Soapbox: Parallel Play Is The New Couch Co-Op, And Minecraft Is Perfect For It

Parallel play
Image: Aline Viana Prado

I haven’t seen some of my friends in months. Others, I have not seen in five. Partly because of the pandemic, and partly because I moved the country 4 years ago, and also partly because I don’t understand the permanence of the object very well, so if I can’t see the face of someone on a regular basis, I can forget that they exist. But with the synergy of Discord, the internet, and my huge library of video games, I can roam around fantasy worlds with my friends whenever I like.

I wrote about cooperative and multiplayer games in May, saying that I really wish there were more co-op games without having to kill each other or others. At that time, I played a lot Valheim, that’s great because it’s PvE (player versus environment) not PvP (player versus player); Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Astroneer similarly, it’s all about working together and apart to build community and home base.

Me, riding my new Strider pet
Me, riding my new Strider pet

These days, I return to my Minecraft zest. I was at a Discord server with a few friends and someone mentioned starting up a Minecraft server – and just a few days later, I woke up at 3am to build a virtual aquarium.

I love Minecraft, you see – I love the collecting aspects, the excitement of upgrades, zen-like mining, inventory management, and the creative freedom to build anything you can. imagine.

Another player on the server built what we call "Cottage"; it has an axolotl . enclosure
Another player on the server built what we call “The Cottage”; it has an axolotl . enclosure

But I’ve never played with this many people before. It’s scary (they’re all really good at the game) and fascinating (I keep coming across other people’s builds around the world), but above all, it’s a collaboration in every way. .

The server is founded on social ideas: everything in the center of town is shared, including resources, farms, and XP grinders; If you want to build a beautiful castle, someone may offer to help you or share their materials.

This server is a utopia of kindness and generosity, and thank goodness for that; I wouldn’t have nearly as many diamonds if I had to make my own. With the help of my friends, I was able to overcome a lot of the repetitive boredom and panic of starting Minecraft, and instead, focus on creating the cutest house that I can. I can.

My house!
My house!
Important sign outside my house!
Important sign outside my house!

But cooperation is only half of the whole. The other half is what we do when we’re not collaborating, often just working on our own projects while doing Discord calls together. Our projects are often thousands of blocks apart – for this we’ve created an ingenious system of teleporting nodes in a centralized hub – but during the Discord call, we are in the same place.

This way of playing, known as “parallel play”, is a common behavior among children. “Children play side by side,” read Wikipedia page trang, “but don’t try to influence each other’s behavior.” It’s an engaging way to socialize, as two or more people may be interested in the same activity, but not necessarily in doing exactly the same thing.

In children, parallel play is a way of developing social skills before those skills are developed enough for the child to be able to socialize effectively; In adults, especially those separated by time zones and geographies, it’s a way to get that all-important friendship time without having to change your behavior too much. Anyway, I’m going to play Minecraft (or other video games); If I could do it while hanging out with people, it would be two birds with one stone.

What I love most about parallelism is how it highlights the range of skills, expertise, interests, and abilities of a group of people: I might want to build machines that make my Minecraft experience effective. more effective, while others will consider it necessary to help towards their goal of building a giant castle that requires 10,000 dark prisms. But with parallel play, we’ll go around each other, filling the gaps in each other’s knowledge without ever really getting in each other’s way.

I may have accidentally made a raid happen and within seconds everyone online at the time agreed to help fight the invasion.
I may have accidentally made a raid happen and within seconds everyone online at the time agreed to help fight the invasion.

Usually, we’ll be silent for a few minutes until someone asks, “does anyone have any extra bones left?” We’ll all come together briefly to share and swap blocks, then kick back with our own little dance. As we complete our projects, we can choose to share them or keep them as our little secret, and it doesn’t matter; We can even contribute to other people’s work, like when I built a water elevator for my friend’s zombie blender. We end up sharing what we can to make the whole place a better place.

I highly recommend parallel play for both extroverts and introverts: you can join and chat if you want, or you can silently bask in the soft light of your digital presence. other people. You can leave whenever you want; you can stay until 3am. Progress is made both with and without you, and people will comment on the work you’ve done or leave small gift packages on your doorstep.

When I needed coral for my aquarium, a friend lent me a silk pickaxe and gave me layouts of a nearby reef.
When I needed coral for my aquarium, a friend lent me a silk pickaxe and gave me layouts of a nearby reef.

I will end with a story that happened to me recently in Minecraft. With multiple people on a shared server, a lot can happen when you’re offline. In my case, it was a lightning storm that burned down my house. When I returned, the entire roof was gone, the upper floor had a hole in it, and the ground floor was a crater. I sent a message to the team, asking anyone if they knew what happened – they didn’t, but they saw the wreckage and just assumed I was remodeling.

My roof! I used that one!
My roof! I used that one!

I was pretty devastated. The house took me hours, even with people donating materials and helping with the terraces. I don’t want to build it again. I was considering asking people to help me rebuild, or start over, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in style – but then I realized it’s really beautiful.

I spent the next few hours making my old house look like a proper ruin, covering it in grass, moss, vines and leaves; The garden went from being manicured to overgrown with trees, and became a haven for creatures (some of them tried to kill me). I did it all by myself, but it would be tedious without the parallel game – I do it to show my friends, to contribute something to the village we all live in It’s less destructive in terms of landscape and more than an aesthetic choice.

Over the next few days, everyone will visit to view and leave kind comments in Discord. It even inspires someone to do something, even though I forgot who it was and what they were inspired to do. This asynchronous gameplay feels more like any community I’ve lived in and turns what could have been a tragedy into something beautiful. And I can’t do it alone.

Mainly because the house wouldn’t catch on fire if I was alone.

So tell me: what games have you been playing in parallel lately, and how has it changed the way you play games and socialize? | Soapbox: Parallel Play Is The New Couch Co-Op, And Minecraft Is Perfect For It


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