The news and social media feeds of this past weekend were dominated by the Women’s March, the worldwide protest march that drew at least half a million participants in Washington DC, and by some estimates, at total of 4.8 million in various cities around the globe. It was quite an amazing feat that so many people could gather so quickly and do so peacefully. Now, I don’t get much into politics in this blog about games, so I am inspired by the cooperative spirit involved in this event to discuss cooperative gameplay.
Cooperative gameplay occurs in multiplayer games when players coordinate their actions or share resources to reach a goal. Cooperation may be an explicit stipulation of the game’s rules: simply provide a main goal of which success or failure of its achievement results in all the players winning or losing, respectively, the game together. Cooperation may also be implicit if the goal cannot possibly be achieved by a player working alone, such as when each player is given a different but necessary piece of a puzzle.
Team-based gameplay is the easiest way to put cooperation into a game. At the start of the game, players are separated into two or more groups in which each member must coordinate their actions to reach a common goal.
Cooperation can also arise dynamically during gameplay when players’ actions or the resources for performing those actions are limited, and player must work together if they hope to achieve a goal immediately or in the short term. However, the rewards for achieving the goal must be ones that can be shared among the players for them to have incentives to work together.
If a game has several goals that can be achieved in parallel, players may decide to assign individual goals to each players so that individual players can focus their actions and resources to achieving their assigned goals. Such goal assignments are likely to happen when each player has unique actions or resource allocation that are useful for achieving goals.
Even in games in which players don’t have mutual goals, players can cooperate with each other simply by agreeing not to hinder or harm the other player. And in today’s political climate, even such a base level of cooperation would be a welcome relief for many players.