One of my earliest and fondest moments of playing a co-op game was when I was a really wee lad and the Famicom was brand new. And for some reason my dad brought home a game called Contra. The game was tough as nails for 5 year old me, and since I was oblivious to the now-famed Konami code, you can imagine how hard it was trying to dodge those diamond shaped bullets. But regardless of the difficulty, I still cherish that moment playing with my dad, struggling together and trying to take down that gigantic chrome wall with blinking red dots.
So fast forward to now. I’m always thrilled and excited to see new game releases with co-op game modes. I don’t know? It might be that warm fuzzy feeling I get knowing that I’m playing with friends and achieving the goals of the game together. Call me a hopeless co-opmantic (GET IT?!), but the satisfaction I get out of a co-op game is always undeniably there.
Don’t Hate, Cooperate!
I realize that in real life, it kinda is a neverending PvP (player vs player). I know it sounds cheesy and no, I’m not going into gamification of my life. Having and knowing how to deal with people in the real world kinda feels like small battles that you constantly have to keep winning. For instance, being a middle manager in the workplace means having to attend meetings at the end of the month and always needing to be prepared with your reports. Sometimes on the fly, other managers will challenge your report and you have to further justify your actions. You also need to make the right calls and decisions constantly. Although I work with other people that feed me information and give their opinion, it’s ultimately still up to me to make the final decision and hope that it was the right one.
Oh, and I bet you hear some good horror stories when driving here in Manila, which I do everyday. You can bet I meet an asshole or two almost every week on the road. Changing lanes on any road here is like a constant battle of agility and knowing when to be brave. Getting through traffic feels like going through a horde and you need to know how to snake your way through, or else you won’t get anywhere.
And after going through all that at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is to fight more pseudo battles online, with strangers who usually have better skills than me. Not only that: having to tolerate other teammates who aren’t completing the objective or capturing the flag or whatever just makes it equally frustrating. My gameplay experience for a PvP game isn’t guaranteed to be a positive one because of too many variables -- mainly, the people I play with. Admittedly, I’ve had “Fuck Yeah!” moments, but they were just all too rare for me to experience. And having rare positive experiences for my gaming is something I can’t just afford to have nowadays. The worst feeling of all is going to bed right after a rage-quit.
Having dependable teammates and AI that scales to the proper level of difficulty, I would say, would guarantee the gameplay experience to be a positive one. No need to deal with anything else -- it’s just you, a couple of buddies and the game. Now, winning and losing in the game is a totally different matter, but at least the actions that you and your buddies take is a bit more “predictable” than your random teammates and enemies in a PvP game. I know PvP offers a different kind of satisfaction -- usually it fuels the competitive side of the human psyche -- and I think my tank for competition is pretty much filled up to the brim already.
Co-optimism (I’m just loving my puns today)
I think what I’m trying to really point out is that in real life, I deal with all sorts of people that act and behave randomly. Playing video games is my form of escapism and entertainment. I really can't afford to devote my precious gaming time to hone my skills to climb up that ladder anymore, and neither does it appeal to me (it never really did in the first place). I play to experience and not to compete, and co-op modes usually hit it home for me.