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Anxious to play online games; the guarantee of fun; the state of modern online games; meaningful experience

Gamingtodaynews1g - Anxious to play online games; the guarantee of fun; the state of modern online games; meaningful experience
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I have tried searching for posts similar to mine but i didn't manage to find anyone with the issue i have. I've seen people saying that they are afraid of getting absolutely destroyed by better players, which is not the case for me.

The issue i have with online games is that no matter which game it is you never have guarantees you are going to have fun. When you don't have a lot of time to play games, deciding which game or other form of activity you are going to engage for a few hour becomes a much more impactful decision. For me playing a game is an act of spending time with fun, and what that means for me exactly is several things: 1) being engaged with a game to an extent when i find my actions meaningful, 2) receiving strong emotions from meaningful events in the game, 3) a *fair* challenge.

When you have played a single-player game for a few hours you essentially understand what experience it offers you and have expectations about how it will keep playing out forward. So if you enjoyed it for the first two hours it's, not always, but likely that you will keep enjoying it until the credits roll. That's why before launching a single-player game that you've liked for a few hours that you've decided to play today, you can be certain that you will have fun, and so there is less risk involved outside the game regarding your decision. And by the way, this comes from the person who plays and finishes most single player games on the hardest difficulties available, unless i don't feel those difficulties being fair.

When you go online however, there is more risk of you not having fun in it. And i must make it as clear as possible, that what i mean is not tied with your in-game performance as a player, but the meaningfulness of your experience. (From years 2013-2018 i had about 700 hours playing CS GO, 400 hours playing Team Fortress 2, from 2019 to today 500 hours in Apex Legends, 150 hours in Rainbow Six Siege, 150 hours in Mordhau, 100 hours in Titanfall 2, 100 hours in Escape From Tarkov, i've also tried many other multiplayer games or multiplayer modes of games but not for a lot of hours of any such title. For now i speak only of competitive games that is. So it's not that i don't play those games or an inexperienced player.) I am an average player by stats in each title, sometimes i overperform or underperform, but for all the time i've played online only now have i started to realize that there are certain aspects to most of them that result in negative fun for everyone, and by that i mean meaningless experience. There is a common belief that online games are fun or can only be fun for good players, which is true to some extent especially if you are of overly-competitive breed, but to me that is a fallacy, however it's often supported by the design of games themselves. To explain everything most clearly i will draw a few examples.

Take CS GO from the perspective of a blue-ranked player. When you are matched against a team that has three times the reaction to yours, and you instantly die all the time, even when you employ tactical thinking – like you use your grenades as a tool, you hold angles, you control your sprays, and the other teams doesn't care about anything like that and blindly rushes all the time and still destroys you, you really feel like there is absolutely nothing you can do. On the other end of the spectrum, when it is your team that completely shreds the other one, even though you might find it a little funny for a couple of times, it gets really boring when you don't feel a challenge. The most memorable rounds i've had are those that had nearly even scores, when both teams were fighting to their fullest ability and the winners just nicked the win – those games that are the most dramatic for the losers, most epic for the winners, and feel the most fair for everyone. Sadly i've had such matches maybe in like 110th of the time, most matches i've had the losing team win half of the matches, which still felt not like a fair challenge on either side for me.

This is not unique to CS GO, specifics of the games are different, but this trend is present in all of them, but it's not something that can ever be fixed with matchmaking, because you can only estimate the skill of a player so far, everyone has good and bad days, the skills of each player even though have different ceilings fluctuate all the time. A person may be slightly tired, or so overly excited that they disregard sensible strategies, or may just not be down to do their best, and already they are not at their peak, that's things not matchmaking system will ever be able to predict, but i've come to think that it's not actually the right place to find the solution to this problem, matchmaking can stay as it is but the biggest factor is actually not the system – it is the core design of the game by which after a certain skill gap your interaction with other players stops becoming meaningful.

I've had days in Rainbow Six Siege when i was at the top of the leaderboard the entire day in casual mode, i've had matches in Apex Legends when i scored 10-20 kills, but not many of those matches i actually felt that i had achieved a crazy feat, for most of them it felt like sheer luck or a too big of a skill difference. However, in Mordhau most of the times i won a fight or lost i actually felt that it was fair, like it didn't have any luck on either side involved, any kill or death was meaningful because i knew 100% they were always deserved.

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Titanfall 2 deserves a separate mention because i have never had as much fun in any multiplayer game as in this one. Because this game did something very different from all previously mentioned ones. Instead of going for being another one of those prove-your-skills round-based games akin to CS, or test-your-luck battle-royales like Apex Legends, it just focused on being a constant clusterfuck where every second shit goes down all around the map and you feel cool because for once your performance is nowhere near a factor in the meaningfulness of experience, i would argue that it actually came closer than others to having meaningless action due to that but the payoff was constant stream of emotions, death did not matter – you just respawn instantly and WILL kill someone, and the last chance mechanic in the end of each match is such a smart innovation, it's like the last nail on the coffin to bury the negative effects of under-performing competitively, because you get one additional rush of emotions running for your life for that last chance of experience boost. I also shred a LOT in this game, because it's so fun for me and the killing rush just kicks in.

Escape From Tarkov went a completely opposite route and achieved the golden peak of meaningful experience. I'll say it right away i suck at this game big time. Big boys destroy me without mercy but it's different from being destroyed in CS or R6. Because the game is much more slow paced and have longer-lasting consequences, every victory really feels like one, and every death feels that much more miserable, but in a good way, because unless due to some technical issue, you've been outplayed fair and square, outsmarted, outnumbered, they brought better ammo, you disregarded tactics, etc. I don't feel like most competitive games offer that kind of infuriating yet fair experience.

Which is weird, considering you do get the same tools in regular competitive games, which are supposed to be the most fair, while EFT is supposed to be the definition of unfair being how anyone has the advantage by having better equipment, and here it finally hits me when i think about it. Fair rules don't equate to fair experience. When an individual plays a game, he experiences it from his perspective, and if he can't see how he with his abilities ever had a chance in an encounter, he personally will not find it meaningful, he will not learn from it. A common counter argument to that is – learn from your mistakes, learn from how better players play, but if you get insta-killed the moment you peek a corner the only thing you can learn is to not peek that corner. But what if you can't not peek that corner, like in CS when you either go there or wait until the timer runs out and lose to that? What if the only thing you can conclude from a part of your experience is to not to do things a certain way because they put you in a disadvantage, and then you get destroyed by players who only use those disadvantageous tactics because compared to them no tactics will save you. I had instances where i died in R6 siege when i knew the enemy was behind a wooden wall and i spray it and die dealing 0 damage, realizing that they were prone – that felt meaningful because i didn't account for that and learned for the future that there is a tactic to lean prone behind a wooden door, i should look out for it and maybe utilize myself occasionally. Then there is another instance when my whole team gets obliterated on offence pretty much on round start because the enemy team rushed us on the first second and took all of us out before we could even make it to cover. What should my team learn from that, not to spawn on that side of the map, like, EVER?

The last part of my useless rambling i want to conclude by talking about the lack of overall meaningfulness of experience playing an online game as a whole. I almost never actually see an online game when winning or losing matters outside of losing. As a common trend, you occasionally get a useless skin, that's it. You don't achieve any milestone by winning 10 games in a row, you don't feel crushed after losing 10 games, you just either won 10 times or lost. And my gripe is not with games how they are, if you got performance boosts or penalties in games like Apex or R6 etc it would break those games. What instead my gripe is with that there is no visible innovation on the gaming scene that would actually shift the formula and introduce a broader sense of accomplishment. I guess MMORPG have a long time ago but i absolutely detest that type of games for a completely different set of reasons, right now i talk about competitive stuff. EFT does something new by letting you build up your stash, but after a certain point it stops being a concern and you don't feel that strong about making another few hundred thousand rubles or losing them, it you had several millions to rely on that is. Which is a problem with scale, and means it's fundamentally doomed to be this way unless something changes, but the game is still a long way before release so maybe it will. I just can't at the moment really give a solution to the problem of broader meaningfulness in online games, but it must be something fundamentally different from what we currently can find anywhere – not just a character progression, not inventory growth, not skin rewards and boosters.

P.S. & TLDR: I guess this text was kind of without a conclusion, there isn't one. I feel like online games half the time don't feel engaging at all, and playing them is a risk of potentially not having any fun because objectively fair experience does not mean a subjectively fair and meaningful one. I've only reeeally enjoyed playing, or meaningfully unenjoyed only a few games that took a very unique approach to designing their gameplay, while most other online games are more similar to each other in being less reliably enjoyable or meaningfully unenjoyable.

Subjectivity in every part of the text is implied and expected to be understood by readers. Thank you if you read this and more thanks if you replied meaningfully.

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