Adrenaline Rush: Fear, Excitement, and the Thrills of Online Multiplayer

Let’s talk sports for a second, eSports. Who doesn’t like a tightly contested game with just seconds left on the clock? Down two with your worst player handling the ball, what do you do? Time is ticking. Your best player is ice-cold and couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat in the Pacific. You take a dribble to your right and run into a double team.

Timeout. Recollection. New game plan.

Sharp shooters come off the bench and into the game – five seconds on the clock. Ball is inbounded to your “frozen” star player. You get it out of his hands, take two dribbles left, and a three-pointer is launched.

You may not realize it, but for that one second of basketball floating through the air, there is an emotional connection shared between competitors. Complete dismay. Breathing is halted and everything is left up to chance; in or out someone becomes victorious and the other slumps in defeat. You can taste both sides of the same coin and have to wonder if you did everything right to make sure that ball would fall in the hoop. Just like your opponent doing everything he/she could to make sure that ball wouldn’t fall in the basket. And following the buzzer? Pure ecstasy for one player and sheer disappointment for the other. That is the beauty of competitive online gaming.

Couldn’t relate? Let’s try another angle. You’re playing search and destroy in Call of Duty and you are not having your best game (real low on the scoreboard). It’s you and your teammate (who has the top score in the match), up against the four remaining players protecting the bomb. Your teammate yells into the mic that they’re to the L—. Mic cuts out. Teammate no more – you’re going solo. Sprinting away you find a spot to think of a strategy: stick to the walls and pick them off as quietly as possible. Each step you take seems to have the weight of a thousand anchors attached to your boots.

Breathing becomes shallow. Enemies are no where on the map. You can feel the eyes of your teammates judging your every move as you try and clutch the round to send it into overtime. Your heartbeat skips up into your throat. You hear something. Two dots on the radar to your right. Two pops – two enemies off the map. One versus two. One bomb to destroy and two people looking to take you out before you get within 10 yards. Time is ticking. One minute left on the clock; moves are made. Running to your right you slide past a wall dodging heavy fire. The enemies have shown their position on the map. You peek around the corner and pick off a reloading hostile. One on one. The tension could be cut with a butter knife. You both get caught in each others’ crosshairs. The triggers are pulled. This is the moment that defines online gaming: one in which each player experiences the adrenaline rush of putting the team on their backs to secure a victory as a unit. Tightness, frantic excitement, and celebration.

Almost all of my favorite multiplayer memories come from the insanity that is “last minute madness” because of the emotional connection we as players put into the game. I would love to hear about your craziest, most hectic, epics on the hardwood and battlefield! It helps add fuel to the gaming fire and gets me going! Share your best highlights in the comments below, I look forward to reading them!


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