Single and Not Ready to Mingle

Single+and+Not+Ready+to+Mingle

Valerie Sutherland, Contributor

Have you ever had an experience where you are playing an online multiplayer game and you make a small mistake and get endlessly berated for it? Maybe not, but many others have. Although it is true that not everybody plays video games, or multiplayer games at the least, there should still be an awareness of the prejudice and mistreatment that happens in any multiplayer arena. There are so many people who chose to insult others and act inappropriately because when hiding behind a screen, it is easy to fall into this mindset since there are very few consequences. This toxicity is part of why I believe that single-player games are better than multiplayer games. In my opinion, most single-player games have more allure and provide a more comfortable, educational, and exciting environment which is what many look for in a game. Some feel that solo games allow for an overall better experience, but others feel the opposite and find multiplayer games more alluring. Although this subject may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of today’s concern over the treatment of each other on the huge platform of the internet, and more specifically, games. This claim matters because the world of video games has grown to be so massive that it has, in some way, affected or shaped the lives of nearly everyone in our culture. Anybody who wants to have a fun time playing a game should have a fair chance to play what they want without having to worry about how they will be treated; however, there will always be those whose ideas of “fun” includes harassment and mean-spirited actions, but this behavior can never be completely avoided in any circumstance. Whether it be through a multiplayer shooter game, or through creating a YouTube video of a singleplayer game, videogames are a way for people to enjoy themselves without having to think about their outside life of work, school, or just life in general, but there will always be people who ruin them for others through their own bad attitudes. Multiplayer games are not as good as single-player games because they create a toxic and dangerous environment, while single-player games have a more personal and educational appeal.

Multiplayer games do more harm than good when it comes to the prejudice and toxicity that can easily rise from them. There is a reason why I stopped playing multiplayer arena games, and that is the all-too-often case of bullying and harassment. Anytime I used a voice chat in order to communicate with my teammates, I would instantly get recognized as a girl. This recognition would lead to me being hit on and often on the receiving end of many sexist comments and inappropriate requests. I would often hear, “Do you have a boyfriend?” or, “You’re probably a slut” and, of course, the more classic phrases and requests that I can’t say in a school setting. When I would confront these people, I would get called more rude and inappropriate names and slurs. These churlish morons made me hate arena games. They still do. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only person who deals with these kinds of people. There are so many cases of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and every other type of “ism” or “phobia” that you could think of. This type of game is the perfect place for these destructive attitudes to brew and fester. When you are in a game where you don’t know anybody, it is easy to get frustrated, and without real-life consequences, that frustration can quickly become anger and eventually hate towards other players. People end up either becoming targets for hate or the haters themselves. Here, many would object that not all multiplayer games are like this, and that very few people experience this kind of behavior from others. Although this claim is valid, it suffers from a flaw in its ignorance of the fact that just because this prejudice only happens in small amounts, does not mean that it is alright or justified. Admittedly, multiplayer games have several great aspects. They allow for social interaction and can improve social and team skills needed for everyday life, and they can be very fun when playing with people you know; nevertheless, there is always the danger of possible toxicity. While I do enjoy playing games with my friends, I will always prefer that rich and wondrous solo experience.

Although Multiplayer games can have their fun moments, single-player games allow for a more immersive and educational experience where I can enjoy myself without worry. Every player has their own reasons for why they love or dislike single-player games; it is what makes an experience so personal and meaningful. For myself, I find that I can learn so much more when I play anything alone. There are so many great aspects of playing a single-player game that can only be found in a solo setting. No matter if it is a metroidvania, sandbox, shooter, or adventure game, there is always something to learn. Nearly all games have some kind of puzzle helping a player learn methodical problem-solving skills through trial and error, which can also assist in allowing for a player to connect to the character they are playing. So many story-oriented games have well-written characters with deep-seeded problems mentally, physically, and emotionally, and when you share similar experiences or trauma with a character, it is plausible to see yourself in them. I can imagine the possible freedom or relief someone with emotional trauma could feel when playing the PTSD-ridden jedi Cal Kestis slaying stormtroopers on the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk, or the excitement of slaying your demons as Doomguy. Along with relatability, we can often take away thought-provoking lessons on morality, philosophy, and love. Stories teach lessons and morals for serious and important topics that just can’t be learned in a multiplayer arena. I have played many games that have caused me to reflect on myself and my own outlook on how I live my life. Ori and the Blind Forest taught me about the impact of small acts of kindness. Undertale taught me about the weight and consequences of the choices we make. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor taught me about the inevitable corruption of too much power and the hazy and dangerous line between justice and revenge. All of these and more made me think about how I treat others and myself, and I still keep this mindset with me. Of course, many gamers may want to question whether single-player games actually have these effects or not. Not everybody finds that reliability or that sense of wonder. It is hard for many to look past the flaws that are evident when they play. It is true that single-player games have their fair share of weaknesses. There is no sense of comradery, sometimes the games can feel pointless since you are not sharing an experience with someone, and sometimes the toxic fanbases can drive people away; nevertheless, I believe that these flaws are not as harmful to a player’s wellbeing as those in a multiplayer game. There is less of a permanently damaging effect whereas in multiplayer, harassment can lead to some critically serious consequences. I can still have a great time playing by myself and escape into whatever world I feel like visiting even with the cons that come with the experience.

So after discussing both sides of the argument, do I believe that single-player games are better than multiplayer games? The answer is still yes, and I feel more strongly about it now that I have reflected all my thoughts onto paper, so really my answer is absolutely! I strongly believe that players can take more away from a single-player game; however, I recognize that numerous other players may disagree and claim that the benefits of a multiplayer game are more rewarding. Both types of games have their own great strengths and noticeable weaknesses that appeal to different audiences. Videogames are so important to so many people and have changed the lives of an unfathomable amount of people, players or otherwise. There are games for everybody to enjoy, and there will always be those negative individuals anywhere you look, so next time you queue for that upcoming Overwatch match, or open CS:GO, reflect on how you should treat your fellow players, and think before you speak. Or instead, open that solo game that you have been putting off and get lost in the world of fabulous adventure.

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