The Future of Gaming Is Neither Multiplayer nor Single-Player

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In time, we won’t have to make the choice between playing alone or playing with others.

Amidst all the complexity of modern gaming, there’s one thing that remains blessedly simple: Single player games are for stories and multiplayer games are for proving your dominance over lesser beings, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Except that sometimes they do, and in Issue 270 of The Escapist, N. Evan Van Zelfden says that co-operative “crossplay” will become more common in the future.

Multiplayer offers players the ingenuity and unpredictability of interacting with real people, as well as the emotional high that comes from competition and teamwork. Single player offers the possibility for a deep, rich, and meaningful experience, as well as scripted moments and set-pieces. Fusing the two lets you take all the best parts of both, and keep different audiences satisfied.

[Splash Damage founder Paul] Wedgwood explains if you fail in a cooperative match, you fail against videogame AI – and you fail together with your co-players. The experience of failure is shared, as is the experience of possible victory. But if you fail in multiplayer, you’ve lost the game, while someone else has won. “In a competitive match, half the players fail every single time,” he says. It’s compelling logic, and it underlines that cooperative play is more about players sharing a story.

Van Zelfden looks into the roots of crossplayer games, and talks to some of the people that first began to investigate this fusion of single and multiplayer games. You can read more about it in Van Zelfden’s article “Crossplaying Is the Future.”

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