Some of my very best memories of gaming (and current fun as well) involve other players. There was something really special about the multiplayer games of the 80’s and 90’s. To start with, all the players had to be in the same room, usually using the same TV screen to play.
A Bluetooth headset and online gaming just does not capture the fun of playing a game in the same room as your friends – it is an awesome way to bond and have a great time. The energy and the shared experience often carry over into anything else you do while hanging out. In fact, some of the foundations of ClassicallyTrained.net were developed during this time, when several of my friends and I were able to apply ideas from video games to help us successfully complete tasks at a job where three of us worked together.
Social gaming is a great way to have fun, get to know others, build real life skills, and stay out of trouble (for the most part). In fact, I was able to make some great friends, thanks to our common interest in video games (read about the friend I met while participating in the Blockbuster Video World Game Championship).
It was also a great excuse to eat junk food and consume unhealthy quantities of caffeine. In retrospect, having stock in Pizza Hut and Mountain Dew would have really paid off.
Retro Gaming Multiplayer
Most gaming consoles of the 80’s and early 90’s only had 2 controller ports to start with, and many games were only designed to accommodate 2 players. There were several accessories that allowed you to add controllers for games that supported 4-5 players (M.U.L.E., anyone?), but for the most part, multiplayer meant two at a time.
So here is the important question: Who is your player 2?
Now I know we need to qualify what I mean by Player 2. There are three categories of Player 2 that come to my mind, grouped by the type and style of game that you are playing.
- Player 2 as Reciprocal/Companion – Fellow Traveler on a Shared Quest
- Player 2 as Rival/Challenger – Opponent to Overcome
- Player 2 as Role Model – Example to Follow; Coach
Let’s take a closer look at the first type of Player 2, filling the role of a fellow traveler on a shared quest.
Player 2 as Reciprocal/Companion – Fellow Traveler on a Shared Quest
The focus of this individual is Teamwork
In this case, Player 2 is the other guy or gal who is in the trenches with you. Together you are taking on the world, defeating the villain, and saving humanity – or something to that effect. Great examples of games you would play together include: Bubble Bobble, TMNT 2: The Arcade Game, Contra, Metal Slug, Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage, Gauntlet, Smash TV and the list goes on.
The two of you are fellow travelers down the same path, united by a common goal or objective. When one of you succeeds, you both succeed. When one of you fails, it brings you both down.
When playing cooperative games together with a friend, often it would be a game that was new to both of us (usually a rental) and we would be facing these challenges together for the very first time. The sense of wonder when fighting a huge boss, picking up a new power up, or discovering some new trick that would help you both is a great feeling. It also encouraged experimentation with the rules of the game, trying to find new and creative ways to give the two of us an advantage against the relentless onslaught of whatever alien horde or ninja clan stood in our way.
Games that were painfully difficult, suddenly became much easier when you have the right Player 2.
When playing a game alone, it was easy to get frustrated and give up, but with a companion I found that I kept my cool and could even joke about a game that would make me want to cry (or hurl my controller) while playing through single player mode.
I noticed that some else would also happen.
I would play better.
Teamwork has a real multiplying effect, in video games and in life.
Ask to See the Cyborg Ninja’s Resume before Hiring
I am sure you have found out the hard way that not everyone makes a good Reciprocal Player 2. I know I have. When considering the best co-op players that I have shared epic journeys with, several traits came to mind:
An excellent Reciprocal Player 2 does not need to be better than you, but it sure helps if they are pretty good at the game. Especially in games where you share lives or player 2 can steal player 1’s continues. You want someone who can keep from bashing your head in if your co-op game allows for friendly fire (I’m looking at you, Battletoads).
Also consider matching up your strengths and playing styles to compliment each others’ weaknesses. For Example: if one of you likes the slow, big, strong type (Mike Haggar, for example) a good compliment would be the quick, nimble, type (Guy). Together, the two of you present a much stronger team than either of you on your own.
Many 2 player simultaneous co-op games have limited lives and limited items to replenish health, so the excellent Reciprocal Player 2 will not scarf down that full pizza when he has complete health and you are about to die. The same holds true for power ups and items or weapons you find along the way. A greedy Reciprocal Player 2 can squander items and hurt the team’s chance at being successful in the long run. They may see personal benefit in the moment, but this behavior catches up to you.
When getting blindsided by evil ninjas, I want a Reciprocal Player 2 that will get them off my back, and knows how to leverage teamwork to double team a boss. This Reciprocal Player 2 is always aware that the nature of the game is cooperation. You are one team, with one goal. It’s not much of a co-op game if you spend your whole time watching the other guy play because he did not care if you survived.
And if you are this guy/gal, don’t be surprised if your ignored (and now dead) teammate goes for a walk.
Or “accidentally” hits the reset button/unplugs your controller. (I’d never do this. Ok, maybe once.)
Who is Your Reciprocal Player 2?
Everything that makes a good Reciprocal Player 2, also makes for a really good friend and co-worker.
Take a look around you – who are your closest friends?
Do they demonstrate loyalty, generosity, and skill?
What about you? How are you taking those around you into consideration, making sure that you are treating them in a manner that is fair, supportive, and reliable?
When you demonstrate these traits at work, with your spouse, and with your friends and family, the results are amazing.
Are You Ready for the Next Level?
Write out a list of the 5 people who you spend most of your time with. We end up becoming an average of these individuals. Answer these questions: Do they have the traits you desire? Are they moving in the same direction that you want to go?
Are you a good Reciprocal Player 2? How do you demonstrate the desired traits for others? Choose 1 person on your list from STAGE 1, and spend time with them over the next week, look for an opportunity to show 1 act of loyalty, 1 act of generosity, and 1 way that you can use a skill you have to help them with something important.
Recruit your ideal Reciprocal Player 2. Find someone who is moving in the direction you want to go, and is a few steps ahead of you. This is not mentor level, just another fellow traveler who knows a few moves. Build a connection with them, look for ways to apply STAGE 2 in this new connection, and learn at least 1 new tip from them about being successful.
I want to hear from you – leave me a note in the comment section below.
Ideas for comments:
What is Your Favorite Co-Op 2 Player Game?
Who is Your Reciprocal Player 2?
Which STAGE are you going to try?