tennis for Two, after all. While gaming can be enjoyed on your own, it’s a whole new world once you start opening your doors to the denizens of the internet.
My first brush with the “competitive” scene happened back with Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare like it probably did a lot of people. Remember, the previous game in the franchise was Call of Duty 3, a World War 2 game that almost everyone forgot. This was untouched ground back in those days and since the internet was just becoming mainstream in South Africa, it was also a golden age of discovery.
I started playing with regulars, building up these virtual relationships and creating this little burgeoning community within a shooter game. I started making friends and was playing in a group every day until we decided, why don’t we make a clan? We made a clan and soon enough competitive gaming started becoming a thing for me. Up until that point, I was just playing the game for fun and played enough of it that I became good.
The competitive scene wasn’t really for me. I enjoyed the challenge and the tension of having real stakes involved, but I always longed to just be noobtubing people across the map again and having a laugh. Competitive gaming gets pretty serious and a little scary very quickly if you’re not careful. There’s a reason why the gaming community is considered one of the most toxic out there and believe you me, I have seen my fair share of that.
Sometimes the frustration that some toxic players feel can be somewhat justified. Maybe someone is letting the team down, they felt like they had some sort of point to prove in a match or they just can’t stand losing. It’s frustrating when your free time and personal enjoyment gets sabotaged by a noob. However, flinging insults and being the Grand Daddy of Douche isn’t going to resolve or fix anything. It’s just going to have people quit.
I have recently been into Overwatch and that game went from playing for fun to playing for serious in record time. If you play for fun, you’re messing up team comps, you’re not issuing strategy and there’s no structure to your play, you just Leeroy in there and hope to get some kills. A laid back attitude has no place in the colourful lobbies of Overwatch and I also found myself drifting away from the game after the third loss in a row where a guy that barely did anything goes “trash team” in the chat.
I realised that I don’t like to play games competitively. Time is a big reason because if you want to be competitive in anything, you need to invest time into one thing and one thing only. I jump around games way too much for it to be sustainable. But I do like jumping into a multiplayer game and just enjoying myself a little bit. Not go for the top rank or have a shiny medal next to my name for playing 500 hours, I just want to shoot other people in the face.
So that’s my question to you, do you enjoy multiplayer games for their competitive aspect where you get serious and try your best to be the best, or do you casually hop into a game of Apex Legends or something during the evening and just seeing what happens to unwind after work/school? Also, for bonus points, what was your first multiplayer game discovery? The first multiplayer game that really got its hooks into you?