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P2: The Proximity of Play


All it took was a word, or even a knowing smirk, for the call to action to happen. The roommates milled about the living room or study, reading books or chatting or cooking dinner for each other and it would all start with someone declaring “To Paragon City!” For the next few hours, we’d ignore adult responsibilities and pummel henchmen into dust.

We composed fake character dialog, mocked each other in the friendliest sense, and even created our own phrases. When Mistress Façade inflicted her blind power on an enemy, my roommate would shout, “They’ve been blound!” This being a word he had decided was the past tense of ‘to blind.’ It stuck and never ceased to get a laugh. Gaining aggro was simply called making friends and our tank character was certainly a popular guy. We made our own sound effects and mocked terribly designed heroes that whizzed past. We wandered about Atlas Park and interacted with other heroes, emoting and engaging in repartee with complete strangers.

Our sprawling headquarters was meticulously designed with trophies of our victories. We didn’t power through instances or sit alone at our desks, grimly leveling our characters in the dark, in crippling silence. We bragged and jeered and did absolutely everything as a team. We shouted tactical advice and demanded heals and revives. If you walked into a session of the Protectorate Unlimited knee-deep in vigilante crime-fighting, you wouldn’t understand a moment of what was happening, but the jovial atmosphere would be indisputably apparent.

Since those days at the three-story house up on the sloped street, across from the dingy laundromat, I’ve never been able to return to MMOs in the same way. In fact, multiplayer gaming as a whole has never quite had the same feeling as it did for that year-long LAN party. Online gaming has taken massive strides with things like Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam making the act of playing with friends the easiest thing ever. But no more are the days of phoning your friend to read off an IP address or pack up your duct taped PC into someone’s basement or guest room.

In a way, this is something to be lauded. LAN parties were complicated and inconvenient, sure, but the experience is irreplaceable. Multiplayer, whether it’s competitive or cooperative, can happen spontaneously now, with a button press and a notification pop-up. But, with it, we have to say goodbye to the days where players would disappear from reality for a weekend to shout at each other and fall asleep at their desks. The days were playing online games with your friends looked more like a party than a lonely endeavor, albeit an often predominately gender imbalanced party. The modern inventions of Ventrillo and party chat are incredible advancements for social gaming. But nothing can quite replace that perfect storm of friendly jeers, vocal teamwork, and utter chaos that was the LAN party.
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About AwesomeExMachinaone of us since 6:13 PM on 07.28.2009

Twenty four years ago I was adorable. Now I'm inquisitive and hilarious.

I have a plastic tooth to replace one lost in a mosh pit during my more ridiculous high school years. I speak shitty German and I ride a bike. My Xbox gets so much use, I'm sometimes embarassed. But I'm unemployed, so my time is spent writing blogs on the internet, reading good literary fiction, and playing video games.

In the grand scale of things, I'm a late-bloomer. My parents banned all consoles from my house as a kid. See what you've done? Now I game constantly to make up for years of lost time.

I won't list my favorites, because you've probably seen ten lists like it before me.

There's a life-sized Boba Fett standee in my living room.

No Clip Series:
Grand Theft Auto IV
Fallout New Vegas
Red Dead Redemption

The Slapstick Cephalopod: An Interview with the Octodad Team
Chicago Night Fights: Marvel vs Capcom 3
Inventing the Paint: An Interview with Author Tom Bissell
Top 10 Greatest Tiny Video Game Characters

Front-Paged Monthly Musings:
Groundhog Day: The Liberty to Pursue
Teh Bias: Critical Errors at Surface Level
Alternate Reality:Time for a new job
Something About E3: Imaginings from 20 Years Ago
The Great Escape: Tiny plastic guitars and wiimotes
My Expertise: Latent Racial Bonus
The Future: Overdoing the Over-the-Top
Love/Hate: A Gentleman's Baffling Love for Collecting Furniture
Nothing is Sacred: Games Taking Themselves Too Seriously

Worth reading:
We Are Destructoid
Writing on the Wall: How Graffiti Builds Universes
Combating Lawlessness in the Wild West of Red Dead Redemption
Being a Coward on Purpose
What Bringing About the Fictional Zombie Apocalypse Taught Me About Game Design
Why Video Game Designers Need to Watch the Road Warrior
The Needless Shit We Gamers Do

Xbox LIVE:The Disco Pony
PSN ID:The Disco Pony


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