What Happened to Couch Co-op?


Art by Torren Mitchell

This is something that has been written about already, but if the world can have a million different articles on Ferguson that all depict a variation of the same event, then another piece on the death of local cooperative play in video games shouldn’t be a problem.

I love co-op. I play Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies all the time with my roommates. I’ve mentioned before my affection for Star Wars Battlefront and the memories of split screen with my brother. In fact, one of the first things I do when I look at a game to rent or buy is to check the back cover, hoping to see the fabled “1-4 players local” instead “2-963 players online.”

I’m sorry gaming community (I’m not though) but the majority of people who play online are fucking idiots. People play music through their headsets, hack the game mechanics, call each other various expletives, and are all around cunts to each other. And for what? Because Sn1perGhostSh0t took your kill? The overall atmosphere of online gaming is frankly embarrassing. So the lack of local play saddens me; I’d much rather play a game with a friend, in person, next to me, that way if he is being an asshole I can punch him.

All jokes aside, the lack of modern and mainstream titles carrying local play is threatening the fiber of which gaming was formed. People no longer meet up at the arcade, they no longer see a high score to beat. All you get now is a leaderboard that someone hacked to be at the top of. While online multiplayer could be argued as an encouragement for gaming to be a social activity, I argue the opposite. Why else is there a mute option available on in-game chat? Couch co-op is a formation of friendship. I would not be friends with some of my dearest associates if not for co-op. When your buddy passes up a legendary item so you can have it, you know you can count on that guy. When you’re willing to sacrifice your character’s life and awesome weapons so your friend can keep playing, you’ve transcended petty competition and entered into what gaming is about: fun.

When a game has a split screen mode, the graphics get dialed down and maybe the game play changes a bit. I’m here to tell developers to take the fucking hit in graphics, to delay the game a few months, and implement co-op. You will increase the replay value, the customer appeal, and people will forge memories over your game. YouTube is full of gamer highlights of people doing shit online; it’s a dime a dozen. I don’t remember the shit I did on Call of Duty’s multiplayer. I do remember the time my friend and I beat the first Borderlands together, and the second. I recall playing the very first Nazi Zombie map on my friend’s tiny TV, how we declared a part of the map “The Alamo” and fucking died there 87 times. I remember teaching my girlfriend to play a shooting game and her yelling at me not to shoot her, and then promptly lighting me up with an assault rifle. And who would have thought that the Resident Evil series would become a co-op staple? Now that’s some good co-op, up until your partner puts down his controller because: “Naw man, I don’t like spiders.”

Online multiplayer and co-op has the potential for those moments, and it is a great feature. My brother is a couple of states away, and I really appreciate online play because it gives me the ability to connect with him. But when games have online co-op and not couch co-op, it really bothers me. It’s almost as if game companies just want more people to purchase the game (I said as if like that there’s a possibility of it being untrue lol). This is a mistake. Because nothing beats being able to look over at a friend or loved one and say: “We did it! High five!” or “Holy shit!” or “Fuck this game let’s drink instead.” Friendship is more important than pwning some ten year old from Canada.

Also, I really like killing my friends. It’s really satisfying to hear a pal scream “OH COME ON!” as you do Sub Zeros spine rip fatality.

–Alex, 2/10/2015

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