How has multiplayer gaming changed over the last decade?
For those of us old enough to remember the chaos of LAN parties in a dimly lit room, we probably have extremely fond memories of multiplayer gaming, but how does that compare, ten years down the line?
Before the days of broadband, multiplayer gaming was almost restricted to connecting all your mates (extremely un-portable computers) to a LAN and getting a beast of a session going, playing either Age of Empires, Unreal Tournament and Command and Conquer. You would often find the most obscure and funny ways to get a system set up, when everyone is huddling into one small room, finding space for 10 CRT monitors and very bulky PC towers with mice and keyboards was exceptionally hard work. I’m pretty sure you can find a picture online of a chap, duct taped to the ceiling so he can play a game that was high up on a chest of drawers. If none of your friends had space, you’d find yourself down an internet cafe spending all your money and time binge playing the most popular games 24 hours at a time. Most of the time the people playing were 16-30 and it was a fantastic social atmosphere. Everyone on the same wave length. Boasting about their Nvidia GeForce 256 Graphics card.
Moving on nearly 10 years later and things have changed quite drastically. And it is a crying shame because multiplayer
gaming has lost that social atmosphere that I was so fond of. At best, if your TV is big enough, you will find 4 people playing in the same room on one console. That’s suggesting there are enough controllers too! Very rarely you find a house with multiple consoles battling it out. These days its all done over broadband. Why take all your computers/consoles down your friends house when you can sit in the comfort of your own home and speak over Xbox live, PSN or even Team speak. One of the most disappointing experiences I find, is being happily engrossed in a game only to come across some 10 year old start hurling abuse to you explaining how he’s about to violate your mother. Which is a totally different topic.
My earliest memory of a LAN party was back in school, at a youth club. There was a back room in which all the kids flocked too to play Age of Empires, a game to this day I still highly regard as one of the best games ever created. It was almost like the game was perfectly made for LAN parties. Whereas now I play first person shooters such as Left 4 Dead 2 and Killing Floor. Can you see a trend here? Back in 2003 I loved Call of Duty. My best friend and I had the most ridiculous setup in his house using any thing we could get our hands on to fashion a make-shift desk for 3 computers. That game was a breakthrough in war based first person shooters. To this day I will argue until i’m blue in the face that it is one of the best in the series. It was simple and effective. It was a game that made you want to get together and play with your mates. You could eat junk food and neck energy drinks. That is the type of game that makes a fantastic LAN party game. Games nowadays can have so much going on and that can ruin it. You can become so engrossed in a game, that you stop socializing and become so focused you just zone out. LAN party games are good, simple, fun and extremely addictive games that you wanted to commit hours of your time to.
Games today are better than they ever have been. But I struggle to find games in the market that make me want to pack up my tower and monitor, drive down to my mates house and get a proper nerdy party going. The thought of booting up Age of Empires excites me, but that’s more than likely nostalgia.
Another problem with the transition from the LAN era to the Broadband era is the age of children playing. Back when I attended LAN parties i was 16+ and i was relatively new to the whole scene. These days kids are being introduced to gaming from a very young age, and naturally the only way they can play with their friends is over the internet. So this becomes all they know. Why invite your mate over to play a game, when you can have the TV/monitor to yourself and still play wih your mate online.
With broadband, we were meant to be brought together. But I do have to ask the question, how together has it brought gamers? We used to make gaming a reason to get together, but now its all gone a little Pete Tong. In fact, it often seems to have gone the often way, and playing online seems lonelier than ever. Please leave a comment telling us your favorite LAN games, LAN party experiences and even if you’re the minority gaming through LAN parties in 2017!