Monday, 3 March 2008

Internet Gaming Michief!

Newsflash! Online gaming is no longer confined to the PC, if you own an Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Wii there’s a high probability that you are or have in the past played over either Live, PSN or the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for those dedicated enough to endure the ridiculous friend code system, although they all essentially take place in the same domain the experiences on each service is undoubtedly different. When I say experience I don’t mean the experience we have in terms of the performance of the services, or the usability, what I’m referring to is the social interaction that players have with each other, the experience of playing with complete strangers from around the world over the service. I have a number of friends with Xbox 360’s but the majority of them turn down my invitations to play over Live in favor of the PC or PS3 – why? No, it’s not because I like to break into verses of ‘I know a song that’ll get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves’ while talking to them in private chat, it’s the experience they’ve had in the past with the Live service.

In addition to being the online gamers service of choice Xbox Live is also the most hostile and unfriendly social gaming environments in the history of online gaming, it’s pretty obvious that in any situation where a person interacts with others with complete anonymity there will be an abundance of… ‘douchebags’, for lack of a better term, but Live seems to have become the epicenter of internet douchbaggery, which got me thinking about PSN -- although there’s no comparison in the hours of time I’ve racked up in PSN to Xbox Live the experience I’ve had has been drastically different, my play sessions on PSN have been quite pleasant in comparison, the lack of profanity, name calling and general unpleasant behavior has made for a good change of pace. But why is it that the usual breed of internet hoodlums don’t seem to be as regular of a feature in Warhawk, Burnout or Resistance, the fanboy will say “coz PS3 is lame tbh, nobody plays the games and noone has headsets”, but being the drugged up optimist that I am I prefer to think of it as a reflection of the type of people playing on the PS3, that’s not to say that everyone playing on Xbox Live is a douchebag, saying that would be a false generalization and would amount to effectively painting a large target in permanent ink on my forehead but from my experiences with both the services I’ve found the random gamers I encounter on PSN seem less inclined to tell me I suck then spend the time to accurately position their crotches over my lifeless head and sit on it over and over again.

The fact that online games aren’t as widely played over PSN is a contributory factor which cannot be denied, which is why I am looking forward to seeing what happens when we finally get Playstation Home, the service encourages meeting up and interacting with other players and facilitates the social interaction through allowing users to communicate via the virtual on screen keyboard, Bluetooth or USB keyboards, e-motes and the good old headset -- the possibilities for mischief are endless. Home will be where the PSN users reveal their true colors and the Playstation Network solidifies its position as either yet another unfriendly network filled with wayward gamers or something a little more family friendly.

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