I am interested in games that allow two players to play simultaneously in front of the same screen. However, I specifically do not want the screen to be split, nor to take turns.

Examples of games that do this include Wii Tennis (co-operative or antagonistic) or Mortal Kombat (antagonistic).

Is there a term to describe this same-screen multiplayer style?

  • If there are different terms for co-operative versus antagonistic, please give both.
  • Links to an Arqade tag, Wikipedia tag, http://www.co-optimus.com tag (I couldn't find one) would be helpful.
  • If different terms are used by different platforms/developers, that's ok, too.

That's called "shared screen", as the players share the screen.

You don't see this term all that often, as not only are these games not particularly common, but it's also usually not necessary to make the distinction. People will say "split-screen" if the players split the screen, and not mention it otherwise.

Here are a few examples of this term in use:


If players take turns, that's called turn-based multiplayer.

If players play at the same time, that's called simultaneous multiplayer.

If players play on one screen at the same time, there's no term for the "shared screen"ness. That's just the default way for console games.

If players play on different screens at the same, there's no term for the "separate screen"ness. That's just the default way for online games.

If players play on one screen, with a portion of it under their control, that's called split-screen.

If players compete for objectives, there's no term for that - it's the default.

If players cooperate, that's called co-op multiplayer.

Examples of "shared screen" games are New Super Mario Bros for Wii and Lego Star Wars (and technically - Mario Galaxy).

Examples of split screen games (which also support online play on different screens) are Borderlands (xbox360) and Minecraft (xbox360).

The more recent games from the Lego Series use a shared screen, that splits when the players get far enough apart.

  • 1
    "If players compete for objectives" that's called competitive multiplayer, just as "If players cooperate" that's called cooperative (co-op) multiplayer. – DCShannon Mar 3 '16 at 19:14

Without beating around the bush, offline multiplayer has been traditionally known as Local Multiplayer.

More recently this has been generalised (or specialised depending on the way you look at it ) to more informal terms such as Couch Play. Furthermore Split-Screen Multiplayer is only one particular way of implementing Local Multiplayer and therefore by definition is a sub class.

In some cases Local Multiplayer also refers to multi-user play on a LAN, but the term it self covers both offline and online multiplay.

Hope that helps.

  • I don't think it is 'traditional' to call it 'local'. Traditionally, all multiplayer was local. It was not until the internet age where online-multiplayer became the norm and 'local multiplayer' a explicit term. – Colin D Mar 3 '16 at 21:05

Based on my knowledge there is no term for this kind of multiplayermodes. Couch-Coop just means that you can coop offline with a buddy next to you without using LAN or an online-mp.

Also the number of games and of cource the genre ins very limited if you want a multiplayer, which is no turn-based or hot seat and has no splitscreen. It's only like sportgames (tennis, soccer, NHL, NBA, ...), beat'm'ups and causual games. There are only some titles that come to my mind now which doesn't fit the three genres mentioned before. This would be Dungeon Siege 3 for example. Every player needs to be inside the visible area of the screen, so you can't walk out of it.

  • could you give an example (or two :) of multiplayer casual games like this? I'll have a look at DS3 and see what people refer to it as, thanks! – david.libremone Jul 18 '12 at 10:49
  • I think every game from Pixel Junk. At least racer, shooter and eden ;). Then Games like Dungeon Hunters (PS3), Dead Nation (PS3) or Bomberman. Anyways recommandations are prohibited by the FAQ :/ – Streuner Jul 18 '12 at 10:56
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    @Streuner not in the answers or comments. – kotekzot Jul 18 '12 at 14:18
  • @kotekzot ok. Didn't know that :) – Streuner Jul 18 '12 at 14:22
  • I think Fable II had multiplayer with both players on the screen at once, not split, even when playing remotely. – DCShannon Mar 3 '16 at 19:15

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