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Bring Back Gaming to the Living Room!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The irony of social media is that it makes you anti-social: instead of actually talking to your friends, you hunch over your phone and you post your latest photo which won’t even be viewed since almost everyone is already too busy posting their own selfies and images. The same goes for social gaming which has morphed into millions of players silently killing avatars belonging to people thousands of miles away.

Video games were invented as a social medium. Television games were designed to be enjoyed with friends and family. Early 90s commercials were showing happy families gathered around their TVs engaged in countless hours of poking and teasing.

Even as games migrated online, many strove to maintain that living room experience.  Most games can be played on split screens or joined TVs for friends in the same room- the invective is just as focused but funnier, making it part of the process, not something you mute with a weary sigh.

Naturally, online multiplayer gaming isn’t all about competition and petty winnings. World of Warcraft’s highly addictive long-term framework allows you to kill other players’ characters, but is more conductive to team up to fight beasts that you would have a hard time defeating by yourself. People make close friends in WoW- friends they rarely meet in real life.

League of Legends has pushed online gaming further, becoming a vastly popular spectator sport with prize funds running into the millions, making superstars of its most successful players and teams. But something is missing from this kind of geographically isolated online play.

Sure, you can enjoy them even when your friends are out of town and encourages epic gaming that could never happen offline, but it lack the basic humanity of real-life interaction.

Whether you end up playing Wii Bowling with your friends long into the night or find yourself plunging form pole position to last place in Mario Kart on the wrong end of a blue shell, getting together with people you love to partake in sports that don’t actually exist is a happy, silly counterpoint to the serious-minded head-set and essentially solitary existence of playing online.

 

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