There is no doubt that the world of video games has become a more social place. We get online to play with friends and strangers cooperatively or competitively.
But, that kind of play is not for everyone, and it certainly is not for me as it becomes more dominant in the industry.
At first, I thought it was due to the fact that most of my friends have moved onto do other things. But I realized that it was set of different reasons. As my taste in video games expanded, I found myself increasingly isolated as many companies appear to be moving towards a social environment. Lo and behold the reasons why I only want to play video games alone:
1. I use video games as a form of escapism
No-brainer right here, the one thing I love about video games is that they transport me to another world. It allows me to escape my stress and anxiety that I may get from work or other social situations.
Sure, with video games you can escape reality, but you can also escape from people.
Nothing is more infuriating than dealing with an angry customer, irresponsible neighbor who won’t keep their dog leashed, or an Internet troll. When I’m gaming, none of those kinds of people can bother me, especially trolls.
My career also is very people-focused so at the end of a long day of hard work, I just want to switch off for an hour or two, and go to another world to get absorbed in a great story where I don’t have to interact with anyone other than the game’s NPCs.
It’s that whole feeling I get when I explore that world or uncover that character’s fate. I don’t have to think about any stress-inducing factors for a change. All I can think about is what’s going to happen next, or what’s behind that door. That’s how engrossing it is for me.
So let me get lost in Thedas, the Continent, Tamriel, a whole galaxy or whatever where nobody can bother me.
2. I don’t have time to “git gud” plus I have other hobbies
Look who’s talking you say? I know, if someone tells me they don’t have time for something, I tell them they should make time. This is an exception.
Back when I was in high school, I didn’t have as many responsibilities, so I was able to try to get good at Halo; even though I never succeeded at getting my KD ratio to a spot I wanted it to be at.
Now as an adult, that has changed. Playing multiplayer games and not sucking at them requires a lot of your time and effort. You have to practice for hours to learn the tactics or read guides how to do better. You most certainly will have to open your wallet too because lots of these games rely on micro-transactions that’ll boost your performance. But in my eyes, it still comes down to natural and gained skills, that require commitment like an actual job does.
I’m entering a pretty high-demanding career now so chances are, I might only get a small amount of time to play. It’s easier to squeeze in gaming time if you’re playing solo, whereas in multiplayer you often have to grind and matches can sometimes last more than thirty minutes depending on the game.
Also, if I really wanted to get good at a multiplayer game, I would feel like I would have to sacrifice other hobbies to do that. Scratch that. I’ve done it before, but overtime, it became like a chore to play Halo 5 to unlock more REQ packs and level up. Plus I still would get creamed regardless of how much effort I put in.
Therefore, my life demands, both leisure and professional, there clearly isn’t any room for multiplayer games anymore.
3. I like to play multiple games, not just one
Playing multiplayer games means you might play only that game so you can keep up with your friends, level up, get access to new content like maps, etc. That was like that for me at Halo once. I would play until I had got as far as I could go or there was nothing new being released such as new maps, and then I would stop. But my taste in games was not as broad back then as it is now. In fact, most of my friends either don’t play or have moved onto something else. In fact, I moved on too.
Now, I play several games at once on my PC Teletraan-1. I frequently alternate between them and still manage to keep up with the lore in each game.
I’m not prepared to play only one game for several months to a year, because eventually it just demands more of my time to a point where I begin to dread playing because I want to move onto something else like another game or another hobby. I’ll tell you something, if I EVER decided to check out the Call of Duty franchise, I would just play for the campaigns. Finish one and then go onto the next while determining which one had a better story than the other, speaking of which….
4. The game’s story is more important to me
Once upon a time in a faraway land/galaxy/down the street of city X. It all begins there.
Ever since I started playing video games, the story the game presents is what would suck me in. Whatever character you played as, be it a preset character like Geralt of Rivia, or your own custom character, you eventually become attached to them and are just dying to know what happens to them next in their journey.
You might also be attached to the NPCs and what happens to them as the story progresses. Hollow Knight is a good example, when I met Quirrel I wanted to know his reason for exploring the kingdom and eventually he helped me locate Monomon in her Archives. Then there was Hornet, so hellbent on protecting the kingdom and she tried to stop me at first until I proved myself worthy by defeating her twice and soon she revealed her heritage: daughter to Herrah and the Pale King.
How could I also forget about all the unveiling moments in the story of The Cat Lady when I learned of Susan Ashworth’s past that led to her depression and suicide attempt. The moments in a game’s story is what keeps me playing, what keeps me glued to the screen. It’s like reading a really good book and you can’t put it down! That’s something a multiplayer game can never beat in my opinion.
5. The community can be toxic
Some online gaming communities are very welcoming while others, not so much. Regardless, there will always be assholes out there.
Being a woman, gaming used to only be a guy’s thing and now women and girls make up half of the gaming population, yet there are plenty of stories out there where they get sexually harassed in online matches/forums and the industry, quizzed on their knowledge, or assumed they’re doing it only for their boyfriend/husband. I blame the industry for this, not giving women enough recognition or revenue in esports, streaming, or development of games. That was something I was afraid was going to happen to me to and this has to change. We can’t just continue to mute and block to put a bandage over a wound. You harass some innocent individual online, you should be held accountable for your actions.
But the harassment I’ve dealt with is different. In Halo, there were was once a small cult of players who started to make fun of me. Not because I’m female, but because I had (and still do) a crush on the Ur-Didact from the fourth game and the books. Some of them were shitposters, and some of them were lore or multiplayer elitists. Why did they do it? Because they didn’t UNDERSTAND me and thought that scoffing and judging was easier than asking me questions like why I like the Didact so they could understand me better. That is a very unfortunate choice many people in society make when they see someone different than them and don’t know what that person is like.
The same could be said for women in gaming now. Men don’t understand why women are getting into this stuff and why they can’t have something anymore only for them so they do the exact same thing to us. Or it could not be for that and they are just being sexist because they can get away with it due to the power of anonymity. But, thankfully, most male gamers I’ve met are accepting of me, and any idiots are smaller in numbers but it’s just the squeaky wheel gets the grease you know, and I’m done dealing with that sort of trash behavior.
So, if you’re wondering why I’ve never got into games that are big right now like Overwatch, Fortnite, or some other MMO you can think of, that’s why. Even if none of the reasons above didn’t apply, I still wouldn’t play them because I’m not interested.
I’m still guilty of playing Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer from time to time to boost my Galactic Readiness before I attempt to kick the Reapers off of Earth. But my mic is always turned off and I mute everyone else because I just want to play. It’s the only multiplayer I enjoy today even though I’m more of an assistive player than the one who gets the most kills/points.
I also still play Halo, but only for the story now.
If a good friend of mine invites me to a game that we’re both playing at the time, I will be more than happy to join them, but they will be the only person I converse with until I come to trust anyone else they want to invite into the chat.
Now, I’m sure there’s lots of advantages to multiplayer games too so if you read this, feel free to tell me what you like about them. I am in no means trying to be a hater.
Or, if you’re like me, why do you prefer to play solo?