I am both blessed and cursed with a wife who enjoys video games as much as I do. I am blessed, because she is my enabler. I don’t have to justify buying video games, consoles, or other electronics to her, because she understands the compulsion, and revels in it. I am cursed, because we only have one gaming setup, which means that we must learn to share time with our games. As only children, sharing was never that big of an issue growing up, so you can imagine how difficult it is when we’re nearing 30.
With our situation, which I can’t help but believe is quite common in gaming households, we find ourselves seeking games that will allow us to play not only with each other locally, but with each other and our friends simultaneously online. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more difficult to accomplish. We either find ourselves with games that provide wonderful local multiplayer, but only allow a single local person to play online multiplayer, or we find games that provide only a single person with the opportunity to play online multiplayer with no local multiplayer included at all. There are a few games that satisfy our desire for both local and online multiplayer that allows us both to play at the same time, such as the Left 4 Dead series, the Halo series, Monday Night Combat, and others. However, one craves variety in their gaming, and we find ourselves lacking such variety.
The problem is that neither one of us is particularly patient. It is difficult for us to sit idly by while our significant other sits and enjoys playing a game online with friends. It fucking sucks.
Without even the slightest hesitation, I have no trouble naming Blur as the best racing game I have ever played. The local split-screen is incredibly entertaining, and very well done. However, the ability to have multiple locals playing with friends online is non-existent. Both Lindsey and myself absolutely adore Blur, and would love to be able to play together against more than just AI drivers, but it seems that we are to be denied that pleasure.
Borderlands is another phenomenal game that falls into the same trap as Blur. Boasting an incredibly entertaining local multiplayer capability, Borderlands follows in Blur’s footsteps and robs us of the ability to play together simultaneously with our friends online. There is obvious precedent for local/online multiplayer in the shooter genre (Halo, Left 4 Dead, etc), and the game handled the local multiplayer very well, so why was the local multiplayer ability not added to the online play?
You Don’t Know Jack, a PC game I adored 15 years ago, was recently released for the Xbox 360. We picked it up today and started playing immediately. The local multiplayer is… wait for it… very fun and very well done. When we tried to set up an online game with both of us as contestants, however, the fun came to a screeching halt. The same goes for Family Game Night, A World of Keflings, and more. Great local multiplayer, great single-local online multiplayer, but no multiple-local online multiplayer.
I want to play games with my wife, with my friends online. Why is that so damned difficult? If a developer is capable of handling local multiplayer and online multiplayer so well, why can’t they include an option for multiple local people to play online with others? Monday Night Combat did it. The Halo series did it. The Left 4 Dead series did it. There are others out there, I’m sure, that offer a solution to that undoubtedly common need, but I want Blur, I want You Don’t Know Jack, I want Borderlands, I want, I want, I WANT.