Up For Debate - Are Games Still Games If You Play Them On Your Own

Written by Sam Welch on Sun, Dec 28, 2014 4:00 PM
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Is one player better, or co-op play? Or massively multiplayer online play? Playing games with friends is a very different experience to playing them on your own, first and foremost because the fun changes depending on how good your friends are. But the difference is a little deeper too - if we give them our full attention, games can have as much impact on our lives as any other art form.

Modern video games blur the lines between different purposes. Games began as exercises - friendly competition helped keep us at physical and mental peak, while developing social skills that improved our chances of mutual survival, and clearly some elements of these purposes survive in videogames today.

Games are also more and more a legitimate art form. Huge teams of talented individuals work hard to put enormous amounts of humanising detail into stories, visuals and sounds to create real emotional responses. But can even the most affecting of these replace the spontaneity of real human interaction? 

Multiplayer games, still offer friendly teamwork and competition and unpredictable play to sharpen our wits and social skills, even if other players aren’t there in the room with you. But if single player games replace the erratic competition offered by people with pre-programmed events and neat storylines, do they in fact prepare us for a completely unreal world, like movies and TV can do? Living in the world rarely works out how you plan it to, but in a game world, more often than not practise and repetition of a small set of skills means that sooner or later everything goes your way, or at least the way that the game lets you go if you’re good enough.

Of course, there are experiences that might break this dichotomy. This War of Mine showed us how futile our efforts can be in the face of a world that doesn’t care about our hopes and dreams, and that even our hallowed humanity almost certainly has its limits. Is this a valuable life lesson of the sort games are supposed to teach us? It certainly isn’t a neatly wrapped story arc with a bow on top. That said, though - what does it teach us about how to live our lives? if our efforts will always eventually fail, what use is anything we do in the meantime? It's a truly punishing ‘game’, and the more you think about it a very strange thing to find amongst ‘I Am Bread’ and ‘Peggle Deluxe’ for commercial download on Steam, rather than in a dark corner of a War museum.

What is the scope of a game as impressive as we make ‘em today, and what purposes can they have? How has the intersection of mental exercises like digital Chess and Solitaire and perhaps the most immersive art form ever created affected our humanity, the norms of our society and our abilities to live in and cope with the world? Is one player better, or co-op play? Or massively multiplayer online play?

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22:48 Dec-29-2014

Even the way the question is framed is somewhat obtuse. Is a game a gamy if it's only single player? Is sex still sex if your girlfriend is fat? Of course. Is it better to game with friends? Is it better to have sex with skinny chicks? Those are matters of opinion. A game will always be a game regardless of how many people can play it, that's not up for debate, it's a fact.

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23:55 Dec-29-2014

True that!

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23:56 Dec-29-2014

It would probably be like questioning whether games like DooM or Skyrim are still considered games because they don't have MP..

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19:15 Jan-05-2015

Doom is the granddaddy of Multiplayer. "Deathmatches" were very popular in Doom. They were wildly entertaining right up to the point when your parents picked up the phone.

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16:37 Dec-29-2014

Single player is the best for me. I hate being online with a bunch of whining little kids. How is anyone supposed to enjoy a game with a bunch of snot nosed brats constantly cursing like sailors? Online MP is a blight upon gaming. As online MP has become more popular games in general have become worse story wise. Co-op is the only form of MP that I even remotely care about.

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15:00 Dec-29-2014

Is a banana still a banana if you eat it? I mean cmon :p

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12:03 Dec-29-2014

i agree games depend too much on internet nowadays and i think "hmm does this game have trophies or achieves?" games didnt had that years ago


i even have to use that counter technic which i invented:
"will i be able to play this «single-player» game in 12 years?

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08:58 Dec-29-2014

Are you playing your love games with me?

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13:28 Dec-29-2014

You bet I am.

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07:52 Dec-29-2014

Speechless..

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22:37 Dec-28-2014

I like SP and Storylines more :)

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03:39 Dec-29-2014

+1 bro, games like NFS carbon and before carbon, assassin's Creed and hitman, max payne and pop ofc

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22:28 Dec-28-2014

I play games to relieve stress, so I always play Single Player. The kids in Multi-Player games raise my stress level. Besides that, Single Player games focus on the storyline. The result is usually a better game than anything multiplayer can deliver!

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22:15 Dec-28-2014

I love to play with my friends whether it is with them like League of Legends or against them in some shooter. Some games I enjoy playing alone like Just Cause 2 and The Long Dark.

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23:43 Dec-28-2014

Oh, Just Cause 2... It was elegant...

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21:59 Dec-28-2014

Generally I prefer single-player over multiplayer. I don't get to play games very often and the campaign modes for most titles (BF3 was a major disappointment) is wildly entertaining. However when I try multiplayer i am instantly outmatched and feel more frustration than fun.

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20:28 Dec-28-2014

Let's not forget pre-pubescent kids shouting out obscenities involving other players' mothers!

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19:13 Dec-28-2014

LOL, I almost never play multiplayer.

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19:00 Dec-28-2014

"Are Games Still Games If You Play Them On Your Own?"


What, seriously? How is this possibly up for debate. Yes, of course they are.

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18:57 Dec-28-2014

Are games still games if you pl.... what the, games are still games if i want to play it alone or with my friends -_-

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18:23 Dec-28-2014

GAMES r GAMES no matter sinplayer/multiplayer or Co op. They r meant to be entertaining and make us think. That's it. BTW Super title ;D ;D
Articles like this make me laugh. Sorry for being rude but just my opinion :)
Happy Holidays

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18:21 Dec-28-2014

Don't know if you have ever heard about it , but there is something called ''Singleplayer'' ;P

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18:12 Dec-28-2014

There are loads of games that are amazing, and either completely Single Player, or the main focus is single player. The Elder Scrolls series, every MGS, Witcher 2 (never played the 1st one, but I've heard good things), Assassins Creed single player, The Sims, FTL, XCOM single player etc. etc. etc.
This insistence on multiplayer is ruining games, and gaming in general.

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18:07 Dec-28-2014

Single-player in some chosen games has changed my life,and i truly love that.But i also love the simple fun of multiplayer.Both offer something great to us gamers,and you can't really compare the two,as both make us happy.

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17:54 Dec-28-2014

IMO singleplayer games are the best, too bad there aren't any singleplayer-only AAA titles left. :/

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19:03 Dec-28-2014

What about Wolfenstein The new Order? ;)

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20:14 Dec-28-2014

Dunno who the heck down voted you but i agree it was amazing it was pretty long and gameplay was damn good. And to my surprise they managed to make the story interesting too.

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20:27 Dec-28-2014

Wolfenstein TNO was the game that DIDN'T make me regret pre-ordering it. It was also the game that WASN'T yet another failed reboot/sequel/spinoff.
Bottom line - Bethesda FTW!

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22:16 Dec-28-2014

Personally, I would give the credit to the developer instead of giving it to publisher :)

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13:05 Dec-29-2014

Anyone here played Wolfenstein 3D on Win 95?

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14:09 Dec-29-2014

Not on 95 but i have played every classic ID fps game there is.

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14:31 Dec-29-2014

@Fudgehog - Bethesda overlooks all developments under their wing. John Carmack (god forbid if you don't know him!) said so on, I think, the 2012 QuakeCon Keynote. According to him, Bethesda does not want sh*t games to be released out to us and so far I can't really name a single game featuring their logo that was crap, even as of late!

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14:34 Dec-29-2014

I agree. Bethesda are great publishers who don't money whore (point and case EA or Activision) or release buggy garbage most of the time (point and case Ubi$oft.) If you don't pay attention to the Elder Scrolls Online, at least.

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00:26 Dec-29-2014

Shadow of Mordor was also a single-player only AAA title. Both Arkham and The Witcher coming out next year are also single-player only. Witcher is even DRM-free

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14:33 Dec-29-2014

Let us not forget the beauty that was...Skyrim...

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17:05 Dec-28-2014

This article kinda made me think that i play some games online just because i want to interact with people. For example when i play some online games with my friends, i mainly focus on talking with them, and playing the game is just a side activity. In some cases...hanging out virtually with friends is bigger reason for me to play the game, than the game it self is.

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