When it comes to video games, I’m very much a solo player. Sure, when I was younger I loved sitting down in front of the couch with my friends for marathon sessions of Street Fighter II and Mario Kart. But over the years as my gaming moved from consoles to PC I’ve become more of a single player. There are a number of multiplayer PC games I’ve played over the years (from World of Warcraft to Day Z to Battlefield), with my levels of player interaction varying from isolationist to eager team player.
Ironically, most of my time playing World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online RPG, was spent playing alone. I liked the setting and character progression but wasn’t a big fan of the player interaction. I liked being in a shared world, seeing other players running around, but I much preferred an isolationist approach. I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid other players but I wouldn’t interact with them much either. The furthest I’d go is helping someone out who’s close to death or thanking someone for helping me.
Over the years I dipped my toes into playing with a guild. I liked working as a team to take down raid bosses but the required commitment level was too much to maintain over an extended period. Ultimately, I’m a selfish player. I like to play how I want to play, not how someone else wants me to play. As well, I’m no fan of sustained social interaction in general, so I found the guild chat occasionally tiresome.
My favourite activity when playing Warcraft is attempting to solo old instances and raids. Granted, due to stats scaling at high levels, many of the old dungeons and raids are trivial to a level 90 character. There’s still challenge and discovery in running through old content, however, and I like pushing my character to see how far he can go. The last milestone I reached, and likely the last I’ll play Warcraft before the next expansion, was finishing the Twilight Zone achievement. This involves killing Sartharion, the dragon raid boss of the Obsidian Sanctum, with all three twilight drakes still alive. This would’ve been exponentially easier with even one more player but I wanted to do it on my own.
When compared to Warcraft, DayZ is a different animal altogether. The core conflict in DayZ is you versus the world, which includes zombies and other players. Avoiding other players is a legitimate survival tactic, as you can never fully trust the strangers you run across. I like the solitude of running as a lone wolf, and the thrill when I spot another player (or group of players). If another player approaches me I’ll generally ignore them; if they persist in following me or attack me I’ll attempt to kill them. I tried playing Day Z in a small group but I ran into the same issues I had in my Warcraft guild. I prefer to control my play session rather than it be dictated by someone else.
All of my multi-player reservations only apply to playing with strangers. The situation is entirely different when playing with friends. I prefer playing squad-based shooters like Battlefield with friends rather than alone. When playing alone, I tend to get frustrated and agitated by my poor performance. When playing with friends, I can just chill our and relax and not worry about how badly I’m playing. Playing Battlefield with a group of friends takes me back to my old console days, bullshitting and trash-talking while beating each other up in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat on the Super Nintendo.
With generally less time to play, due to work and life commitments, I’ve had to become more selfish in my gaming. I play video games to relax and escape the mundanities and anxieties of every day life. I like being in control of my levels of social interaction and tailoring my involvement accordingly. I’m all about choice when playing video games and I like being able to choose to go solo.