Friday, November 23, 2007

Some additional notes about multiplayer games

In a multiplayer boardgame or card game, the focus is on who (which player) you're going against, not on how you're getting there (maneuver). In a two player game, the focus is on how you're getting there, not on who you're going against, because there is no choice of the latter (you have only one).

In general, in non-electronic games, in multiplayer games you're playing the player much more than the "system". In electronic games, even multiplayer, you're playing the system first, then the other players. You can't "look them in the eye", you can't see body language. Yes, you can use Skype or some built-in system to talk to your opponents, but you may not KNOW them, and you won't see them. It makes a difference.

Do people who play as opponents in online multiplayer electronic games become friends? I'm not talking about co-operative games like Everquest, where they're in the same party/guild. I think the answer is no. Do players of multiplayer non-digital games face to face become friends? Often, if they aren't friends already.


Ian Schreiber said...

I think this may have more to do with the difference between action games and strategy games, than any inherent bias in online versus offline play.

It is not uncommon for the players of online CCGs, for example, to become friends in real life. Even in games where you're playing competitively and not cooperatively.

Russ Williams said...

A lot depends on the specific multi-player game. In some, like Diplomacy, I would agree the emphasis is more on your choices of interactions with other players, and the game mechanics are intentionally simple so as to emphasize that. But a lot of multi-player games also have a heavy emphasis on the mechanics themselves, and player spend a lot of time "managing their own empire" or whatever. At the far extreme are the simultaneous solitaire type games (e.g. Take It Easy, Ricochet Robot, Set), but I would say an awful lot of "middle of the road" games have a whole lot of planning and management independent of the other players.