Gaming Solipsism: The Death of Offline Play

By Alexander Leach

Diablo 3 isn’t high on my wish list for games to play. I’m shifting back into the mindset where I rarely play new games (saving money and stress by waiting a few months, at the risk of being spoiled for it). Most of what I’ve heard of the game is rather intriguing; it appears to be a solid third game in the series, with a decent single-player story.

Assuming people can play it.

D3 requires that the player be logged onto the Internet to play even the single-player, so that the game can be continuously authenticated. This means you effectively have to be playing multiplayer at all times, except that you play alone. It’s a bit like playing an MMO solo (something that I often wound up doing, though not by choice); if you’re not going to play with others, why even be on the Internet?

This isn’t something new; Steam pretty much requires you’re connected to the Internet to play games you have through it. Console games often expect you to be connected as well; Demon’s Souls has a lot of content that is extremely difficult to do in single-player. It’s rare to have a game that doesn’t have some online component to it.

It’s just that easy.

We’re in a time where our computers are connected at all times. Despite the lack of unlimited download in Canada, every computer is almost always plugged into the Internet. It’s assumed that everyone has access to the net, so what’s the issue?

Well, for one thing, travel. I want to be able to play a full game when I’ve got my laptop; handheld games and phone-based games just aren’t interesting to me (and a lot of these games are free browser games anyway). Internet connections on trains or planes or in hotels are usually pretty bad for gaming, and require a lot of tedious passwords and authentications. Owning a game and being able to play whenever you want is a great feeling, as is knowing that your game is only at the mercy of your machine’s fickle hardware and your own time, rather than the whims of people online and of your connection to their machines.

I think having the option would be a nice compliment to the fans, personally. I hope the gaming companies aren’t too busy thinking about DLC and piracy to remember that.

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