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How the Internet is Breaking Modern Gaming

The Internet: A massively linked world where everything you ever wanted to know is right at your fingertips and everyone you wanted to know is a Facebook friend request away. We vehemently defend our freedoms online and it is absolutely a tool that has ingrained itself in every aspect of modern culture. In regards to video games, though, is it more of a curse than a blessing?

Well, I’m going to take a minute to step down off the soap box here (it’s really high up) and approach this from the point of view of an old-school gamer; someone sitting on the porch, shaking their cane at all the damn young people walking across the lawn. It’s my lawn. You’re ruining it!

Basically, things were a lot different in my day, and for right now I’m going to take on this topic from a point of view where it’s different for the worse. Back in the day, you really had to work hard to beat a game, plugging away for days to beat a certain level. When you wanted to play with a friend you invited your buddy from down the block to come over with an extra controller. Games were less muddled together with last-minute tacked on features. I’m not saying it was utopian, but I’m saying there is a very definite negative impact that the Internet is to blame for.

There Is No Wholly Singler-Player Experience

It seems like these days, the golden rule for games is that if there are guns in it, you tack on an online multiplayer experience. I’m not attacking the concept as a whole. Where would the Halo series be today if not for that aspect? It’s a really cool, welcome feature to shooters, a necessary addition to fighters and has really ingrained itself in about everything. I had a moment, though, when I was reading about the new Max Payne multiplayer when it dawned on me: do we really need online multiplayer in everything? I’ve always regarded the Max Payne series as a really cool but fundamentally solo experience, a gritty cop film noir. The idea of adding multiplayer to that seems foreign to me.

As quickly as I brushed it off, though (it could play into the rest of the game really well, I’m not sure) I rather uneasily remembered the Red Dead Redemption online multiplayer: not fun, repetitive, and overall adding nothing to the longevity of the game. I adored RDR as a single player game, diving into the world of a lone-ranger cowboy and having a lot of fun tying girls to the tracks. Adding on shootout-style online matches is okay, I guess, but it felt a lot more like a tacked-on feature to appeal to a broader audience. It gives the market an appearance of needing to stay connected to everyone all the time, but I guess in today’s always-connected world where companies are working harder to enslave the gamer to the Xbox Live and PSN accounts it’s something you need to tack on to make the experience worth it. Sometimes though, wouldn’t it be nice to just disconnect and play a game by yourself for a while?

The Internet Made Us Lazy

This is definitely a point I am exceedingly guilty of. Gone are the days of exchanging game tips with your friends or plugging mercilessly through one level for hours; here are the days where one thing will give you just a  modicum of difficulty and all of a sudden you’re flying towards GameFaqs so you can move past it and finish the game. I’m guilty by my own admission because there are just parts that I want to skip straight through so I can move on to more exciting things in the game. I know of all too many people who will get straight into a guide from day one so they can rack up their gamerscores by doing everything 100% the first time, and other people (myself included) who simply can’t be arsed to solve every single little puzzle just so they can progress through the game. And why would you, when you can skip all that nonsense and just find out what to do within seconds? A simple Google search, a “Oh, I see how that’s done” and then some poor developer’s stack of hours designing that level are undone because we’re all impatient. We don’t necessarily want to earn the trophies, we just want to collect them so we can say we beat the game.

The Internet Made Us Entitled

By now the whole debacle behind the Mass Effect 3 ending is a bit old (yes, Bethesda responded, let’s all calm down now) but it’s really reverberated the fact that banding together on the Internet with other gamers has made us an entitled lot.  From this to the Mega Man Legends 3 situation, it’s got everyone banding together on forums, creating online petitions and even pouring money into a misguided Kickstarter campaign to get what we want. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many endings to beloved games I’ve hated, or been mad about in terms of cancellations, but the whole mentality that the company owes YOU something has gotten massively out of hand. Playing these games has become a right, and not a privilege. It’s even escalated to the point where gamers seem to be holding the developers’ own games hostage, claiming they’d sooner pirate a copy that buy the game because of X reasons until they got their way. Sounds a bit like a kid in a toy store holding his breath until he gets a new toy, and it’s equally ridiculous. We deserve what we want. Give us what we want. We’ve bought your previous titles, now you owe us.