The Monday ‘Joe: Playing Online

The Monday 'Joe

Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.

An online component comes with many current-day games and have been since around the mid-2000s with the growing prominence of MMORPGs. At this point, it’s almost a given that a game will feature an online-based means to allow players to interact with each other, be it through leaderboards to compare scores or player-versus-player matches or co-op campaigns. Whole games have been made dedicated to the multiplayer experience, like Team Fortress 2. Really, the ability to play a game with other people has been popular; it’s just become easier to do with the growth of technology and an increasing number of people gaining persistent Internet connections.

So here’s this week’s question:

Do you play online, be it through MMORPGs or another kind of game? Why or why not?

Mohamed Al Saadoon: The real question for this Monday ‘Joe should be, “Do you play online? If you don’t, literally what cave have you been living in for the past five years?”

If you have a PS3, Xbox 360, or especially a PC and have not played online (I’ll omit the Wii for obvious reasons), then you are a freak of nature more suited to being displayed in a zoo or some anthropological institute.

I play a lot of games online. The vast majority of my time is spent in multiplayer despite being a guy who likes single-player experiences. Part of this is due to the inherent replay value of multiplayer. Part of it is also because publishers insist that online multiplayer be included in games that don’t need them so they can tick a box in their what-games-ought-to-be checklist, right under remove-cheat-codes-and-sell-them-as-DLC.

But the only MMORPG experience I have is with the old Nexon game, Maple Story. When I hit level 20, I saw the thing that turned me off from most MMORPGs: intense grind. It becomes more like work as the developers seek and strive to milk you of those sweet, sweet monthly subscriptions, though Maple Story was F2P.

So I’ll just stick to online shooters and strategy games for the time being, with some fighting games on the side. Man, I love GGPO and Supercade.

Aileen Coe: I played more online when I was younger. I put in a good number of hours into Phantasy Star Online on the Xbox, trading items and running through dungeons and bosses with people. I also used to play Conquer Online and Ragnarok for a time. At some point, I tapered off partly because of my computer becoming more obsolete gaming-wise.

Nowadays, I have some games I could play online, but I don’t actually play online much. Part of that is due to a lack of people to play with. Another reason is that I’ve leaned more towards games with some semblance of an end and games I could put down anytime if needed, not so much towards MMOs. Plus, I have a massive bakclog to work through; and at the rate I’m going, I’ll probably never run out of things to play. That’s not to say I’ve sworn off online gaming completely, as I’d consider jumping into something like Phantasy Star Online 2 and Guild Wars 2. I’d also be open to a game in a Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, and Dungeon Defenders.

Connor Horn: Yes, I do play online. In fact, a large portion of my gaming has been online, mostly due to the fact that I played an unhealthy amount of League of Legends this past year. This isn’t to say that my appetite for single-player games diminished because I enjoyed games like Skyrim and Portal 2 immensely (although I liked Morrowind more). However, a good bit of my gaming has become more social and involved than before, and I think that’s why it’s important for me to find online games. I could play Minecraft, Civilization V, or League of Legends with my friends on Skype, and it was that kind of social edge that ultimately made me choose to play those games over others. I feel a lot of gamers are coming to a similar place and that gaming is transforming, even if only just partially, into a more social activity than it has been in the past. Games used to be quiet, personal endeavors that engaged you directly. Now, more and more games are trying as hard as they can to include as many of your friends as they can possibly fit. It’s why games like Portal 2, which was clearly a single-player title, also come with a co-op mode.

Simply put, playing online is fun. While single-player titles are far from boring, I feel that nine times out of ten, a game that you can share feels better than a game you can’t do that with.

Nathan Wood: It’s funny that this topic came up this week because the last few months would be right up there in terms of how little I’ve played online. In fact, I’ve been on the hunt for an online game that a significant number of my friends also had to sink my teeth into, but to no avail. Sure, I could always pick up the newest Call of Duty every year and stick that out with my group of friends for a few months, but frankly I’m on the market for something a bit different.

When it first came out, I thought Battlefield 3 could fill that void in my heart. The focus on teamwork, vehicular combat, bigger maps, and destructive environments had me more than interested in the hope that it would become a mainstay in my online gaming catalogue. Alas, after a bit over a two months, I moved on. Before that, it was Killzone 3, which for whatever reason never truly clicked with me. Uncharted 3 also didn’t hold my attention as much as its predecessor did, and I’m not an MMO guy, so to say it’s been a dry spell in the online realm would be an understatement.

I’m not sure if it’s that nothing is really capturing my attention, that I’ve missed a key release that will whet my appetite, or if online gaming has been in a slump lately, but I can’t seem to find a title that really speaks to me as of late. Outside of a Minecraft server a few friends and myself boot up about once a week, I’ve been relatively quiet on the online side of things. I’m hoping something comes along soon that will change that for a significant amount of time. Either that, or maybe I should go against my natural avoidance of MMOs and pick up The Secret World.

Christopher Bowen: Call me the Dinosaur.

It’s a rare day when I go online to play against other people. Even in my online-capable games, I stick to single-player modes. In NBA 2K12, I stick to My Player. NHL ’12, I stick to franchise mode. Lately, it’s been a lot of GameCube games, and even my cell phone games of choice have been offline, single-player games by Kairosoft and Kemco that could just as easily have been Game Boy games in a different era. I joined the online compulsory age, got scared, and ran back to the sanctity of the previous twenty years of gaming.

Simply put, I don’t have the time for online gaming. I don’t have the time for Team Fortress 2 anymore. Due to this, the skills I developed years ago have atrophied and I can no longer effectively play some classes. I don’t have time to play NHL ’12 online, so my character has low stats. Even if I tried, I’d just be a pylon/tackling dummy, independent of my own skill level. I don’t even have the time to find clans or pubs where this wouldn’t be an issue! I have neither the time nor the inclination to become competitive in the games that I would even want to play, and due to this, I tend not to bother anymore. At best, it’s a timesink. At worst, it’s a timesink where thousands of self-diagnosed Asperger patients who’ve invested countless hours use me as a punching bag.

I’ve never had time for MMOs and have even less inclination to play pay-to-win— I mean, “freemium” games, which instead of just taking a set amount of money a month use competency as a hostage of sorts. “Oh, sure, you can play for free instead of paying $30 to get these high-stat items. By all means. Hate to see something happen to you, though.” Forgive me for being old and set in my ways, but when I pay for a game, I expect the fucking game. I don’t expect or want to pay bits and pieces for even more of the experience, all for the “privilege” of being called names by Little Timmy, Aged Eleven.

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