Editorial | 8/13/2009 at 8:35 PM

Co-Op Couples: Bridging the Gap

It started as many things do, with a conversation about the television show “Southpark.” He was sure there was no such thing as the adventure restaurant Casa Bonita. I assured him there was, and it was near enough to my home to visit. “Come out here, and I'll show you.” I said, with no other expectations in mind from my long-time friend.

One amazing trip through the Colorado mountains and adventure restaurants later, August (Arttemis) and I hit it off. You see, he is a student in Florida, and I am a student in Colorado. Though this aspect added a bit of a hitch in our newfound relationship, we aren't afraid of a challenge.

While we were in the same state, we watched films, ate out, explored the city, and played video games. Now, 2,000 miles stand between us for months at a time, but we make the best of it. While we can't take walks together, or have nice dinners we can still connect, and Xbox Live, co-op gaming and Netflix are going to make it possible. Instead of just saying "Guess what I did today," we more often say "Oh, man! Remember that time we..."

That my friends...is a lot of goo.

Through the use of Xbox party chat you can talk until you're blue in the face (or other unmentionables,) but you'll usually end up playing something while the Xbox is booted up. With this party chat, single player games can become a co-op experience if a little creativity is applied. One such conversation came from both of us playing Spider-man: Web of Shadows simultaneously.

“How do you collect those symbiote samples? I have killed a ton of these guys, and not gotten a single one!”

“I....am not sure. If you figure it out, let me know.”

“OH! You gotta pop the goo-bubble when you defeat one.”

“That's disgusting. I'm on it.”

We then happily spent an hour or so popping goo-bubbles laughing at how gross it is, collecting our symbiote samples in Spider-man: Web of Shadows. Single player game made co-op through innovation. These are the things lasting relationships are made of.

After this single-player-turned-co-op session of Spider-man: Web of Shadows on our own, we were both craving some open world action that we could really share. What luck! We then came across Crackdown: a fantastic (very affordable) co-op game in an open world with almost super-hero type qualities for the main characters.

I was the Agent with corn rows, and he was a Agent with awesome face gear. We spent our time scouting for orbs, jumping or climbing to new destinations going “woah” in a Matrix Neo voice as we jumped from rooftop to rooftop. Occasionally, we'd even complete a story mission – but, we'd often ask “why so serious?” spending more time messing around than not.

While Xbox chit-chatting, we'll often bring up games that we'd played on our own and not enjoyed via co-op, or the other hadn't played at all. We walloped Gears of War on insane, played and lost a lot of Ikaruga, and I even convinced him to try Too Human in spite of his wariness toward the controls using this chat-tactic.

"Hey buddy - watch the hands!  It's only the first date!"

The latest Xbox dashboard update has even implemented a way for the two of us to watch movies together, too. Netflix has added a party feature to their streaming movies over Xbox Live. Before, we might be able to both pick the same movie, and coordinate start and stop times – but now, Xbox does that for us. With this new Netflix system, Machine Gun Girl can be enjoyed cooperatively on the couch – even if it's not exactly the same couch.

Online co-op gaming and Netflix streaming movies let you say "it's a date!" even when an actual date isn't possible due to proximity. That being said, while we are around each other, local co-op is just as important – Ghostbusters on the Wii was a blast! Hear that developers? Yea, I said it.

Editors note: All of the current gen gaming consoles have pros and cons for connecting our games online. Xbox has the Gold fee, PS3 forces you to buy a bluetooth headset, and Wii....we won't even talk about friends codes right now.