Bigwigs talk multiplayer gaming

'Solo play is like masturbation.'

Electronic Arts' former VP of global online operations, Lars Butler, has declared that multiplayer gaming is the future - and that solo play is a bit like giving yourself a Bachelor's Treat.

Butler, who is now CEO of new firm TWN, was speaking in a panel discussion focusing on online gaming at California's Churchill Club. As reported by US website GameSpot, Butler said: "Linear entertainment in single-player is to media what masturbation is to sex. It'll always be there, but it is not the real experience."

Butler's comments were echoed by Raph Koster, chief creative officer at Sony Online Entertainment, who perhaps unsurprisingly also believes that online gaming is The Future. And he's not kidding.

"The entire video game industry's history thus far has been an aberration. It has been a mutant monster only made possible by unconnected computers," Koster said.

"People always play games together. All of you learned to play games with each other. When you were kids, you played tag, tea parties, cops and robbers, what have you. The single-player game is a strange mutant monster which has only existed for 21 years and is about to go away because it is unnatural and abnormal."

And once an online gamer, always an online gamer, Koster went on: "The players, once they go connected, they don't go back. They find it difficult to go back to experiences where they can't share experiences with others. Even any single-player game today is going to have wrapped around it the forums, the cheat sites, and so on endlessly."

"Using the word 'connection' even feels small. It's a place. And all of this industry is moving toward realising this, and all of this is going to be a place that serves a medium like entertainment in a lot of ways beyond shooting games."

Butler said he agreed that online gaming is going to have a "revolutionary" effect on gaming, telling the audience: "I think that most companies that are still going strong today will wake up tomorrow as if they've been hit by a truck. It is such a fundamental shift in the industry."

Good old Peter Moore popped up to throw his two cents in, stating that in The Future, "If your console isn't connected, it's no different than a laptop that doesn't connect to the Internet. It's an inferior experience and it really is a step backwards for the industry... Offline seems primitive at this point."

What's more, Moore continued, you can say goodbye to rubbish old shops, for soon they will be no more. "Let's be fair. Whether it's five, 10, 15, 20 years from now, the concept of driving to the store to buy a plastic disc with data on it and driving back and popping it in the drive will be ridiculous. We'll tell our grandchildren that and they'll laugh at us." Except they won't, because they'll be too busy wirelessly mainlining online videogames made of pure light directly into their brains, of course. In space.

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