Single player vs Multiplayer designs – how they’re similar, but mostly : how they’re different

If you haven’t already read my short thesis paper on the Application of Game Theory within Online Gaming Culture and Institutional Education, I highly recommend you check it out (it’s a short read, I promise!).

In it, I discuss how video games have become a social norm in today, that modern video games often contain complex themes and obstacles that parallel to those in reality, and that online virtual spaces within video games possess many elements of choice making and problem solving that mirror Game Theory. 

Right off the bat – I’d like to make the distinction that single player video games are vastly different than multiplayer video games. Even in the case of most video games, where there is a single player “campaign” , alongside either a multiplayer arena/pvp (player vs. player) or co-op (play with a friend) game mode, the two need to be seen as two separate entities within the same family – almost like brother and sister. 

The main reason for this is that the design that goes into each has a totally different objective.
Let me start with the single player objective:

In the single player campaign of a game, a player usually begins by being given an introduction as to the identity of the player as in the character they are playing as (usually the protagonist), the “scene goal” of the character (as in what they need to achieve at the moment to progress further through the game), and the “life goal” of the character (what needs to be accomplished to win the game).

So for example, using the most simplest and perhaps most well known of video game characters: In the classic Mario games, Princess Peach finds herself kidnapped by the main antagonist Bowser, and it’s up to the player, identified as Mario, needs to conquer each castle (scene goal) in the mushroom kingdom until he finds the castle that Princess Peach is held in, and defeat Bowser to rescue the princess (life goal). 



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