Some of my best gaming memories came from playing titles like GoldenEye 007, 007: Nightfire, and other splitscreen multiplayer experiences with my friends. If I had grown up a generation later, those memories might have been replaced with playing Call of Duty online, alone, in a dark room.
This situation illustrates a tragic development from the current generation of releases: the decline of split-screen gaming.
As multiplayer technology matures, many players find it easier to play with friends online instead of in person. This practice adds to the anti-social stigma that tends to be associated with gamers and also stifles the social aspect of gaming. Interaction in person is much more genuine and productive than online, whether it happens through text chat or a headset.
Developers make up part of this problem. While cooperative gaming is admittedly on the rise, most co-op modes are strictly online or only available as splitscreen for two players. The number of classic four-player splitscreen games has declined dramatically as a result.
Recently, my friends and I played GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, one of the few splitscreen releases available today that doesn’t have Halo or Call of Duty in its name. We decided to turn on several modifiers to make the game more interesting. One modifier made us die if we stood still for more than three seconds, and one made us explode when we collided into each other. These modifiers, along with the social benefits of playing together, turned what was essentially a Call of Duty clone with a GoldenEye skin into a great gaming experience, one that couldn’t have happened if we were playing online.
Hopefully, developers will recognize the importance of splitscreen gaming and include the mode in their offerings. These studios could even tailor some multiplayer modes to work in splitscreen for those of us who still view gaming as a social pursuit, not just as entertainment to be consumed in solitude.
Originally posted on leviathyn.com.