Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
With the release of Mario Kart 8 to Nintendo’s Wii U console recently it got me thinking. What are the pros and cons of communicating during an online experience, and what do I really want? Ever since the onslaught of the network gaming experience, there have been a plethora of debates surrounding it. From PC, to the original Xbox, Dreamcast, to the current big three, gaming development companies handle this experience differently. It ranges from a very limited interaction, to an in-depth ordeal.
Firstly, my experience with the new Mario Kart 8 is beyond excellent. The game is top-notch and the online features are fluid. Well thought out and completely balanced, but that’s not all to the world of online gaming. Part of the excitement for gamers has always been the occasional pokes of fun at other players. Nintendo has limited the interaction between players in this title by letting friends speak freely, but only inside the stage selection room. Players who don’t know each other must choose from a list of neutral sayings. It can take away some of the fun at times when you’ve beaten your opponent by a fraction of an inch at the finish line that you can’t scream out: “how does my backside look sucka?” as you throw a green shell backwards. Especially when it’s someone you know. Many times I have resorted to calling my friends via cell phone during the game for an especially epic moment of happiness. It takes away a little something and for a split second I think, “why won’t they just get over it and let me talk to everyone?”, and that’s exactly the time I think about my next point.
Since the original Xbox release smack talking, especially in the “youngins’ category”, varied and colorful stereotypes of 12-15 year old children, have given the world a run for our money with their online shenanigans. First person shooters have been all but ruined by the immature preteen that feels the needs to offer an endless slew of obscenities through an entire tournament. Video games are also about the internal experience, they are subjective, unlike other forms of media that you tend to experience just as a passenger. Gaming is all about making the things that are impossible in your life possible in your mind. Not all of us can be a military hero, but we can feel closer to it when we jump into a tournament of Call of Duty online. Sure, the military is full of curse words and dirty jokes, but they make sense in the context of the scenario, unlike the endless banter of a child.
It really makes one stop and think. As much as I want to be able to talk to my friends during my Mario Kart 8 experience, it is at the same time an almost childhood memory for me racing through the various stages and performing genius execution of item use. As much as a truly adult game is ruined by the various colorful words in Call of Duty, I want even less of that in a game that brings out the true fun and innocence of “back in the day” gaming.
PC gaming is a perfect example of how online communication can be used to maximum perfection. Entire intricate military operations, space adventures, and fantasy installments have been drawn out into week or even year-long plans that have benefited huge groups in the end. The for me is, as intricate as these plans are, most of them are in titles that involve endless amounts of time and effort, which forces the group of insubordinate fools in a different direction. A lot of times PC higher level characters have their own laws that they carry out on lower levels creating a system of checks and balances that can’t be found in many console titles.
In the end, I feel that communicating during online play is a very important aspect to any online title. It allows for more fun and a greater sense of the scope of a game. While I wish that I could communicate without limits with my friends online I’m not sure that being able to communicate with everyone is the answer, but would it be so much to ask to have the choice? Why isn’t it just a console setting like parental controls are? Set it to the system and not the game, or just make it the standard to be able to choose the communication style of each game. I shouldn’t have to yearn for more during my gaming experience like I do with Mario Kart 8. I shouldn’t have to call my friends on a whole other electronic device because you don’t believe that I should be allowed to do so on the console. I can only hope that Nintendo grasps this concept with the upcoming smash brothers title or even in Devil’s Third. But whether it Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation, or PC, the world definitely has a lot to work on when it comes to the issue of giving the players the choice, instead of deciding for them. We want freedom I say!