What Is Mingleplayer?

Single-player, Multiplayer… Mingle-player? Inside Gaming’s Latest Trend

Over the decades, gaming has slowly evolved from teenagers playing solo in their bedrooms to more sociable online multiplayer games to a new trend called “mingleplayer”.

At last month’s Gamescom 2014 conference in Cologne, the term ‘mingleplayer’ was applied to games such as ‘Dead Island 2’ and ‘Destiny’. ‘Mingleplayer’ refers to singleplayer games, which require an internet connection so that players can join each other’s games at will.

The shoot ‘em up ‘Destiny’, which launched this week, might be thought to be a perfect example of the genre (which, broadly speaking, refers to games which blend solo gaming with online multiplayer elements).

‘Destiny’ publisher Activision aren’t keen on the term, instead preferring the phrase “shared world shooter”.

The term wasn’t actually coined for ‘Destiny’. The creators of the shoot ‘em up ‘Brink’ claim that honour, but Edge Online reports that “someone high up” at the company forbade ‘Brink’s developers from using it.

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Is single-player old news?

Single-player is clear enough: you play through a scripted ‘world’ alone, as one does in games such as ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’, where you remain offline, and can never speak to friends.

Apart from defiantly plot-driven role-playing titles such as ‘The Elder Scrolls’ series, this sort of game has fallen out of favour.

Just about every other genre, from racing games to puzzles to shoot ‘em ups, now offers gamers the choice of playing online, either with or against friends.

Many ‘Call of Duty’ gamers spurn the single-player mode altogether, preferring to battle other gamers online. The games still offer both though.

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Massively multiplayer

“Massively multiplayer” games offer a huge number of ways to play, and thousands of players to play alongside.

The defining “massively multiplayer” hit is ‘World of Warcraft’, with a huge, online fantasy world, which plays host to millions.

It offers a baffling array of ways to play together: from huge fights where up to 80 gamers battle one another, to “instances”, where gangs of between five and 25 gamers tackle huge monsters together.

Players can also opt to play large parts of the game alone, ignoring other gamers entirely.

So what actually is mingleplayer?

Basically, you can go online and play with other gamers, but unlike in most games, the action doesn’t stop if your ally logs out. Instead, the game adapts.

Some ‘mingleplayer’ games offer subtle takes on the idea. Such as the forbiddingly hard role-playing game, ‘Demon’s Souls’, where players could offer one another subtle warnings by leaving messages scratched in walls, or in the form of a ghost, showing where they died.

Destiny’s publishers might not like the term, but the way the game mixes online and offline play does seem to be a perfect example of ‘mingleplayer’.

It is single-player, but requires an internet connection. Single-player missions players can create “fireteams” to tackle bigger enemies, with the caveat that the enemies become harder to defeat the larger the group gets.

With $500 million worth of ‘Destiny’ discs having shipped so far, it marks a mass-market debut for the genre.