Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Announcements/The Joys of Co-Op

 A few announcements:
It's been about 8 months since the last post on this blog.  Pinellas and myself have not stopped playing video games by any means, we've just been in school and busy as hell.  Expect a good number of entries (from me at least) before I return to summer graduate classes on May 28th.  Also, if you're a diehard, (lookin' at you C and Monigle) there will be an upcoming video game connection podcast to be released weekly with some in depth discussion between myself, Mr. P, and an unnamed, incredible, mysterious, talented, ambiguous, intelligent, elusive, deep-thinking, magical and special guest.  Stay tuned for the big reveal in the next couple of days!

On to the entry!

When it comes to legitimizing video games as the entertainment medium that should be paid the most attention, it inevitably gets compared to its closest counterpart: movies.  This is not an entry where I laud video games with over the top fanboy dedication, nor is it an entry where I denigrate movies to show how much better video games are.  This is just showing what video games can do by defining the closest "other" it has.

When I hear movie fans rave about a film its normally their love of escapism that catches my attention.  I can remember people raving constantly about the visuals in movies like Titanic or Star Wars for instance because they transported people to different worlds and times that they could physically see and hear.  It enabled them a wholly different experience than what they found in their day to day lives.  One of the things that I find so interesting about video games is the fact that they enable the same things but in a dramatically different way.  When I fire up Skyrim I'm viewing and hearing a new, living, breathing world but I'm also granted agency to experience that world as I choose.  There are a lot of things affecting my choices that are built into the game and that's another thing I love.  It's what makes a game like Skyrim so captivating: that random dragon showing up overhead or walking around and stumbling upon a cave you haven't discovered yet.  Of all the things video games can throw at you unexpectedly though, I love the unexpectedness (not sure if that's a word) of Co-Op the most.

Again this is not meant to cheapen the movie experience at all, but when I watch a movie with someone the moments that significantly alter my immersion in the films elements normally come after the film has ended.  Now that I think about it, it's probably my favorite part of going to the movies.  I love standing outside that theater talking with friends about favorite moments, getting different perspectives about what I just saw, and re-thinking (really re-experiencing) what I witnessed.  With video games that is altered because most of the time a cooperative experience involves constant communication.  Again it's the agency that really gets me with Co-Op.  Mr. P and I bonded over about 3 years of playing Halo 3's competitive multiplayer together.  We played doubles (2v2) constantly and had a different experience every time.  He altered every game I played (mostly in good ways, but there were a few times I wanted to kill him for blowing a lead or shooting me with a rocket launcher).  Those alterations, those shared unique experiences, have brought about incredible memories for both of us.  Just look at this small list of things Pinellas and I have done together that were altered by the very fact we both did them:

P and I have:
Saved the universe or world from impending doom (countless times)
Defeated Wesker
Grown gardens
Grown trees
Built houses
Killed the red team
Killed the blue team
Killed the locust
Killed the COG
Defeated the Locust queen
Survived the apocalypse
Run frantically from the Tank
Shot blue portals
Shot orange portals
Survived Chell's test chambers
Beaten army of two (its true, and that game absolutely sucked)
Dodged rockets
Flown through space
Had epic comebacks
Had epic losses
Won the west
Traversed mountains
Explored canyons
and much, much more.

All these aforementioned experiences are a significant part of what makes video games, and specifically cooperative play, so special for me.  If you can't become better friends with someone after coming back and winning from a 16 kill deficit on blackout in Halo 3 then you're just crazy.  P and I altered each others experiences in all these moments.  I love agency and I love co-op.





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