I couldn't tell where I was, or who or what I was shooting at. We endured a few missions together, then I cabbed it home, promising Vic that I'd jump online and play over the Net with him.
As soon as I got home, I ate a pickle. Then I fell fast asleep with one of my cats curled up on my chest. I woke up around 6:30. I turned on the Xbox, and got Lost Planet 2 working. I texted Vic, asking him if he was ready to go. He said he was busy downloading the Halo Reach beta, and that I should join him there. I said, "No."
Now I'd read that Lost Planet 2 really doesn't offer much in the way of a single-player experience. No matter. I tried to play a bit more of the campaign on my own, with three A.I.-controlled partners rounding out my party. The A.I. was just fucking worthless. I had to do everything on my own. Idiots.
A few hours later, presumably after he'd tired of Reach, Vic pinged me. He was ready to get online. Suddenly, I was overcome with some kind of videogame inertia. The last thing I wanted to do in the world right then was go online and play more Lost Planet 2. I don't know how else to put this other than to say this: I simply was not in the mood.
And that's my problem with multiplayer gaming in general. I need to really feel up to doing it in order to, you know, do it. I despise all the time-wasting you have to do in lobbies, waiting for other players to check in, or log on, or update their 360s or whatever. There's always a ton of farting around that needs to happen in order to make a multiplayer session work. There is nothing I hate more than sitting in front of my TV, stupid headset on my head, waiting for someone to join my party.
I can feel myself slowing inching towards death in these moments. This is the exact opposite of a good time for me. And this is the exact opposite of why I enjoy playing games. I play games because I want to get wrapped up in the fiction; I play games to escape. I play games because, frankly, I need a break from the world, and, to be more specific, from people in general.
People. I love them, but sometimes they wear me out. Even my closest friends.
I also despise the inherent competitiveness of multiplayer gaming. Even in cooperative situations, like Left4Dead, there's always that load-out screen, where kill numbers are tallied and your performance is quantified via various stats and data. I call this the Mine Is Bigger Than Yours moment. And yes, I hate it.
Vic, partly out of frustration, texted me last night saying, "I'm adding multiplayer gaming to your list of phobias." And you know what? I think I do have a weird phobia around it. I absolutely dread it.
I attribute some of my dread to the fact that I grew up with a brother who was only a year younger than I was. In school, in sports, he and I competed constantly. It felt like the first 18 years of my life was one long competition.
So I don't seek out competition now, not actively. Yes, it's nice if you're at the top of your friend leaderboard for Street Fighter IV. I don't want to fight you. I don't want those Mine Is Bigger Than Yours moments. I don't need them. So you guys have your fun online. I'm happiest, and most comfortable, playing offline, solo, doing my own thing. Seriously, I am.