The last generation of consoles dabbled in online gaming.
The PlayStation 2 and Xbox allowed gamers to play against one another online, but it was hardly a perfect setup. Technology advances quickly, and network connections just weren’t what they needed to be in 2004.
But after online gaming was offered by consoles back then, there was little doubt that it would have a larger presence on the next generation of consoles. Now, offline gaming is unheard of by many gamers.
I play online a number of times a week, but it’s almost always with friends. I generally don’t play against strangers, mostly because most of the ones I encounter online don’t seem to be quality individuals.
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While Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network are great advances, they could both use a little reform.
Now, I have more experience playing on Xbox Live — largely because the PlayStation Network never seems to work efficiently on my PlayStation 3.
I have run into some real characters — including a group of four gamers from West Virginia who had no problem making racist slurs over the network while playing “Grand Theft Auto IV.”
I’ve played with numerous people who will turn off the game or end it rather than lose — this happens all the time in sports games.
In the case of the guys from West Virginia, I filed a complaint with Xbox and nothing was done. I even received harassing messages from them.
What gaming needs is a rating system similar to the one used by Ebay.
The online auction site allows users to post feedback about other users. This allows every consumer the opportunity to question whether or not they want to interact with a specific seller or buyer.
Xbox Live does allow you to recommend the gamer, either by giving them a positive or a negative rating. But you should be allowed to write a sentence or two about the gamer.
If one person had 30 or 40 negative complaints about them, I think a lot of people would have pause about playing against that person. I know a rating system could infringe on a person’s right to play online — they did pay $50 or $60 for the game to play online — but it could curtail the knuckleheads who currently ruin many gamers’ online experiences.
Online gaming has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go.