Shortly after my frustrating re-start of Call of Duty, I got asked to play FIFA 17 (EA Sports, 2016) with a friend. So I just went to his apartment for a match or two, but we ended up playing it for three hours.
While I am writing this, I wonder about a thought I just had, a couple of hours later after I got back from my friends apartment:
Playing FIFA with a friend doesn’t feel like a video game.
Maybe the reason for that feeling is, that playing a sports video game together (especially FIFA), while both players actually sit next to each other in one room, became a totally normal and natural activity to me over the years. I started playing FIFA with real life friends at the young age of eight or nine, and it never stopped. We have played it together at the age of 14 and at the age of 22 and even on the last days before I went on the journey of my semester abroad in Canada. If I look back, this is actually the one and only activity I did with my friends in a continuous way, independently from time and age.
Although it is still a video game from a logical point of view, it became kind of a social activity. It was a reason to walk to each others house, grab a drink, and enjoy being together. And that social flair within a match of FIFA with a friend sitting next to you distinguishes it from many other games. Singleplayer games are created to be played alone. Even the most popular online games have little to zero social flair attached. But that match of FIFA, ohh, I could be excited the whole day when I knew I’ll be challenging a friend again; it’s like going out, but with the use of a game console.
In addition, the feelings and emotions are distinctly higher and more intensive while challenging a friend side by side. Every reaction of your friend, if verbal or nonverbal, and every single action in the game makes one totally happy or ludicrously frustrated. It is this up and down of feelings and emotions and the immediate possibility of reaction to each other, that makes us forget time, that deepens a friendship, and to get back to my opening thought, it makes us forget that we actually are playing a video game.
Yeah, it is much more than that. It is a social event for two players. Every single match is intimate, it is an intimate adventure of two friends.