From Solo to Social: Dive into the World of Co-op Games and Forge Unbreakable Bonds

I have loved playing cooperative games since I was a young child. While I appreciated single-player games, like Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted, I was always eager to play games alongside my family and friends. I could never put my finger on the pulse of why this feeling was strong with me. There was just something about being able to complete a game with another person that always intrigued me. 

Having recently completed It Takes Two with my girlfriend, I decided I would do some research on co-op games. To my surprise, I learned the world lacks co-op exclusive games. The feeling of accomplishment after completing a video game with a partner is one of the best feelings in the world. 

In a world full of single-player focused games, co-op exclusive games serve as a largely untouched market ripe for development. The idea of a world of only co-op exclusive games is not realistic. Yet, I do believe the opportunity for more of these types of games is clear and present in an ever-growing gaming environment. 

The cover art from It Takes Two - one of my favorite co-op games

What Exactly are Cooperative Games?

A cooperative game allows more than one player to work as a team to complete a mission or set objectives as a part of a storyline. The key components of co-op games are often problem-solving, communication, and an understanding that the game cannot be completed solo. There are many types of co-op games, but I am going to focus on the top three.

The first type of co-op game allows players to drop in and out of the story. A phenomenal example of this type of co-op game is Resident Evil 5. Players can complete the entire storyline independently. However, if they are looking to spice up the experience of fighting off zombies and mutants, a second player can join in the place of the AI partner. This type of co-op experience creates an equal level of fun for both solo and team-oriented gamers.

The second type of co-op game offers a storyline separate from the primary single-player storyline. These types of games give a chance for players to have the best of both independent gaming and collaborative gaming. An example of this type of game is Portal 2. In the game, players are offered a typical solo storyline. However, this story is not the only one, with players being offered the opportunity to complete a co-op only story. A dynamic like this ensures teamwork is utilized to enjoy the game’s entirety. 

Lastly, the third type of co-op game is co-op exclusive. These types of games do not offer a  single-player mode. This means that even the most independent of gamers must work with a partner to complete the game. It Takes Two is the perfect example of this as you cannot play the game by yourself. Of course, there might be ways around the system. This is especially true for the master gamers who can play with two controllers simultaneously, but this is an exception. For the most part, a co-op exclusive game requires teamwork to complete the game.

The cover art from Portal 2, which depicts ATLAS and P-body

Presenting the Case for Co-op Exclusive Games

The need for more co-op exclusive games comes to one thing: community-building. In playing with my girlfriend, I learned that co-op exclusive games can help with bridging the gap between gamers and non-gamers. I originally never expected us to get past the first level of It Takes Two. However, we continued to progress each weekend until we finally beat the game. This showed me that sometimes community-building isn’t just through sharing knowledge about the industry. Sometimes, it is just easy enough to present the opportunity for co-op gameplay and see where things go.

I also learned that the bond that forms following the completion of a game with a friend or significant other is unlike any other. Not only can you always look back at your accomplishment, but you open a gateway for more collaborative experiences. The fact that one journey through a story with a friend can lead to more opportunities for cooperative gaming is such a wonderful outcome.

I believe that cooperative games can serve as a way of community building for the future of gaming. The more gamers and non-gamers come together, the more opportunities will present themselves for the entire gaming community. The possibilities are endless as more people unite across various genres. 

We Were Here

A New Dawn for Co-op Games

The need for co-op exclusive games is not just about answering my childhood dreams of all games having some element of cooperative play. The need for more co-op exclusive games is a beacon to the world. In an ever-tumultuous world, these types of games can be used to bring people together. It is not going to solve all of the problems around the world. However, I know co-op exclusive games have the capability to at least help in the process of bringing people together. 

From a business standpoint, I see the type of game as a unique niche that still has yet to be populated. It is highly likely that a game development company, potentially one in the virtual reality space, will take hold of this. For now, it seems to continue to be a space that is explored infrequently. 
Regardless of what I’d like to come next in the co-op game space, as a lover of stories I am eager for the next great cooperative adventure. For me, I loved It Takes Two because of the cinematic story tied with the co-op exclusivity. The same could be said for games like Medal of Honor: Rising Sun and Medal of Honor: European Assault, which my brother and I always treated as co-op exclusive. This is not at all to discount single-player games, which have significantly contributed to the gaming community. It all comes down to the global advancement of great stories, communities, and gaming culture.

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