The Death of a Tradition

19th May 2005

It is a sad day my friends and fellow soakers for I am sat here, in front of my computer… alone. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem but tonight was meant to be a mad packed evening of multiplayer frenzy. Tonight I was meant to dance and taunt my friends as I displayed my superior gaming skills. Tonight I was meant to park my custom built hover machine in the narrowest part of the track waiting for the “losers” to crash into me; a moment of drunken hilarity amongst many. Tonight...tonight…tonight I was not meant to be alone

I was not always alone; we used to meet twice a week, working through a selection of multiplayer gems and one “bargain basket” game (it had to be under £10). They were joyous times you should be pleased to know; alcohol flowed and our abilities to taunt and mock became more important than our gaming abilities. We had our strengths and weaknesses. I was a gaming God compared to them, even when I couldn’t see straight I was in the “zone” but my taunts usually lasted a full five minutes, by which time I had been killed/beaten/ pummelled embarrassingly. Ricky is Spanish, an advantage in any situation but he was a crap gamer; Nick, he never gave up, even if we had already finished a couple of minutes earlier. Six months on and still we had not tired of the taunting and mocking, each refining our victory dances and put downs. Others would join our group from time to time, “celebrity guests” as we called them. Not used to the pace, they walked away tired, bruised, but wiser.

Sounds fun doesn’t it? Of course it was fun, it was multiplayer as it was meant to be; crowded round a small television, controllers chucked in rage.

“Who had the bloody lightning?”

“Ahhhhhhh...I lost to Nick! How the fuck did that happen?”

“You hear that? That’s right it’s the sound of me WHIPPING YOUR BUTTS!!!”

You all know what I mean don’t you? Or have the memories started to fade already?

The downfall of this great era began last October when we started our second year in this house; one housemate had left and two more arrived, John and Broadband. The arrival of Broadband in the household was exciting. I wouldn’t have to rely on University computers to check my e-mail; I could carry out research from home… the possibilities for work were endless. For my housemates, the possibility of gaming …their excitement was unfathomable. Over the next few months, my extra controllers gathered something new - a nice layer of dust.

“Timesplitters is crap compared to Counter-Strike” John kept complaining

“Yes, but you get to play as a monkey, a MONKEY!” I cried back, but it fell on dead ears.

Even Andy, who had at one time been a prolific mapmaker on Timesplitters and worked hard on his 1080 skills to match me, no longer has time for some multiplayer mayhem; I was all alone.

Finally, I gave in and ventured online to play Counter-Strike, not wanting to feel left alone anymore. I sat in the living room, Andy in his room and John in his; their doors closed. Problems started from the beginning when I couldn’t find the server they were using;

“Don’t worry, this is a really good server so it will be worth it” I was reassured by John.

Thirty minutes later I was finally online and raring to go - my first ever online game of Counter-Strike and an exciting moment!

Another thirty minutes later, I was sat down watching the news, vowing never to enter the world of online gaming again. I had successfully killed my housemate but didn’t have the opportunity to dance in front of him. I had been killed by a team-mate twice (which was no accident on both occasions) and been kicked off the server accidentally three times. In an hour of “online” gaming, I spent a grand total of fifteen minutes actually playing; that isn’t gaming but an endurance test my friends. Where was the interaction? Where was the joy of seeing you friend's face the moment he realises you are about to kill him and there is nothing he can do? Where was the fun?

I lied earlier when I said I was on my own; Andy and John are in the house, playing online. I still haven’t found the heart to tell my trusty consoles they are not loved as much anymore. I just hope this isn’t becoming a widespread problem.