Not long ago, we featured a piece on why Ark: Survival Evolved is still so popular. And one of the points was that while joining a tribe is a fun way to go about the game, there's something to be said for going through the motions in solo mode. Indeed, the option essentially multiplies the dynamics of the game so that it can be experienced in various ways. While in that piece we were acknowledging the upside of solo participation in an MMO game, here I'd like to highlight the fact that a sense of community is truly one of the primary reasons we love MMOs.
This is actually most evident when we look at video games that don't fall into the MMO genre—at least not technically - and we can find such games on consoles, at online slot machine arcades, and even in apps. Perhaps most of all in open-world console games, multiplayer and co-op modes have become such standard fare that one of last year's biggest titles (Fallout 4) has been questioned for not including such modes. Mashable caught up with some Fallout 4 creators and were seeking an explanation. The response was essentially that Bethesda gave it some thought but ultimately decided to focus on single player. The takeaway, however, is that multiplayer and co-op modes fostering a sense of online community have become a norm, so much so that a game many people reviewed as nearly flawless had to answer for the exclusion of communal options.
The sense of community has also been behind the rise of the online casino industry, which is represented primarily by a huge variety of slot gaming options. It's evidenced by the fact that the most active sites allow for regular competition between members, online tournaments, and additional features simulating the personal, interactive environment of a real casino. Betfair's online gaming hub has gone so far as to start offering live dealer options, which allows multiple players to compete in an environment mediated by a human officiator. While the aforementioned slot gaming options that generate much of the activity for a site like this help to promote a realistic casino environment, the live dealer features add a real sense of community interaction.
The same phenomenon—that of interactive options enhancing existing games—has become apparent in the app stores for mobile device. We've seen Scrabble transformed into Words With Friends; tower defense options like Bloons Tower Defense altered for competitive purposes (with Bloons TD Battles); and even the classic fighter format used in massive multiplayer games like Injustice: Gods Among Us and Marvel's Contest of Champions.
Basically, these other gaming formats are figuring out what MMO enthusiasts have known for some time: gaming can and should be social. Also, interacting with others online enhances the experience more often than it detracts from them. It's certainly true that there are solo modes that can be a lot of fun, but even in such modes there's a sense of constant activity (with shopkeepers, those who can give you missions, etc.) that adds a social element. And as fans of so many other types of gaming are still in the process of discovering, that's exactly what makes them great.
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