Why we still need split-screen co-op in the age of the internet.

So since it’s friendship week here at Kill Screen, I wanted to bring something up that’s bothered me more and more in the current generation of gaming. See, I grew up at a time when playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was still the penultimate arcade experience, when LAN-parties of Starcraft and Quake were certainly still incredibly dorky, but nevertheless accepted as a fact of life for the game-friendly. All of this seems to have changed in recent years, as internet-enabled multiplayer experiences have become more vast and intricate yet their real-live equivalents have shrivelled to a marginal section of gaming. David Wong gives an impassioned defense of the form in a recent essay:

Compared to online games, the offline atmosphere is more constructive and less inflammatory. When was the last time your ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, political views and physical appearance were denigrated when playing cooperatively — disregarding the customary trash-talking ubiquitous to sports games like “Madden 12” and first-person shooters like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3?

When you are playing with friends, you’ll often reach a point where each individual is able to contribute to the group effort in some manner, which is magnified by the completion of a game and the feeling of accomplishment that you don’t get online with people that you only know impersonally and who have no pressing obligation to finish anything with you.

There are qualities of cooperative play that you do not get by playing online, such as people that you will actually enjoy playing with in your living room and better communication.

The production of more games that encourage cooperative play could help to establish and cement friendships, and if it is a terrible game, then you can both laugh at it while critiquing its failings.

There are certainly games like the critically-acclaimed Journey that provide a unique twist to the online multiplayer experience. But I still want to see more games out there like Gears of War that support the value of this unique form of friendship in the game’s split-screen co-op design itself.  

Yannick LeJacq

[via Spartan Daily]