Synchronized Grunting

Played the first bit of the co-op version of Gears of War 2 with Gordon this evening. This was particularly interesting to me because I hardly ever play games with anyone else. That’s just the way I are. So this was a chance to think a little about how co-op influences my play.

Gears of War 2 itself is, well, more of the same. But it’s interesting to compare my experience with the first game, in which I played alone, and this section of the second in co-op. In the first game I was focused on moving through the areas, shooting the appropriate dudes, and feigning interest in the narrative (which was “good enough” I suppose). I was most taken by the system itself, the tightness of the implementation of the set pieces and so on the game presented.

In playing co-op, there was a stepping back from both the narrative and the game system in favour of conversation and, basically, ridiculing the game’s narrative and game system. Now, both of these things are worthy of some amount of ridicule (especially the grossly overwrought macho narrative), but it’s not something that would particularly occur to me to think if I were playing alone – I’d be in the thrall of the mechanics of the game.

The game thus became a kind of grudging interfacing with the game’s mechanics as something we were doing (not playing), while joking about the narrative setting and any of the game mechanics we felt distaste for. Being all arch and academic, I suppose that the game became a kind of performance space for humour.

It’s like doing stand-up, but you shoot alien dudes in the face while you tell the jokes.

29 July 2010
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