Thursday, September 8, 2016

Playing games with Strangers

Sometime in the Spring of last year I finished my full time studies at Tyndale and switched over to being a part time student. I only had three credits left to finish and I spread them out across a few semesters. I had dropped part time work while I finished my studies because I was also finishing an internship at a church, so when May of 2015 rolled around, there was a considerable lull in my schedule. One day while I was sitting around looking for something to do, I picked up Destiny which I had bought the previous September for my PS3 because I had some birthday money I needed to spend. I had played it for maybe three hours and then given up on it. I picked it back up because people kept talking about how great it was. Flash forward a year and a half and Destiny has ironically saved me a ton of money. I have spent less than $150 since buying it because I literally have no interest in playing other games. It's fun, it always gives me something to do, and I can play at any time for short bursts.

Destiny is an inherently social game in some senses. It's always online and the game world is constantly populated by other players who are on different adventures which come in contact with yours at a tangent. Their names flash by in an instant and disappear. Because the game matches you by internet connection, you will sometimes get matched up with the same strangers more than once. I encountered the same guy in one of the social spaces of the game on two separate occasions about a month apart. We figured out it's because we're both in Toronto.

The game also blocks access to some parts if you don't have enough "friends" to play with. I use the term friends loosely here. It just means that you are connected with people that you have communicated with outside of the game. When I first started playing I mostly ignored this kind of stuff because I had no microphone and no way to communicate with other people so I figured it was basically off limits. As I played more, I found some tools that help you to meet other players, including a really helpful website called the100.io

This morning I completed an achievement that marked the end of stuff to do in the second year of the game. It involved a coordinated effort between six people in specific roles to do in a reasonable amount of time. I had never played with any of the five I did it with before. We finished the whole thing in an hour. I was breathing heavily the entire time, nervous that I was going to screw up for this group of strangers. I didn't. We were successful.

If you had told me two years ago that I would be doing this kind of thing I wouldn't have believed you. I am generally afraid of strangers. How I get by at Starbucks always amazes me. And I know it's a video game and it's kind of stupid, but it feels good to be able to say that I can participate in something I enjoy with other people who also enjoy it and we can happily enjoy it all together. I am happy to have finished the second year of Destiny, and I hope this transfers into other parts of life.

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