Before the internet, cell phones, and Facebook, before Skype, MMORPGS, and VOIP, those of us from the dark age would actually go to each other’s house to play video games together.
All joking aside, and, yes, I realize that the concept of in-person communication being overshadowed by social media and digital communication is not a new one, how many of us really miss the days of couch co-op? I especially realized how much I missed it when I had began entering in-person tournaments in 2017. Instead of my teammates being some nebulous entity with a sly gamer tag and witty voice, my teammates were just actual people, much like teammates on a sports team.
This discussion begs the question “how much of it is adulthood getting in the way of ‘hanging out’ and how much of it is a cultural shift?” It is certainly a little bit of both, but let’s talk about the current landscape for social gaming. My wife and I met around five years ago, and one of the things we both love doing is playing video games. Naturally, we wanted to play together, but we were surprised at the dearth of games that actually supported split screen or any sort of couch co-op. One look at co-optimus.com and you will see what I mean.
We eventually settled on Borderlands (a GREAT game), but I remember a time and place when it wasn’t hard at all to find a game to play with friends in person. After Borderlands, I bought Halo 5, assuming the age-old split screen would be present. To me, Halo represents one of the strongest franchises in couch co-op history. We scoured the internet for hours for answers on why split screen did not exist for Halo 5. We were in denial, and that’s when I knew that it wasn’t just adulthood; things have definitely changed.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE online gameplay. The level of competitive play is super addicting and a blast. But sometimes I really do want to just sit in an armchair and play with a friend, away from the large sea of the internet. If the 8-bit NES could accomplish this, why can’t the current generation of consoles do so?
Maybe it’s demand. Gaming will always be an industry that centers on younger crowds, and it does seem as though the younger gamers have fully adapted to the digital age. What developers are forgetting though is that there is still a large cohort of us that have maintained our passion for gaming and a new couch co-op classic could be a huge hit.
For now, I won’t hold my breath, and will gladly continue to play Tom Clancy’s the Division 2 with my mic and all. I would go to Blockbuster to rent a movie, but it seems those don’t exist anymore either (kappa).