Hooowwwwwww doeeessss it brrrinnnggg us together?
- Once, we threw a surprise party for a friend of mine.
- The entire party was spent playing Super Smash Brothers.
I used to struggle with this concept of getting together and then…. just sitting there and playing video games. It was like…. what happened to the outdoors? Creating movies and plays? Roleplaying? Having conversations?
I felt like, for the most part, that things like watching T.V or playing video games are “singular, I’m-alone-so-I’m-entertaining-myself-and-I-adore-video-games” activities. You love to paint, let’s say—but you probably wouldn’t invite a friend over under the pretense of “HEY WATCH ME FOR THREE HOURS PAINT A TREE.”
Yet, this understanding doesn’t quite make sense…. if video games were solely single-player… then why in the heck does Players 1, 2, 3, 4 exist?
It’s times like this that I adore slapping in Nintendo quotes:
“Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”
—Iwata (RIP 😥 )
It’s a simple concept, really. At one point or another, the friend who came over to check out that new game got tired of watching it and wanted to try it. Then switching controllers back and forth became a tedious dance. Thus, multi-player was born!
Or, at least that’s how I imagine it. But let’s be factual, shall we?
As history will tell us, some of the very first video games in existence were multi-player games! Atari’s Pong (1972) is included in this list. Soon after, restaurants were installing the arcade machines in their stores, and friends were challenge each other to get the highest score. Then came the split screen in Empire (1973), built for PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operation).
Fascinating, huh? Contrary to the popular image of an old middle aged adult sitting in the basement with an avalanche of cheetos and no aspirations other than to complete Chrono Trigger on 100% (which is a flippin’ lifetime journey, it seems), video games have always connected people together.
Throughout my school career, meeting another “geek” has always added a buddy onto my roster. My first boyfriend (TMI, sorry) twitched with interest after I corrected him on a Zelda plot-point.
Spoiler alert: Tetra is Zelda, guys.
One of my best friends in the world adores video games like I do, and we have often spent our Friday nights laughing hysterically until 4 in the morning because of the soccer ball feature in Halo Reach.
My sister and I have battle through many Super Smash Bros. games, and I fondly remember when my parents would play with us. My mom and I would play Ocarina of Time together in her bed when I was eight. Once, my dad almost beat us all in Mario Party 4 and I yanked the controller out of his hand to make him decline the final star. That was a horrible, horrible act of evil to commit, by the way.
Games are simply… fun. They challenge a person in different, defying-gravity ways. You can flip and jump and play on life-sized board games. You can send players flying without any visible damage other than a percentage (unless you are playing that kind of game). If you die, you come back to life with a silly vengeance. You compete, you laugh, you kick dinosaur sized soccer balls across mountains…
In a way, they have become a sport.
Furthermore, they have become a professional sport. Among the leagues of casual and hardcore gamers alike are professional speed-runners, hackers, mod-ers, and national competitions. Just a few years ago at E3, Nintendo hosted a Super Smash Brothers competition, with commentary on the techniques players used. I mean, come on—how cool, right?
There was even an audience—a community to cheer the players on.
Video games even inspire charities—which is a post for another day. 😉
The bottom line is… video games bring people together. Most people own not one controller, but at least two.