For years now, local multiplayer has been dying a slow death. Sometimes it's replaced by online multiplayer; sometimes it's not replaced at all, and games that could have lent themselves to fantastic human-on-human matches enter the world with nothing but single-player modes.
This is a bad trend. Games need multiplayer, and here are five reasons why.
1. Local multiplayer is the stuff memories are made of.
If you've been gaming for many years, think back to the best experiences you've ever had with your hobby. You're thinking about local multiplayer, aren't you? I certainly am—slicing my brother in two via Mortal Kombat 3, shotgunning my friends' limbs off in Soldier of Fortune, finding the best sniping position and picking off my college roommates one by one in Halo.
I've played lots of single-player games in my life. I've loved lots of those games, too. But there's something about local multiplayer that makes it stick in your head more. I think it's the sense of connection you get when the bullets you fire pierce the head of someone who's in the same room.
2. Online multiplayer brings people together.
When you're playing against someone via the Internet, some of the aforementioned sense of connection is lost. But if you live far away from your gaming friends, or if you'd like to interact with gamers you've never met, there's no better way to play than online.
Online multiplayer gets a bad rap—plenty of slurs and other insults are hurled over Xbox LIVE, and the service is almost synonymous with a rude gesture that players like to make while standing over the dead bodies of their enemies. But what we often forget that real social interactions take place online too—from friends keeping in touch to strangers passing digitally in the night.
3. Multiplayer is a core part of the video-game tradition.
In a way, it's funny that gamers are sometimes seen as antisocial, because video games have encouraged social interaction since the very beginning. After all, Pong, one of the first games to see spectacular success, rose to fame because it offered friends something to bond over. This tradition continued on through the years—from friends teaming up in Double Dragon on the NES, through the days that Street Fighter II tournaments ruled the arcades, and up to online matches in today's blockbuster first-person shooters.
It would be a shame if this aspect of video gaming's storied tradition were lost.