Cooperative gaming has always been a staple of my gaming diet. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy fragging random strangers but generally this is done with people I know in real Life. You may call it snobbery but I will rarely play cooperative in what is called a PUG or Pickup Group.
My reasons? Numerous, but overall is the fact I know and can place faith in how my regular gaming buddies will react. Whether stomping a comp or fragging Random strangers, this is a much more enjoyable processes with those that you know IRL.
I can honestly say I have never played Resident evil 5/6 with the AI companion nor have I ever played left 4 dead with a Full PUG. I know which of my gaming companions are likely to charge off and murder everything with an machete (generally the wife) and those that will stay behind with a sniper rifle in left 4 dead(Looking at OldTinRibs). The established formula works. Is this because I have played with them before and everyone has accepted a role?
My brother is fairly close in years to me, so growing we always played games together. I would consider myself lucky that I know my brother would have my back when needed, and strangely this carries over into the world of gaming. We are like chalk and cheese, I with my comfy office based job and love of reading, him with his outdoor animal carrying farm work. This again carries across to the gaming world, we have both become archetypes.
NWN, Baldurs gate, diablo…I am always the “wizard” and always the one doing the reading/decisions, my dearest brother will solve the issue with his fists, something else that also carries across to the real world. Ironically his Nickname as a told was “Sherman” as in the Tank, I on the other hand was definitely a four-eyed nerdy wonder 🙂
So, my point has wavered throughout this post and I suppose I am trying to make many points.
Gaming in my opinion is an extension of your personality, try as I might in RPGs to be a complete and utter bastard I cannot. Your companions personalities in game are an extension of them as well, this is why gaming is fantastic with those that you know. Is Gaming providing a moral compass by providing situations for which to deal with or am I overlaying my own moral code into the world?
Jean-Paul Sartre once claimed “Hell is other People” to which I would disagree. Other people in games are the additional flavour, they provide the human element to an otherwise empty avatar. An AI partner or faceless Squadmate doesn’t provide the same level of “care” about the outcome. The advent of the internet and Online games has provided fantastic opportunities for people to play together but somewhere along the way we have lost something. The personal social interaction of gaming in the same room even if it is hurling abuse at a friend for “cheesing” or that GODDAMN SHELL!
“Couch Co-op” is making a small return but I hope it isn’t too little, too late.