Live simulation games are created for multiple players using multiple computers simultaneously to game in one room.
In Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator, made for Windows only, there can be between 3 to 6 players playing at once. There are 5 stations, each controlled by a computer, and one person plays the captain and tells the others what to do. In a way, this makes it a team building game. Although the game is now available to play over the Internet using a chat system, it is important to the people at Artemis that players play in one room together, making it more lifelike. They have made the Internet version possible because of demand but it is not in their aims. People at Artemis say they want players to be able to ‘push the helmsman aside and shout “Full power, DAMN you!!!”’ They want to camaraderie put back into gaming.
Video games were invented as a social medium, to be enjoyed by all the family. Tennis For Two, arguably the first video game ever made, was created to be multiplayer only so it could be enjoyed amongst friends and family alike. Early 90s game consoles were aimed at families and advertised using pictures of perfect families smiling over how much fun they were having together. The consoles also came with two controllers as standard. It was branded as a form of family entertainment.
These days not many games have the ability to play in the same room, particularly not on separate computers. Many have even lost their multiplayer split screen format. However, Halo can run on two adjacent TVs, giving up to eight people in the same room to enjoy the game together using a split screen mode.
It is argued that playing games in the same room is far more interactive and engaging. It encourages people to be social and enjoy games together. Many people say playing with your friends online using a headset is simply not the same. Sometimes it can be hard to gather people together and create time to play in the same room but the overall atmosphere and joking around is far more enjoyable. Also, the general invective nature of gaming is far funnier in real-life; being insulted by randomers is far less entertaining than being playfully ridiculed by your friends.
However, since gaming in the same room encourages real-life interaction, this could cause friction between friends due to the competitive nature of certain games. Most live simulation games do have players working together as a team though. Also many people enjoy gaming independently, sitting playing role playing games such as Mass Effect purely to relax and while away their time.
It seems though, that interactive simulation games are taking off. The London Hack Space has built a disaster simulator called the LHS Bikeshed in an old camper to tour and allow gamers from all over to be involved. The spaceship simulator is an interactive game where the player must prevent the disaster occurring by fixing the wiring and maintenance problems in a set time limit. Members of the London Hack Space say touring with an interactive game like this is brilliant because of its realistic quality. It allows multiple gamers to experience first hand the terror and adrenaline of a disaster without actually experiencing one, generating a team atmosphere and a lot of fun. That’s what everyone wants out of a game, isn’t it? Fun and adrenaline. So it looks like this is the way forward when it comes to games.