Why do we play video games?

This is a question that can be answered in a million different ways. But I think it's safe to say that one of the main reasons we play is to immerse ourselves in a new world with an enticing story or atmosphere. However, games with story are not necessarily the top selling games of today. Even Cliff Bleszinksi, game designer known for Unreal and Gears of War, admits in a podcast with Kevin Pereira that the younger generation has got it right when they say "multiplayer sells."

Part 1 can be found here!

So why then do we play multiplayer games? They rarely have story, so what makes them so intriguing?

Expression

Jesse Schell, who in his book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, states "When players get a chance to express themselves, it makes them feel alive, proud, important, and connected." and that "…the most expressive online experience one can have is through multiplayer game worlds." Every choice and movement the player makes is influenced by their personality. Thus, online games are filled with similar digital characters that are mainly distinguished by the personalities of the people controlling them.

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In the Super Smash Bros Documentary, competitive player 'Wife' says "You can see the style in a person's character, and that to me is incredible." when talking about the top players competing. Online games give us the ability to express ourselves in a virtual arena through an avatar.

In eSports, or any other type of competitive gaming you are familiar with, and you will see the professional players are probably not using any special game discs, weapons, or maps compared to the public versions of the game. Usually the only differences between the two are the rulesets and restrictions the professionals impose on themselves to make the game more competitive, and higher quality equipment such as mics, controllers, or computer mice. But it is mostly how the players play the game and the skills that they showcase that brings in hundreds of thousands to millions of viewers.

Asymmetrical Gameplay

So now how do we tie this into asymmetrical multiplayer games such as Dead Space 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines mentioned in Part 1?

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Well if we look at what is unique about these games it is that we not only get to play as human soldiers, but also as monsters. Monsters that have no weapons other than the attacks unique to each individual creature. It is also very important in these games for the monsters to use the terrain and environment to their advantage, as human's normally have the health and ranged weaponry advantages.

Taking the two main attributes of these monsters: unique fighting abilities and adapting to terrain, we get very similar attributes of predators in ecosystems. And surprisingly the deeper we dig, the more similarities that might be able to be drawn between asymmetrical gameplay and predation in the real world.

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So if you thought you didn't know how to hunt like a wolf or "harass" a lion like the African buffalo, then you might be in for a surprise.

(to be continued…)