Cooperative Games

I know I'm sounding old

Since I was a kid I've been playing computer games. I guess I'm one of the first generation of children who's been privileged with some form of on-screen gaming experiences pretty much all their lives. However I've not been much of a hard-core gamer. Sure I've had periods when I've played more games than I should have, but nothing close to unhealthy. The strange thing is, that I've never seen games as something that you do to win a game against your friends. I've never really valued a victory and I've never really cared about a defeat.
I remember some of the classic games that I used to play with my friends, and we had a really good time. Notice I said with my friends, not against my friends.

Classic games weren't gory

In the old days games weren't gory, simply because the crunching power didn't exist. You couldn't do blood splatter or something like that. All you had was a bunch of lame graphics and if you were lucky more sound than an early mobile phone. Consecutively the game makers had to focus on the gameplay rather than the looks.
This inspired to some really nifty games, such as Tetris for example. What a genius game. Also different games where you had to complete missions, The Incredible Machine and Lemmings spring to mind. I guess my all-time-favourites must be the Leisure Suit Larry and the other Sierra Quest series, like Police Quest and Space Quest. Amazing fun. In these games you had to use your brain and solve puzzles and think logically. Even if you didn't actually physically play the games with your friends, you did talk about how to solve the game, together, as friends. Helping one and another out. That's a Good Thing.

And then comes the First Person Shooters

Castle Wolfenstein was the first First Person Shooter (FPS), but the first really successful one was Doom. Today Doom is still so successful that it's being ported to pretty much every platform you can think of, including iPods, mobile phones, web browsers, etc.

The new thing with the FPS games were that you saw the world just like you see it in your day to day life. But instead of portraying your boring life in 3D, the only right thing to portray is yourself with a massive gun splattering aliens/monsters/zombies/fellow humans.

Don't get me wrong; I think FPS games are pieces of art and the gameplay is very immersive. I think that you can't get much closer to a realistic experience with todays technology.

After Doom there was Duke Nukem 3D, and then came Quake, and then came tons of other ones and today we have more FPS type games than you can shake a stick at. The Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Halo being some of my favourites.

Other types of games

There's a few other major categories of games, namely

  • Sports games (Football, Basketball, American Football, Ice hockey etc)
  • Driving games
  • Fighting games
  • Simulator games (The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon etc)
  • Fun games (Tetris, etc)

and then there's a bunch of mixed games that cross categories and so on.
Personally I have no interest in Fighting or Sports games. I like driving games to a certain degree, but having your own "driving game" in form of a motorcycle tends to dull the experience quite a lot. I love some fun-games, but most of them aren't innovative anymore. In the early years I did spend a conseiderable time playing Sim City and Transport Tycoon, which I loved.

But there hasn't been any real new ideas on games since computers started crunching 3D. The games have primarily become more elaborate, louder, visually stunning, and more violent. Prime example of "needless violence" would probably be Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Again, don't get me wrong' I don't really mind violent games between adults, but younger persons take great influence from their surroundings and they do need to see that one cannot (or should not) live a life such as in the virtual San Andreas.

The games I'd like to see

When I want to play a game I'm either bored (read "can't be bothered to do something productive"), or I've got friends around and we're looking for some entertainment. If I'm bored most of the games I have at home are just fine, they're one-player-games and some of them feature online play so I can link up with other players, and as I don't know them, I don't mind splattering their virtual bodies around a pixelated texture.
But on the other hand if I have friends around, or if the occasion is simply switching a DVD or TV program for some gamepad action with my girlfriend, then I don't want to be chasing my girlfriend or my friend around a virtual world trying my best to explode them into pieces.

I know that I can play FPS games in cooperative mode, and I actually do. It's really nice, however I've still not come across a game on the Xbox where I can save the cooperative play. I either have to play levels I've already played in single-player mode, or I just can't save the game and have to leave the Xbox on forever. Point is; cooperative gameplay is always a secondary priority than single-player gameplay, sadly.

I would rather have a game that allows us to focus on something nicer, and something that we can do together as a team. Solve problems, or cover each others weaker aspects, or explore new worlds, etc.
If the game looks and sounds good, that's cool, but it doesn't really matter. The thing that matters is that we're having a great time. Now that would be a good game!.

Why not have games where you can be several players, like the analogue board games I used to play when I was a child; Monopoly, Cluedo and so forth. Not very long ago a few "social games" were released, these include the music trivia game for PS2 (don't know the name of it).

Wouldn't it be nice if

... Kids and grown-up-kids would invite friend over to help them play games. Wouldn't it be nice to hear "Come on over one evening, I've got this game that I need a bit of help with", or "We can have a beer and then we'll crack on with the game a bit". Rather than "Come over to my place and help me blow the world to pieces"... Not very nice.

If you're a gamer, you've probably noticed that I'm not a hard-core-gamer. That's right, I admit it. Despite that, I think I'm representing quite a large piece of the grown-up-kids who like to have fun, but won't sacrifice the rest of my "life". I have tons of "other stuff to do", but at the same time, I'd like to keep my mind alert and relax with a bit of social gameplay.

I think it's time that the games industry comes out with a new game that focuses on gameplay, intelligence and social aspects of gaming.