Five things I miss about local multiplayer gaming?

Remember the good old days, pre-internet, when you used to actually have to be in the same room as the person you were playing against? I do miss those days – I can see the benefit of online multiplayer (no travel, clothing optional) but I much prefer local multiplayer. Here’s five reasons why…

Pizza

#5 – It’s an excuse to buy food

I know you can do this if you’re alone, but it’s better with more people. Firstly, more people means you can get more food, as there is more money available and more people to feed. It’s the different between one pizza and two pizzas and a free garlic bread.

Secondly, you can justify buying food better if there are more people involved. If you’re home alone, you can’t buy lots of pizza just for you, not without potential non gamer partner grief. Invite people over/go to a friends and you can write it off. “Got to be there in ten minutes, I’ll just get something there” are words we’ve all uttered, right?

Victory

#4 – Victory is sweeter when you can see your opponent’s face

While it might be fun beating Marko67979509, it’s always more fun to defeat your friends…and it’s even better when you can see their reaction to your win. As much as we like our friends, they can get to us sometimes…what better revenge than to crush someone who has been winding you up all night, whether it’s by eating the last of the pizza or beating everyone in cheap fashion?

This selection would figure higher up the list, but there’s the crushing flipside – your friends can see your face when you lose. Speaking as someone with a list of calamitous defeats behind them, it’s always tough when your friends are watching. You know you can’t lose it in front of them or you’ll never hear the end of it. Personally,  I’m a fan of the ‘quiet walk to the bathroom, close the door, then die inside’ approach.

joypad

#3 – Joypads

Speaking as someone who doesn’t really socialize much, I have no real use for a second joypad, except when I’ve forgotten to charge my main joypad. However, as a gamer for 29 years or so, I’ve been trained to buy a second pad every time I buy a new console. Now I don’t partake in local multiplayer any more, I’m getting ripped off a bit. The last two generations have seen me shell out money for something I never use.

However, not only were you getting value for money back in the day but it was part of the fun. Everyone had different pads with different quirks and it was always cool to go to someone’s house and see what pads they had. Whether it was the wide range of Mega Drive third party pads, the different colours of the PS1 and PS2 era or the ‘special edition’ pads of the modern era, it’s always interesting to see what pads people like. There’s also the bonus of trying to win with the ‘bad’ pad…you know, there’s always one friend who has a pad with an issue you have to adapt to. I remember my mate’s third PS2 pad and it’s missing L1 button. Problem was, we were playing Smackdown…L1 is crucial for special moves. So, to execute a special move, I had to jam my finger inside the shell and push the little spring down on to the internal button….strangely enough, I didn’t win, but it was great fun fighting against the odds!

new video game

#2 – It’s a good way to try new games

Again, as cool as xxxchickmagnet69xxx is, is he someone you trust with opinions on games? Local multiplayer sessions have been an invaluable way of testing new games out since the start of gaming. Whether it’s the big game that your group of friends are looking forward to and talking about (I miss the phone call I would get every October – “I have Pro Evo. Come down…”) or a game that one person is championing and trying to sell to the others (Mario Kart: Double Dash comes to mind), it’s always fun to gather around a new game, analyse it’s features and decide as a group if the game is any good.

Pre-internet, there was often no way to learn about a new game apart from magazines and demos. Having a mate with the game was valuable – you could try it and make a decision to buy it. You could even potentially lend it and save a few quid. I still think playing a new game with friends is one of the best ways to judge a game, even in this day and age with all the videos available online. Having a trusted opinion or two as you play can really help you make your mind up.

Friends

#1 – It’s an excuse to catch up with friends

As you get older, you drift away from your friends. It’s a sad part of life. Jobs, kids, distance…all reasons why you can’t catch up anymore. Local multiplayer is a good reason to meet up…sure, you can do it online, but it’s always better catching up with people you haven’t spoken to in a while in person. There’s no issues with microphones, no internet issues, no issues with trying to play a story based game while people are trying to talk to you. The best reason though is, it can provide a reason, an excuse to go out and actually meet as oppose to WhatsApp or text.

The backdrop has changed from someone’s bedroom – I personally think barcades are great for meeting up and playing games, but you could meet up at a game convention too, make a day of it. I went to Play Expo a few years ago and had a blast playing all the old consoles and looking around the shops with my friends.

That’s my five, but if you think I’ve left anything out or want to share your local multiplayer stories, let me know below!