Recently I haven’t been gaming as much which is why I haven’t posted on TAY. However, despite my lack of gaming participation, my gaming habits have stayed on my mind. The thing that has kept nagging at me lately is the realization that multiplayer games may not be for me.
“Why not?” the fictional audience might ask. I think the answer may be relatively simple in my case but a little back story first.
I grew up during the era of couch co-op. Any multiplayer interaction I may have had happened on my couch or a friends couch not online. That also means that online anonymity was not a thing. If I was going to talk shit to my friends about their play style I had to do it to their faces. Needless to say, while that never deterred my shit talking, I may have chosen my taunts with more care. It also meant that I got to vet who I played my games with so 9/10 I knew what I was getting into.
The other issue is the genre that I choose to play for my gaming. I love JRPGS and visual novels. A majority of those games are single player experiences that feel more like a moving book that I get to participate. In these kinds of games the characters and worlds were the only “people” I needed to be concerned about.
I wasn’t completely truthful when I said I only play single player games. About 2 years ago, I ventured into the depths of Final Fantasy 14 (FF14), a MMORPG. I ended up there because Final Fantasy 15 was looking more like a game I wouldn’t enjoy. (I was right personally on that by the way). FF14 was looking more like the Final Fantasies of yore so I had to give it a try even if I was about 3 or 4 years late to the party if you count the failed 1.0 iteration.
At first I played the game as a single player experience. The story called for that level of dedication and attention. I looked up guides, videos and whatever information I needed because I knew at SOME point I was going to have to deal with other humans. The game made it relatively painless with the duty finder to find willing participants tackling the same content. Some spoke, others didn’t. I asked questions when applicable and finished the dungeons. No harm, No foul. Then, I joined a Free Company (FC), the FF14 version of guilds, and that was the beginning of the end.
Personality wise, I’m friendly. I’m also nosy as hell. If people were in the chat offering tidbits of their lives of course I’m going to ask for more details. But after a while you start to realize that these are real people with real feelings, real problems and real expectations. That realization started my existential crisis.
Some of my guild mates had mental health disorders, experienced deaths in the family, suicidal ideations, had crushes on FC mates etc. This was starting to feel more like the outside life that I use games to take a break from.
Luckily this was my only multiplayer game but I realized I needed to take a step back. While this is just a “game” I also realize people form bonds and meaningful relationships in this medium too. I had to assess why I played games in the first damn place. Games had become my de-escalation tool. I’m an adult to be sure, but games always held something special for me. They were my moving, talking, colorful and progressing story books and “real” people were getting in the way.
In conclusion to my thoughts, I’m still going to play FF14. But once the content dries up and/or the servers die I don’t know if I will ever venture into another multiplayer world again. I’m well aware of how to potentially deal with toxic personalities online or otherwise by the way. The issue is that when it comes to MY gaming I don’t WANT to deal with it there. Gaming has a specific role for me and I won’t let IRL things taint it in that regard.
I want to leave whoever reads this ramble of thoughts with this in mind. In this day an age it is important for everyone to take care of themselves. Hobbies, no matter what they are as long as they are healthy, are important for us to maintain some measure of sanity. For anyone wondering, I do enjoy interacting with people and do so outside of gaming with relative ease. But I also thing that it is okay to have a space or an activity where you can say, this is for me and I don’t want any intruders of any kind there.
What are your thoughts about the online gaming community TAY family? How do you deal with multiplayer communities? Do you prefer online games and if so, why? Let me know in the comments.
Until Next Time,