For the last week or so, I’ve been playing Earth Defense Force 4.1 online with friends almost every night.
The game itself, as mentioned before, is kind of a mess. But it’s a ton of fun to play online, and I’ve found myself really looking forward to the nightly sessions. (I missed last night due to a very late nap, and was disappointed when I finally woke up to see that it was too late to get started.)
Part of that “looking forward” is definitely just the joy of running around and shooting giant insects with rifles and lasers, but a big part of it is the socialization that comes with the game.
Neither of the other two regular players are that chatty1, but there’s a certain amount of camaraderie that comes from playing a game together. EDF is the sort of game where, for most of the missions, we can work independently, running around on the map and doing our own thing. We call out the big events and talk about movies and television while we pew-pew our way to victory.
Sometimes, though, the mission requires greater coordination. I usually call the shots on those levels, and that engenders a completely different type of joy from socializing: working together on a thing, doing that thing, and coming out successful at the other end is the sort of results that we are biologically hard-wired to really enjoy, and a hard-fought virtual battle tickles most of the same bits of our brains that surviving the real thing did back in our just-past-the-primates distant past.
And, really, it’s just nice to hear other people’s voices for a couple of hours every night.
I’ve mentioned before that a lack of regular social interaction the biggest issue I’ve had since I retired. Maybe the solution is as simple as getting a regular online game group going. I’ve never had a lot of success with this over the long term; usually one or more of the people involved get tired of whatever game we’re playing after a week or two and the whole thing falls apart. The last game we stuck to with any seriousness was the original Destiny.
Fortunately for this group, though, Earth Defense Force 5 just came out, and is waiting in the wings for when we get tired of this one. Hopefully we’ll last that long, and if not, maybe we can find another game to play the same way. Goodness knows there are enough out there. Surely we can strike gold a second, or third, time?
I can only hope.