Humanoid worm-monsters that change size while wrestling for the possession of a ball in a sort of Greco-Roman arena; angry jelly babies with puffy buddies that fight against each other in dangerous industrial landscapes; and muscular cats that strike poses at each other with grace and courage, are some of the innovative multiplayer games that indie game developers have been making and playing in recent years. Weird, fun, and sometimes also ridiculous, these games have become one of the central attractions offered at local indie game community gatherings. Besides being valued by its aesthetics and humor, these games turn out to be very important for supporting social exchanges and contentedness.
By bringing multiplayer games back to a public space indie game designers have been able to support interactions and communication exchanges that generate a vibrant social environment. Playing together supports community building. It provides shared experiences that community enjoys as a whole in a more participatory way. Even though during the gameplay all the participants are not involved in the action, everybody feels welcome to laugh, observe, and talk.
Local multiplayer games remind us about the social nature of games as well as of their comedic potential. Although comedy was for many years ignored by videogame developers, the multiplayer format has opened a new frontier for exploring laugh and humor in the game medium. Experimental gameplay, exaggerated world physics, grotesque characters, absurd plots, and lots of movement and dance are some of the characteristics of the local multiplayer games. In order to spread the word about these games, and encourage their play I have made a list of the games I have been able to play during the past year, particularly during my participation at the Juegos Rancheros events in Austin, TX.