I’ve always maintained that playing games with friends, especially in co-op, can make even the most mediocre game a fun fucking time.
It’s only more recently that I’ve begun to understand why I feel this. Why do I and three friends recall fondly our 30-or-so shared hours in Dead Island? Why did I play more Assassin’s Creed multiplayer than the actual game itself? Why is my Halo 3 Master Chief helmet proudly on display when I shrug at the idea of more Halo?
I finally figured it out this weekend. As I spent the last few days couch-hopping* around London suburbs so I could play hours and hours of the new Smash Bros with ten of my closest friends, I realised it was the experience around this (and other games) that truly elevated its standing. Laughing and shouting and jeering and cheering and making jokes as we all shared in our utter joy of discovering what the game had to offer, it helped me realise the answers to the above questions.
In Dead Island, the four of us made our own fun. We didn’t take the story or the world or anything about the game seriously, we embraced its janky nature as we hurtled down roads in awful cars, ganged up on individual zombies to kick them to death and came to each other’s rescue more than once.
Three friends and I would regularly team up in Assassin’s Creed Revelations to spend hours killing Templars and each other. We yelled at each other over Skype to co-ordinate capture the flag defence and attack strategies when together. Insults flew when one of us suddenly realised we’d been sneakily poisoned by the other. We made up our own story about ice cream and it was important to us.
Halo 3 arrived for me at 6:45 am on the day of release. I’d had about five hours sleep and work in the evening, but I’d just got my shiny new AV setup finalised and I was raring to go. Throughout the day my three housemates jumped in and out of co-op and online multiplayer with me, and when I headed to my three hour shift at Toys ‘R’ Us my colleagues spent the whole time talking about the game. I got home and finished the campaign before heading to bed, an almost perfect day of playing one single videogame.
These are just a few of the memories and stories I have surrounding videogames, and I’m sure everyone else has their own to tell. It’s these stories that can turn any game, regardless of quality, into a favourite game.
Experience games with other people. Make your own memories. The game only needs to be part of the experience.
*actually I slept on an airbed in one person’s lounge the entire weekend, but that’s less dramatic.