So – believe it or not, I’m not a complete shut-in. I do have friends (and even a girlfriend!) and videogames is not all I do every day. However, recently I’ve been mixing the two, and with great success. Once the Playstation 3 was discovered by my friends in the residence hall here, there’s a steady flow of people coming in for “one round [of Call of Duty] before class” or a lazy night of gaming after homework. With this addition to the daily jumble that is college, I have been reminded of the fun of split-screen gaming. Sure, my 24″ monitor has been reduced to the puny 12″ section in the top left (Yes, I do demand to be player 1. What o f it?) but it’s a blast! As usual, Call of Duty 4 floats my boat just fine, but I’ve also had quite a blast with Gears of War 2 (Horde, anyone?), Guitar Hero 3, and Little Big Planet.
I know what you’re thinking: “But you can play online against people and it’s the same thing.” It’s not though. No matter how many times you insist that you don’t, everyone “screen peeks” to see where the opponents are. Smack talking is actually fun, because you don’t end up hating the opponent (as long as you leave his mother out of it and he does the same), and you can celebrate headshots in a way that would just feel strange in a room by yourself.
My biggest problem with split screen gaming is the sound. I use my sound a lot to locate enemies, hear my surroundings, etc. When I throw a grenade and hear it land next to my opponent, it still makes me jump and panic, thinking it’s next to me. Since both PS3 and Xbox 360 have abandoned ports for their controllers, I say they replace them with headphone jacks, so that each player gets his own audio without having to mix it with the others. But that’s just me.
The point is, split screen gaming isn’t just for fitting multiple geeks in the same room – that’s a LAN party, and we bring our own screens, thank you very much – it’s a great way to hang out with friends and a good medium for all sorts of social occasions. I don’t want to see split screen stop coming out for games that become online-only. It’s a different game and just as much fun, if not more.