Gaming through others

Several years ago, my older brother recommended Metal Gear Solid to me. Unable to get me to dive into the game, he tried a different approach. He asked me to do whatever else I was currently claiming to need to do, and watch as he played through it a second time. He never had to ask me again. When it comes to games, I want two things: a decent story with it lying in the fantasy genre. I found a new way to experience games outside the vein I normally played by watching as my brother went through them. Instead of taking even turns on our PlayStation 2, my turn would be given to him so that he could make it to the next point in the story. It’s one of the few things that we have ever done, or ever do, together.

It’s gotten to the point where I have a love/hate situation with our arrangement. He’s introduced me to Clock Tower, to Resident Evil, to Kingdom Hearts, to Silent Hill, and Mass Effect. Silent Hill in particular is one we have both fallen for. When he started playing Silent Hill 2, he decided to set the atmosphere for himself. He played alone, in the dark, at night after everyone had gone to bed. That didn’t last for very long, seeing as how he couldn’t play very long then before he was jumping out of his skin. It occurred to him at this point to ask if I wanted to come in and watch. Then he discovered that I was waiting on him for the next part of the story, and he came to realize that I wasn’t nearly as patient as he had thought.

Halfway through Silent Hill 4: The Room, he decided that he didn’t like the game well enough to continue playing it. The game gets significantly more difficult at that point, with enemies you can’t kill and your apartment becoming hostile. I understand all this. But, the story was unfinished. It could go so many different ways at that point. I still remain half-tempted to find his memory card and attempt to play the game to its conclusion myself, despite it being different than my normal type of game. When the new Silent Hill movie came out, I was the one asking him to go with me (because going to the movies by one’s self is over-rated). He finally acquired a new Silent Hill game, Downpour, at Christmas, which we have been slowly making progress through between work schedules.

There are only two games that I have ever experience through someone else, and then went on to play them. The first of which is Lord of the Rings Online. My older brother started it because he had been in love with the series when the movies first came out, though he didn’t find the same feeling again with the game. I think simply because he passed it on to me. I discovered for the first, and currently only, time ever, a group of players that were helpful, and I could get along with. Not having as much money in the gaming department as most online players, I usually don’t interact as much, simply because they’re way ahead of you because they spend the money to get there. I’d much rather spend my time getting there and enjoying the graphics on the way.

The second of these games was The Sims. My mom played the Sims games from the very beginning. I would watch her, simply because I was not allowed to touch her computer at that point. Yes, I am one of those people that enjoys playing the Sims games. In my defense, I played for the sake of building them up, not for trying to see how to have the largest family possible in the shortest amount of time, as I had a friend tell me about her attempts. Apparently I ruined the game for my mother, making it too complicated. She still got Sims Medieval when it came out, which is the only one I still play occasionally. I don’t care for most aspects anymore, but I do for the quests and the different routes you can take.

I don’t know anyone else who can stand to watch someone else play a game, and not be the one playing. It’s a skill I had to develop, and I’m glad I did so. I’m afraid my range of gaming is not as wide as it should be. But even still, I’ve gotten to watch as Heather first saw Robbie the Rabbit (my favorite character of the series, though they messed up his charm and appearance in the movie), and as Sheppard fought the Reapers. There are so many games with great stories out there, and it helps me have new things in common with others.

13 thoughts on “Gaming through others”

  1. I used to enjoy watching people play, before I started playing games. Now I’d much rather play myself. Occassionally, though, I like to watch others play, and I have gotten into some games I would never play because I watched someone else do it. I would have never heard of or bought “Evolution Worlds” if a friend didn’t show it to me, and I may never have gotten “Sonic Adventure 2: Battle”, either. Actually, when it comes to that “Sonic” game, I had a great time watching my friend play that. We watched the game and the cut scenes together, and some surpising stuff happened towards the end, and it was fun watching with someone else there.

  2. I found that it’s always fun to have someone watching you while playing a story driven game. I only like to watch others play if it is a game I have never played. For example, watching my friend play KH2 (A game I had already beaten) was slightly painful because I had already experienced what he was just discovering.

    Great post!

    1. I usually don’t like being watched because I have a hard time getting into a game with others around. And I agree, playing a game you’ve done already isn’t very fun. The reason I don’t like it, though, is because I don’t want it to spoil my next playthrough. It’s like watching a movie too many times.

  3. For me, it really depends on the game and the gamer. Some people (like me) don’t like being watched when playing games. Others (like my husband) don’t mind it so much. I’ve watching him play tons of games — and he likes different games than I — without wanting to play them myself. There were a few exceptions, of course. I probably would have never gotten into Mass Effect, Uncharted, Portal, or Dishonored if I hadn’t watched him play them first. On the other hand, he can keep most sports games and shooters. I find them much more fun to watch than play. In many cases, I can talk about Skate or Call of Duty with others even though I’ve never touched them. Watching games is indeed a great way to find common ground with other gamers.

    1. I used to like being watched while I played, but now I don’t really. It distracts me from the game, and I play terribly when others are around. But, it can be fun to watch others. There are certainly games I don’t want to play that can be fun to watch.

  4. There are too many games I want to play and not enough time to play them; to me the perfect solution is watching other people play (while I play something else on my portable console). It doesn’t necessarily work for every game, but I feel that I get about as much out of playing games like Persona 4 or Final Fantasy 13/-2 by watching them than playing them myself (especially having played other games in the series).

    1. That’s kind of what I did for the newer “Kingdom Hearts” on the 3DS. I can’t afford to keep buying new handhelds every time they make a new one (I prefer consoles anyway), so I just watched a bunch of the game on Youtube. It helped reduce my craving to splurge on a 3DS just for that one game. It saved me a lot of money.

  5. I have a fondness for watching others play games that developed during my college days. A group of my friends shared an apartment that had a huge loft that served as a bedroom on the top floor. In this room, we set up one large television, accompanied by several smaller TV sets on various shelves in the room. The purpose was to have a dedicated screen for each console, so we could all hang out and play different games at the same time.

    At any point during my breaks between classes, I could come over to their place and kill some time watching my friends play through a game. This would allow me time to just relax and eat some food, all while enjoying my favorite pastime. I have so many happy memories of chowing down on tasty Chinese take-out and watching my friends play Resident Evil 4 and GTA: San Andreas. It never really bothered me that I was not the one playing, as long as I could sit with my loved ones and geek out about video games.

    1. That would be a great way to get your gaming fix if you don’t really have time to play. I’ve been getting a “Kingdom Hearts” fix by watching videos of the game (not quite the same as watching with the actual person in the room playing it, but still), which is tiding me over until the next time I have the PS2 plugged in so I can play it again for real.

  6. I’ve always been a bit split when comes to watching games and being watched. I can’t stand being watched when playing a game through for the first time, that’s my time to get into a game and the mere presence of another person kind of spoils that for me. After that though, I prefer having other people around, that way you get to talk about whats happening with the game and have a new kind of fun with it

    1. I usually prefer not having people watch me at any time, but that’s true, the first time really is not a time to have others around. The game is the most interesting, and the story is the most mysterious the first time through. I need to be alone for that stuff to get the most out of it.

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