Multiplayer gaming started as a few guys hauling oversized boxes of computer equipment to someoneâ€™s house with the intent to consume copious amounts of pizza and videogames. With the introduction of broadband internet itâ€™s now a lone guy hauling oversized boxes of pizza to his own house with the intent of consuming copious amounts of videogames and pizza. That, dear readers, is what we call progress.
Broadband and online gaming continue to grow together as both are big business keep corporate suits scrotum deep in hookers and blow. But while the online community is growing in size, itâ€™s not doing much in terms of refinement.Â Simply put, while there are vastly more gamers online today, you may not enjoy the company of many of the, or in fact any of them. Â And the few that meet your stringent social standards (HA!) are especially hard to track down. So whatâ€™s the solution? A culling via mass genocide? Well sure, thatâ€™s always the obvious answer. But in the interim, a few progressive steps may be taken to improve online play for all involved. Youâ€™ll continue to enjoy not using the lower half of your body, save for the occasional bowel movement, and that poor corporate sod wonâ€™t have to ration his coke or order a lower tier hooker. Win win, baby!
You could write a laundry list of problems that pertain to playing online. Rebuffed as I was at my attempt of submitting an actual laundry list we have to make due with a series of articles tackling three key issues that may have a ripple affect that improves and enhances our time online.
You may expect the discussion to start with maybe lag, the high cost of gaming, or Cliff Bleszinski, all gaming issues that need solutions. Mostly these annoyances solve themselves as time goes on. Net-coding is something developers and game companies look to improve steadily. As broadband expands it will improve latency. We can also hope that the spread of broadband will cause prices to drop either in regards to our service providers or in membership fees for services like XBL. As for â€śCliffyBâ€ť, even metrosexual gnomes are susceptible to the passing of time, changes in taste and assassination attempts. Â No, the first real issue that needs addressing is much more obvious and insidious.
The first issue is people.
Itâ€™s a well established fact that people ruin everything. Just look around you. Earth? Ruined by people. The internet? Sullied by the extension of the human psyche. This article? It was fine until you showed up. Your favorite pass time online (besides porn and perusing this site) is not any safer from the corruption that is humanity.
Game companies want more users to go online. To this end market reps routinely sell the idea that the digital landscape is an inviting place. After all itâ€™s populated by multi-demographical fresh faced, â€śextrovertedâ€ť mouth-breathers who attend Homogeny University and major in Hipster. Who wouldnâ€™t want to hang out with those guys?
Whether or not you enjoy the company of hipster trash is debatable. But the idea is that your time online will be spent alongside well-adjusted young adults who are looking to extend their social interaction to the digital realm. Cool people vegging out on the couch just like you!
However if you can count to potato or have spent any time on the internet you know this is false. Most of your interactions online are with baby faced, â€śintrovertedâ€ť revenants all attending grade school who are taking AP classes in Douche.
You might want to do a great many things with these people. Spray them with Raid. Hurl them into an open flame. But you definitely donâ€™t want to be social with them. Worse still they are anonymous. The Greater Internet FuckwadÂ Theory clearly states that providing anonymity to your average sociopath is a bad idea in the same way that providing enriched uranium to your average Middle Eastern nation is a bad idea.
We need better tools to wade through the cesspool any gathering online can become and reach the people we actually want to meet. This way our online platform of choice isnâ€™t just a place to congregate but also connect. Â But who has been successful in building a large social network online that letâ€™s people interact in a host of meaningful ways all while retaining maximum control over the individuals they are exposed to?
In a short amount of time Facebook has gone from being something that would draw a quizzical look to a vital piece of social identification. Trading Facebook information with someone is as standard as exchanging a phone number, business card or venereal disease. Facebook has become a platform for all manner of services (games included) while constantly refining the tools its members use to access those services. More importantly its tools connect people. Those Facebook updates may cause a deluge of â€śOMG! I hate the new FB!â€ť postings, but they also iterate on the variety of ways users can sort, express, and connect to other members. All this progress has been achieved in a shorter amount of time than XBL or PSN have been in existence.
Whether or not XBL or PSN should act as competitors to Facebook is an article for another day, but both Microsoft and Sony would do well to crib from the current social network king. While both companies have added services that go well with social interaction (Netflix, Twitter, and of course Facebook) they havenâ€™t shown the same effort in improving the tools needed to find individuals on their own platform to enjoy those pass times with. You can find someone on Facebook with common interests much easier than you can on XBL or PSN. Thatâ€™s a miscue considering both Microsoft and Sony can leverage the fact that everyone using their platforms is a gamer. Each company touts how expansive their user base has become, but a vast land with few connecting roads leaves people isolated.
Of all the companies currently involved in gaming, Microsoft is the best positioned to refine their offerings. Ten years ago they showed foresight in creating an online gaming platform. They had the resources, marketing ties, and the savvy creative programmers needed to do so. With improvements Microsoft can create a platform thatâ€™s as vital, recognizable, and beneficial to gamers as Facebook has become to the masses. The company has a little experience with creating universal brands. After all I wrote this article using Word on my Mac.
Better tools will broaden the scope of what we do on something like XBL or PSN. It wonâ€™t just be a place you go to play videogames and enjoy digital media. Itâ€™ll be a place where you actively meet new people who enjoy those same forms of entertainment. Itâ€™ll allow you to draw from a pool of people who enjoy your game style and interests and enhance the time you spend doing them. Itâ€™ll help create real gaming communities instead of the string of leper colonies we currently inhabit.
What are those tools? Well, youâ€™re just going to have to read the next article now arenâ€™t you, Mr./Mrs. Impatient.