Online gaming has existed for years now, for many people reading this article you know all too well the allure of “just one more game” and the highs and lows experienced in said game. For me this is a new experience, one that only took shape in my life when Rocket League released on the PlayStation 4 last year. Before Rocket League I strictly played single player games, even went so far as picking up the latest Call of Duty title and only playing through the terrible, tacked-on campaign. Everything changed the first time I scored a goal against another real human gamer. The idea that somewhere in the world there was someone like me sitting in front of a screen and cursing me fascinated me and it’s in that moment that the addiction took hold. Like any addiction it started by providing nothing but fun, unbridled enjoyment. It was perhaps a few weeks and countless hours before I experienced my first ‘troll’ and despite being quite a calm, level headed person in real life I lost it. This person, playing the same game as me, somewhere else on this earth was dominating me and they were pushing all my buttons. I wish I could say that I took a deep breath and just brushed it off, remaining the bigger person and getting back to playing the game I love … but that wasn’t the case. I went right down to their level and replied to the chat. Hurling retorts to his insults and letting my car idle in the middle of the arena while I desperately typed on the keyboard witty comebacks. Some minutes passed, more comments back and forth and finally I caved. For the first time in my life I ‘rage quit’ a video game. This was a while ago now and I’ve become a more seasoned online player, with a better understanding of what trolls do and how to properly get even. After so much time playing Rocket League and more recently Call of Duty: Black Ops III online I’ve learnt to love the not-so lovable people that are the backbone of the online community. Now I laugh when I get messages from random players, or they type something during a game.
The only downside to playing these games is that I find myself prioritising them over literally every other game coming out. I still find myself sinking countless hours into both despite having 2015’s game of the year – The Witcher 3 – sitting on my shelf. Unplayed and collecting dust, like a sad forgotten, childhood toy. This to me is probably the funniest thing about playing multiplayer games online, I genuinely enjoy almost every minute I spend but at the end of every session I feel that tiny feeling of regret that I didn’t invest my time into something new, or that I didn’t finish that game I’m so close to finishing. What is it about playing online games which is so addictive? For me I think it’s that games are generally quick, if I only have half an hour or so to play, COD or Rocket League fits the bill perfectly. It’s also the social aspect, finally I get why people own headsets with microphones! I love getting an invitation from one of my buddies to join a match and party chat. Now I find myself wondering how I could possibly go back to playing single player games again! It’s all me, just playing by my lonesome and not having anyone there to share the experience with me. Like most addicts, not capable of stopping at just the one hit I’ve found myself in a place where I feel like I need to get rid of the source of my addiction completely. If I have any hope of getting through my massive collection of unplayed games, not to mention the numerous upcoming titles perhaps I need the Call of duty and Rocket League drugs out of the house? On the other hand, if I’m enjoying these games so much do I really need to get rid of them? Like surely I can handle this situation, only play the games when between game releases or when I have only a finite amount of time … only time will tell I guess.