I’ve been playing video games, off and on, for the last twenty years. You would think that, over the course of two decades of gaming, one would acquire an advanced skill set. Apparently, I haven’t. When I play a single player game I rarely think about my gaming acumen. A few exceptions aside, I make it through most single player campaigns without any hitches, but throw me into a competitive multiplayer mode and I’ll inevitably find myself near the bottom of the scoreboard at the end of the match. Granted, I’ve never been an elite competitor, especially when it comes to shooters, but it’s gotten to the point where, at the end of the match, I feel ashamed for my lack of contribution. Most of the time my unfortunate teammates are magnanimous enough to not mention my failings, but my pride does take a small hit with every death that goes unavenged.
You wouldn’t be out of line if you asked me why I continually set myself up to fail in a genre I lack skill in. The truth is, I love the feeling I get while playing a shooter. It’s the closest I’ve come, as an adult, to the thrill I would get playing hide and seek, as a child.
I’m currently in the beta for MAG, a competitive First Person Shooter by Zipper Interactive, the developer who created the SOCOM series on Playstation 2. In scope, MAG is a pretty epic experience. Where most console shooters have 16 or 32 players per match, MAG can support up to 256 players in the same match. From the outside a game with such a high player count may seem like a recipe for chaos, but Zipper has done an excellent job of placing objectives in front of the player, while encouraging a focus on said objectives by awarding more experience points to the players who stay on point than to those who decide to play the role of the “lone wolf.”
In spite of being segmented into squads of 8 players, I am part of a larger team. My personal successes and failures have less of an effect on outcome of the match than they would if I were playing on a game with a player count of 16 or 32.
In a genre where finishing first is the primary goal, I take consolation that my failures on the battlefield of MAG are often insignificant.