Single-Player/Multiplayer

Authored by: Daniel Joseph , Lee Knuttila

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510

10.4324/9780203114261.ch27

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Abstract

A gulf habitually seems to separate single-player games from multiplayer games. From the start screen of a huge swath of games, the two paths diverge. In the first, a singleplayer campaign laden with narrative components unfolds. In the second, gameplay hinges on the actions of other players, whether oppositional combat in a fighting game, or co-operatively as in some sports titles. This perceived split manifests in a variety of historical and contextual forms: it emerges from the single-player games of the frenetic, quarter-driven arcades against the social play style dominant in early generations of home consoles; or, likewise, from the solitary, single-player journeys of role-playing games (RPGs) played in suburban dens to sprawling virtual communities of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). It often pops up in the interstices between the two, as in the local area network (LAN) party, alternating or asynchronous play, or local cooperative play. Without a doubt, understandings of single-player/multiplayer entangle both the context of play and type of game.

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