Thursday, February 20, 2014

Discussion #5 - Player Vs. Player Competition

There are many reasons why we play video games. Sometimes we just sit back and play games because we want to have the feeling of accomplishing a solo adventure in a campaign mode that involves Player 1 only. Other times we we play video games because we need to since it's our job. Game testers would know what I am talking about since they spend countless hours playing games to find all sorts of bugs, glitches and errors. Here is one reason that I will highlight for this discussion. Gamers play video games because they enjoy the thrill of competition. Many gamers are very much of the competitive variety. They want to be challenged by the levels of the game but they also want to be challenged by their friends who are also gamers. Player 1 isn't always the only player in town. Player 2, Player 3 and even Player 4 can show up in town and the gameplay dynamics dramatically change.

What drives Player 1 to go up against Player 2 in certain games? Both players want to have the experience of going head-to-head against each other and they want to have fun playing the same game together. It is a universally accepted fact that video games serve as an outlet for people to socialize with each other and video games encourage one player to play with friends. Some games will require the full experience to be enjoyed by more than one player because otherwise the solo player would just be playing with 3 other computer players and I don't think that is preferred by any of us gamers. Interaction is the key with numerous gamers playing in the same game because you not only get different kinds of reactions to game events but you also get different points of view on the game. Player 1 may like a certain element of a game but Player 2 may be slightly more critical of that same element. Player 3 may love the visually stunning presentation of one part of a game but Player 4 may prefer to have the same presentation scaled back just a teeny bit.

Of course, we can talk about the essence of the multiplayer concept of games, and specifically co-op, but that isn't the core focus of this topic. We will specifically dive into the idea of one player competing against another. In the Video Game Industry there is a market for competitions between gamers and it is a bold concept for companies to explore because competitions do serve as a way to promote video games in general. Considering how popular the video game is competitions may be depended on to keep getting the word out on the game because the "Versus Mode" of the game drives it. Games that are developed for more than one player usually have a wider territory and the more expanded a gaming environment is, the better chance there will be for both Player 1 and Player 2 to enjoy the game. You expand the possibilities of more varying outcomes in a 1-on-1 game in Versus Mode than you would by just keeping it as a single player game. Variety is a basic and effective selling point.

Gaming competitions are held at certain times to test the skills of gamers and these competitions range from platformer game races to the more prominent first person shooter tournaments. Competing in games against other players is one motivating factor for some gamers because the competitions are a driving force. The curiosity of finding out just who is the best at a certain game is present with many gamers. Curiosity leads to creativity and naturally competitions will become involved in the creative process. Competing against another player is a challenge for a gamer. It's an obstacle that the gamer wants to clear.

Competitions provide gamer-friendly environments and competitions create opportunities for game development teams to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their games. From the development team's point of view, if they see that the multiplayer aspect of their game positively balloons into a semi-phenomenon where many gamers all around enjoy then they will most likely take this into consideration when they expand
on the multiplayer aspect of a future installment. It was basically said in Rome in the ancient days "Win the people over" and the one-on-one competitions have won the people over. Of course there will be moments of trash talking and other related over the top actions in some competitions but that does come with the environment, and honestly some playful talk between competitive gamers can only perk up and rejuvenate the mood of the competition itself anyway.

One point I want to highlight is the fact that a gamer can get up for a competition. Gamers want to have as many opportunities as they can to prove that they can play games at least decently. Casual gamers are obviously not serious about getting into competitions because they just want to have a good time and play certain games that appeal to them. Hardcore gamers, on the other hand, are capable of getting serious about getting into competitions and while competing they come to realize that they play certain genres of games better than other genres. For example, a gamer may be awesome at playing in a first person shooter tournament but he will be anything but awesome in a puzzle game contest. Another example would be a gamer who is sharp at playing party games like Mario Party, and yet, he will struggle in racing game grand prix tournaments.

In the future I would love to see game development teams step it up in this department and open up more possibilities of live competitions between gamers. Development teams can bring in more customers if they see games in action in the form of a competition. Potential customers will get to see for themselves what a game is like if a tournament is hosted by the development team, the publishing company of by a video game convention. This would fire up hardcore gamers to play the game and attempt to go deep in a tournament while also encouraging casual gamers to give the game a try and possibly even buy it. I don't see where you could go wrong with such a strategy.

It needs to be noted that there are also two-on-two, three-on-three and four-on-four competitions in gaming but you are more likely to see these competitions in online gaming. Team based competitions have a ton of support and many teams have formed to go to battle. When a team of gamers come together to play a single game there will be some strategy involved since the team will discuss with one another what they want to do. The competition element doesn't begin and end with one-on-one but it can expand depending on how much the game development team wants to expand their vision of the game.

I would love to receive stories from people on gaming competitions. I am sure there are plenty of stories that are just waiting to be told and I would welcome these stories. If you feel like telling me any stories about gaming competitions you have been in just contact me. Contact information is in the Gazette Interviews section.

No comments:

Post a Comment