Much has been written about accessible single switch games when compared to other game accessibility topics. I think there are more single switch games than audio games and close captioned games together (Although closed captioned games are becoming more and more prevalent). But many single switch games are are all quite a lonely thing to play. Not that playing by yourself is necessarily a bad thing. But the first ever to be created arcade game was a multiplayer game for a reason. We want to win against live opponents. This article will discuss, in short, why multiplayer, especially in single switch games, is cool. But it all boils down to this: Single switch games provide one button per player, if you want more buttons, increase the amount of players!
Where are all my friends?
Single switch games don’t often feature a multiplayer option. Why is this? Is it because multiplayer these days means “online” multiplayer? If that is the answer, than it’s a silly one. Multiply players on one keyboard was quite a common sight a few years ago, and with some games you simply need your buddy next to them to slap them when they win unfairly, in your eyes. With single switch games this is even more so. Every player only needs one button, and sometimes these buttons are mapped on a third party one switch controller, making more players on one computer an even better possibility and killing the dreaded “Keep your elbows on your side of the keyboard!” problem. Is it because you need more than one impaired person too play multiplayer one switch games? No, People without impairments can play too, and if the game is a good game they will enjoy it no less than a multi-button game. Is it because the designers are limiting their creative minds to “One button! One button! One button!” instead of “One button per player! One button per player!”? You know, you might be on to something. Lets wake them up if this is the case!
Ah there they are!
So what does multiplayer adds to single switch games? Next to the obvious advantages that non-single switch games derive from multiplayer. Chaos! You would not believe the light hearted fun people derive from chaos. Play any version of super Smash Brothers and you will experience firsthand that lots of input and lots of output will generate hectic gameplay. And that hectic gameplay is fun! People like to be overwhelmed while still being able to follow what exactly happens. Limited input makes for limited output however, and increasing the amount of player will increase the input and thus will increase the output.
Apart from that it might just generate chaos off screen. Some games in the old “Micro Machines” series could even be played by two players on one controller! Sitting sideways both players had a limited amount of buttons and some things where automated (like moving forward). You could play the game with 4 controllers and 8 players. Chaos!
Co-op, players working together, is another fine example of what multiplayer could bring us. I would also advocate playing mainstream games with more than one player controlling one protagonist, but this could, in some cases, be a bit TOO hectic. These games are not designed to be played by more players, but more power to the people that beat it like that anyhow. Games that ARE designed to be played in Co-Op with more than one player with one button each, could have a bit more… designed… chaos.
To illustrate all of this, I created a small and simple multiplayer single switch snake clone. It features single player, Co-op and VS mode up to 12 players mapped on a single keyboard! (They are mapped on the 12 function keys and probably need to be remaped to hardware buttons) You will notice that fun will grow when shared with more people!