Monday, March 29, 2010

Bots = People?

I was having an interesting conversation this evening about Team Fortress 2.  The man I was speaking with was describing his experiences playing against bots (essentially a single-player version) versus playing multiplayer against other people when he uttered the phrase, "It is really no different from playing against people."

I interrupted him right there to ask if him if he had actually said that... he had. The dumbfounded expression on my face must have asked every question running through my head at that moment because without further verbal provocation on my part he went on to explain why.

The bots were programmed to be funny and interactive and so it was just like playing with people, he told me. 

I continued to stare at him in confusion.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around this idea.  I have played single player games that I have enjoyed, but never have any of them felt the same to me as playing a multiplayer game against or with other people.

It reminded me, however, of something a friend had once told me.  This friend had spontaneously gquit while I happened to be sitting behind him chatting.  I was aghast and asked him why he had done that after having played with this group of people for so long.  He calmly explained that these were really just characters in the game to him and that he had only stayed with them for as long as he did because they had provided him with the game support he needed. He left in that moment because he didn’t think he needed them anymore. 

I asked him whether he had any friends in the guild, and responded by reiterating the point he had made earlier - these weren’t really people as far as he was concerned and so he really didn’t care if they had any reaction to his sudden gquit.

Both of these people were casual gamers and not particularly what one would colloquially call a "social butterfly." Maybe that has something to do with the attitude.  I certainly did not find anything like this in any of the WoW guilds I played with, but then again all of them were either hardcore or based on irl social connections.  So maybe being hardcore is a positive thing? The more one plays the more social they are.

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