[Dtoider Blindfire tells us about the awesome feeling of playing with others, praising the collective experience of gaming as much as traditional multiplayer. Is that what brings us all here today? Want to see your own writing on the front page? Write something awesome and put it in the C Blogs. -- Kauza]
Last night I sat down to play some Advanced Wanted in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Normal enough, right? I didn't think much of it at the time either, until my brother wandered on through to see what I was up to. Two hours later, we were both still sitting there, glued to the screen. I'm playing, and he's perched next to me like a stalwart guide; a second pair of eyes, of ears, and a second brain computing all the same information I am, independently of my own analysis. A second brain available, with different views, different cognitive structure, different needs. Not tied down by the invisible wires of execution, the thrill of the chase, or the fear of the hunt. Completely unbiased, relaxed, and aware. More than a spectator and less than a player. Something bordering on omniscient, a specter perched on my shoulder to warn me of things or provide insights that my own mortal eyes do not perceive.
There I was, strolling through the marketplace, seeking my target. A clever Doctor with a taste for the Morph ability, he was perched within a group he'd changed to look like himself. Damn! Same tactic I use when I'm in the lead, and here I am, stumped by the same problem I use to fool those on my trail; detection of any kind seems to be a rare choice for abilities in Brotherhood's multiplayer. As I stood there, stumped as to how I was going to accomplish my task of assassination with my chosen loadout, Morph and Smoke Grenades, I took half a moment to blend with a little group and think about my problem. No solution came to mind, until my brother spoke up.
I was stunned. How had this insight escaped me? I had the tool to solve this problem, but I couldn't see it! I was so focused, so intent on my prey that I lost sight of my own capabilities. I could not see the forest for the trees. So, I walked up into the group, morphed the lot, and was promptly hit by Fireworks and stunned in short order. But still! The insight of the moment struck me as a glorious thing, something I had to take some time to talk about. And so, here we are, fellow Dtoiders, to discuss what I will dub "The Group Dynamic" of videogames.
My brother and I have been doing this gaming... symbiosis, I suppose is a good way to put it, basically since we started playing games. Many of our early forays into the digital realm were single player only, which relegated one of us to the backseat, always. Even when the games had a cooperative option or some kind of versus, we were stuck with the single player; we didn't have enough money for another controller. But we were both in love with gaming, and so we would sit together, one playing and the other watching intently, providing analysis and a second pair of eyes to see what the other missed, for hours on end. We became heat sinks for one another's anger, a calming and relaxed presence to joke with and retain levity. It became natural. A habit which remains part of our lives to this day.
Without any kind of poking or prodding at all, we appear to find within ourselves this compulsion to share with one another and be a part of something wider and grander than just our own life. In videogames, the transition from one to two, and from two to many, is so shockingly effortless I hardly took the time to think about it before today. Consider, how much has your own experience with your games been changed by other people? Sometimes people you've never talked to, never seen, and may never meet!
The only thing you can know about them is that they love games, and somehow, some way, that alone is enough.