But I digress, again. Now, I wasn't down with all the facets of multiplayer in WoW. I was out picking herbs one day and a passing priest apparently took offense at my blatant exploitation of mother nature and challenged me to a duel. Several times, in fact, but each time I blew him off and got back to my flower arranging, like one of those mysterious placid old monks in martial arts films who will suddenly flip out and ruin someone's shit with the right provocation, only without the shit ruining part. And whenever I passed an Alliance loser in the contested territories I generally just kept on driving and hoped they had better things to do than start shit. Except one guy who came up and killed me while I was in the middle of fighting a big boss, because the cheap fuck had the gall to still be around after I resurrected so I Mirror Imaged his ass en croute.
There was a common thread here that made me realize something about myself, and it caused a lot of things to fall into place. I can't possibly hate multiplayer blanketly because that's the kind of thing that would characterise a total saddo with no friends, which I'm clearly not. I've enjoyed playing games like Left 4 Dead and Little Big Planet and System Shock 2 with the co-op patch, which sparked an enjoyable evening of yelling instructions to my partner in the next room. But I rarely play the competitive games available in the Mana Bar, getting exhausted by them very fast and preferring to stand by the bar glowering at everyone else's fun. I liked the jib of the Assassin's Creed Brotherhood multiplayer but could only tolerate actually playing it for short bursts. And I hate watching or participating in team sports, which dates back to being forced to play high school rugby in my shorts in weather so cold you'd have to run your hands under the hot tap in the changing room afterwards because your fingers were too numb to do your shirt buttons up.
And this all paints a picture of one thing: that I don't hate multiplayer in itself, I just hate competitive multiplayer. I'm fine until I'm expected to pit my skills against those of another and then I just get edgy. And I think I have a good grasp on why. It's because I have half of a competitive streak. When I say "half" I mean that a full competitive streak means that you love winning and hate losing, whereas I just hate losing and aren't particularly fussed about winning. So on the whole, from an accounting standpoint, it makes more sense just to not play at all. I play games to escape from the misery of daily life, not to feel all pressured from having to prove I'm better at some small meaningless task than some cunt in Illinois.
I'm not saying there shouldn't be competitive games. I understand why competitive sports exist, it's important to know who's the best at something, it's just that I know I'm not going to be the best on any world stage and I'd rather just accept that about myself. I hate it when online flash games only have global high score tables, rather than your own personal bests so you know what you're trying to beat. The world is big enough a place that there is always, always going to be someone sadder than you. Except you, Sadpants McGee.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.