Making Gaming Social Again - Indies Doing Good
We are taking a look at recent Indie games that include local co-op or versus modes, especially those that make it the focus of the entire game! Often Indie developers simply do not have the resources to implement online multiplayer, and there are indeed challenges with cheating and latency when developing any multiplayer feature. There are even special game design challenges around designing a game that is meant to be played by several people in one room, but these local modes are helping people to once again experience games as social events.
Have you played Google’s Super Sync Sports?
Titles such as Nidhogg by Messhof, TowerFall Ascension by Matt Makes Games and Starwhal by Breakfall feature tense, local multi-player modes. There are some non-violent alternatives as well, in the form of Super Toy Cars and The Yawhg. The former is an Indie title that recreates the classic thrills of the Micro Machines games while the latter features a randomly generated story meant to be experienced with a group of friends.
One of our favorites on mobile is Spaceteam by Sleeping Beats Games. It features SPACE and you get to shout at each other in a cooperative game of button pressing in order to avoid an untimely demise.
Anyone that grew up during the arcade and early console era will remember that gaming used to be very social. Mainstream media tried to portray gamers as anti-social people who spent most of their time locked inside darkened rooms, but generally gaming used to be an activity that involved interacting with other people.
Back in the early days it wasn’t easy to program sophisticated artificial intelligence for enemies in games, so the biggest challenge came from your fellow players. Arcades were filled with players, challenging one another to one-on-one matches or co-operating to clear levels. It was not uncommon for players who were at the top of their game to draw a crowd of spectators studying their techniques. Arcades had to buy multiple machines for the more popular titles to prevent long queues from forming.
This social aspect of gaming extended to the home consoles as well. Swapping and trading games among friends or taking your controller to a friend’s house for some multiplayer gaming session was common. Even PC players had no qualms lugging their entire computer over to a friend if it meant some quality multiplayer lanning. These days consoles are internet connected and online play is standard, with gamers competing against strangers around the world. But this has come at the cost of local multiplayer.
With the Steam Big Picture mode for PC, AirPlay on Apple devices, and the Chromecast for Android; couch co-op is no longer just relegated to consoles and we may see a resurgence in local play. It has us thinking about ways that local co-op could be used with social impact much like ITVS Community Cinema does today. The amount of Indie titles that favor local co-op are not that numerous yet, but the number is growing and we can’t wait to see what new games will emerge.