I prefer single player games over multiplayer ones. As a child, most of the video games I owned were single player, like Mario games, and my sister and I would just trade off each level. My first experiences with multiplayer games were with fighting games. I was terrible at them, and as such avoided them my whole life. A few short interactions with Smash Bros. served to further my wide berth.
When I began playing World of Warcraft, I realized that great gameplay wouldn’t make me prefer multiplayer. I knew very few people who played MMOs, and some of the quests required multi-person parties and I simply didn’t have anyone to play with. What should have been a fun, collaborative experience was instead a dark and twisted place where everyone but me had a friend to play with. The few times that I did get to play with my friend were very fun, but it was near impossible to coordinate our schedules. I wasn’t interested in teaming up with strangers because I wasn't sure if they would be nice, but more than that I was afraid that they wouldn't accept me. For example, I was once called a ‘slut’ by another player in WoW simply because I took a quest item that was about to respawn.
A World of Warcraft conversation snippet. The item respawned just moments later.
The other day I was playing New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii with some friends, and it was too easy to be knocked into lava by another player. As a quick session with no intention of real progress, this was fine. Party games are an absolute blast and they have merit. I love Mario Party, but I rarely have people to play with. But this as a way of consistently playing future games? No thank you.
I enjoy being able to play games at my own pace and not have to depend on the availability of another person (like my experience with WoW). Originally, the single player campaign on consoles was more fleshed out, whereas the multiplayer campaigns depended on playing repeat levels with minimal story. Throw in online multiplayer and you are reminded that not everyone is fun to play with. In most first person shooters played multiplayer, one is required to be teamed up with or fight against strangers, and some of them will be very profane and angry.
A small example of the brilliant sophistication present in World of Warcraft
and other online multiplayer games.
As a whole, I prefer games that are predominantly made with only a single player campaign. Adventure games, platformers, and role playing games lend themselves well to one person in one story. The larger issue at hand is when developers create a short single player game, then tack on multiplayer and expect that to be the majority of the sustenance. Seeing as multiplayer is very popular and has many merits (social aspects, having a community, and competition among them), I’m not lobbying for their demise. I am, however, insisting that their rising popularity should not come at the detriment of robust single player campaigns.
What are your thoughts? Do you favor one over the other?