The advent of online multiplayer was a godsend to many, allowing people to violently maim and murder, or simply humiliate, one another over vast distances. While PC gamers enjoyed the benefits of cross-country competition from the comfort of their own computers since the advent of publicly pervasive internet, it would take the then humble console market many more years to fully adopt the concept, move it into the living room, and then thoroughly dominate it.
You know the joke.
I'm not much of a competitive gamer, not anymore, but I still value the considerable advances made in the field of interconnectivity. As the average gaming populace has aged, they've moved apart, necessitating a fundamental shift in how multiplayer functions. Most people, myself included, don't have "the ol' gang" around to crash on the couch and game with anymore, if even ever at all. The internet, however, helps provide that virtual living room to play in together. No, it's not the same as having friends around, but it's the next best thing. Those days have unfortunately long since gone, the internet is both the present and the future of multiplayer, but that doesn't stop one from fondly remembering the past.
Back in my day, which I'm fairly certain was the roaring '90s, if this old memory still serves, me and my pals had to play side by side one another. We weren't fortunate enough to live near an arcade, or likely to have had the money to spend on one in the first place, but we made due with our tried but true SNES's and N64's. The glory days of local multiplayer, many may say, and at the time we'd have agreed, assuming we were smart enough to understand what you hypothetical fancy future people were talking about in the first place. Having little else to do besides school, so in fact having nothing else to do as we weren't particularly academically conscious at the time, or ever after for that matter, we whiled away the lazy hours in our quiet northern California valley suburb occupying ourselves however we could, which mostly meant playing copious amounts of whatever multiplayer games we could scrounge up at the time, which consisted primarily of Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, Mortal Kombat, Duke Nukem 64, and who knows what else because I've clearly forgotten.
For my sake, and everyone else's who enjoys our interactive medium, I'm glad that the internet wasn't as much a "thing" back then as it is now, or at least that we were blissfully unaware of it, for the most part. Particularly that modern social media hadn't even been considered yet, much less invented, as otherwise our ensuing stupidity would have made us poster-children for exactly why the masses and their media love to say we kids shouldn't be playing these evil little grey cartridges: We beat the SNOT out of each other.
Let me drop a truth bomb on the audience:
Gaming causes violent behavior...
...only in individuals predisposed to violence.
Which pretty much means "kids," especially boys, doubly so pubescent boys. Fiery little spitballs of energy and rage, they be. I should know, I was one once. Doesn't help matters any when your "close knit group of friends" are actually just your cousins, who are annoying and you don't particularly care for, but you don't have anyone else your age you're close to or comfortable playing with, so you suffer their company because they live next door and the parents decided it'd be best (read:forced) to share games and thus you have little choice in the matter. So, what's the best thing for a bunch of kids, hopped up on hormones and who don't really like each other to do? Why, play violent competitive videogames, of course!What could possibly go wrong?
The answer to that question? Obviously EVERYTHING. And it was the most fun we ever had.
Online gaming is nice, great even, but what do you do with all that pent up frustration over xXxCoDSniperELiT3xXx camping your hapless ass for the uptinth-billion time in a row? Toss your controller? That just wastes money. Throw a hissy fit? Makes you look silly. Complain on the internet? Now the little prick is humiliating you in front of everyone without even trying. BUT, what if he/she/whatever was sitting right beside you? You'd smack the little wanker in the mouth, that's what!
That'll teach you to play videogames!
Local multiplayer isn't for everyone, that much we've established, but where it's possible it's damned good fun. Flash back to my youth and we didn't have disputes or frustration or trolling, we had fist fights. Don't like your opponent abusing Liu Kang's flip kick? (We sucked at Mortal Kombat.) Kick him instead! Bastard used a blue shell and knocked you out of first place? (We also sucked at Mario Kart.) He gets the blue CONTROLLER to the face! Fucker wouldn't stop hogging ledges and taunting you? (We sucked [slightly less] at SSB as well.) Take the nearest sturdy object, most probably the console (I swear the GameCube was built as a weapon, why else have a conveniently placed handle?) and SMASH his "Bros."
The humble GameCube. Excellent ball-buster.
Encase you couldn't tell, none of my cousins in this scenario, or myself for that matter, are girls. Were we, I doubt we'd be quite as violent, though we'd likely find more creative ways of being viscous in retaliation to one another. Little girls may be deceptively cute, but make'em mad and and they're fucking scary. At least they were when I was a kid, and that's coming from someone who regularly got into comically violent fits of rage with his "friends" for little to no reason.
Pure, adorable EVIL.
Despite the damage, it wasn't all hatred and headlocks. All things considered, it was actually a whole lot of fun. Maybe not for our parents, but screw'em! We were kids! What'd we care?
When we weren't smacking each other around over vapid virtual victories, we were being irresponsible in all sorts of other hilarious and dangerous ways. Again, "poster-children for how NOT to allow videogames to influence you:" We'd make-believe our favorite games and fight one another with fake swords, real swords, fake guns, water guns, pellet guns, BB guns, anything we could throw, anything we could swing, anything we could SMASH, and then, the coup de grace, ALL OF THE ABOVE ON A TRAMPOLINE. (Sans safety net.)
My Childhood: The Animation.
Why did we do this? Where were our parents!? HOW DID WE NOT KILL OURSELVES!? That I couldn't say. It was never quite as bad it sounds. I may have embellished slightly, but we were occasionally violent, often hysterically so, mostly over videogames we were mutually terrible at, and those are some of my fondest childhood memories. Those days will never come again. For one, we're all older now, much more distant, and slightly more stable. Plus, if we ever did get that bad again we likely would kill each other. Violence isn't always the answer, but sometimes it's at least the most immediately satisfying conclusion, and while the internet helps establish communities like Destructoid and bring us all together, nothing can quite make up for the ability to gleefully rip one another apart. Figuratively speaking, of course.