Combat and Cooperation

So I play a little game popularly known as Grand Theft Auto V. If you didn’t know, this game is the center of a ton of discussion about whether or not video-games are good for society. Do they make people more violent? Do they let people blow off steam, making them less violent?

I don’t know and I’m not tossing my hat in the ring on that one.

But I will talk about my personal experience and my journey of aggression to pacifism within the game itself.

Let me give you some preface:

I’ve played plenty of Call of Duty, which is a popular multiplayer first person shooter.

In Call of Duty there are plenty of different game modes but none of them have choice, they just have strict objectives. Sure you might have a team to cooperate with but it all still boils down to completing the objective (which always has combat involved).

There aren’t people, there are teammates and there are enemies. I’m not saying that in a sociopathic way I’m just saying that in the sense that you are thrust into a warzone to complete an objective, and there is nothing else to do but to complete the objective.

And then I started playing GTA V.

GTA V multiplayer is a completely different game. It has no strict objectives until you get into a mission, it just has a giant world to free-roam in. And that giant world has tons of other players just roaming around, doing their own thing.

And this is where the disconnect happened, even in a world with as much violence, car theft, and explosions as GTA V, nobody likes to be bothered when their trying to do their own thing. If I’m going to get a haircut in the game I hate when I get shot at hundreds of times before I can park my car in front of the barber.

And yet, when I first started playing it I didn’t understand that, I just contributed to the onslaught on the people just trying to get a nice perm for their character.

And I had fun. Kind of. Not really though, because after I killed them a couple of times and then they killed my a couple of times it would just become a boring battle between me and perm-man.

And I stopped playing, not for any particular reason, but just because I had other games to play.

And then a couple of weeks ago I booted it back up and started playing it with a completely different mindset. I tried to cooperate with everyone who was willing to cooperate and distancing myself from the people who were more willing to start combat.

And it has easily become one of the most satisfying gaming experiences of my life.

It’s a strange thing that you can pull up to somebody walking on the sidewalk, honk your horn a few times, and after they get in y’all can head off on some adventure around the map. All of this with no words, no communication, no guarantee that they just won’t turn on you and shoot you.

And yet everything goes off without a hitch, pure cooperation with no communication.

In games like these it is easily more fun to try to initiate cooperation before you initiate combat.


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