Blind Fire: On Consoles, The Party System Creates Isolation

I know, it sounds ironic. But, I remember a time when you would enter the public room of any game, and you’d hear chatter. Granted, there’d be a lot of people talking shit, but in my opinion, the psychological side of trash talk while waiting in a dead room, or before and after a game, was part of what made games feel more competitive. If you combine that with the fact that more often than not, it felt like the majority of your team would have and use a mic, leading to scenarios where even if you weren’t playing with friends, you could still drop call outs to your random teammates, it feels like a piece of the early days of console multiplayer culture is almost entirely dead.

In the last couple of years, due to a lot of friends having kids, getting deployed, getting jobs with opposite schedules, and so on, I’ve been going solo on a lot of competitive and cooperative games more often than I ever have in the last decade. I’ve noticed that I find myself often times mumbling to myself as the team is broken up into multiple parties because people only want to talk to their friends. Ironically, the idea of being able to bring friends together in parties, has created what feels like an anti-social community. Inside of the actual games that we play together, parties have been keeping teams apart.

Now, I understand why the party system exists, and don’t think that I’m condemning it. Just last night I was playing Diablo 3 with my friend on Xbox, while in a party. Sometimes with games like this, without a party you can’t talk to your team between loading screens, or the connection in game can do some wonky stuff with in game voice chat. However, part of me still misses the days of making friends, and enemies, in an open lobby. Two of my best friends in real life are people I met in open lobbies, playing gears of war between 2006-2007. There are players I remember thinking were assholes, who I’d randomly run into again in the same playlist, and sure as shit played a lot harder against them than other players. It’s just an added element that I honestly miss. It’s an intangible to me.

All that said, I feel that I’ll always pine for the days of a child telling me I’m trash, and that he fucked my mother, after losing a round to my team.