I wouldn’t call myself a Gamer, not because I don’t like games but because I’m too poor to afford the technology I need to play most of them. However, I do have (just) enough technology to watch youtube and it seems that’s all you need to be part of the gaming community these days. So I watch games as you can watch most films, streaming them, which is not as sad as it sounds and, surprisingly, more people do it than you would think. Of course, different people watch games for different reasons. Some people watch them for the commentary of whichever host’s ego is big enough to try and capitalize on such a thing, some people watch the speed runs for the glitches or “e-sport” tournaments for their competitive nature which for many younger people has become bigger than regular sports, and some people just watch them for a good story. I fit into the latter category, having enjoyed Bioshock Infinite and Spec Ops – The Line again recently.
With how much gaming has evolved over the last few years, I’m not going to let being poor get in the way of the new innovative story-telling that can only be portrayed in gaming. But I have to make clear that there are a few qualifiers to make this enjoyable for the watcher. First of all, considering their lengths, some games are going to have bits that are just going to be background noise and therefore doing something else while watching them is a good way to go. With this in mind, a good OST can really go a long way and good voice acting for the characters is crucial. Even a narration like in the game Bastion will do the trick but without anything other than musical prompts for a watcher to pay attention when a scene becomes story-relevant, like older Final Fantasies, the voice acting can really suck you back into the story in way that gives a film-like experience. Especially in newer games, a lot of the voice actors do an amazing job at playing their characters.
It can also depend on the game type itself what will make games good to watch, it’s helpful to remember that not all games are spectator friendly. Obviously candy-crunch, shoot-em up, rhythm or other puzzle games or MMORPGS aren’t going to make for a fascinating watch but anything from an RPG to a first person or even third person shooter can portray great stories from the different perspectives. What film nowadays shows the story from a first person perspective with alternative paths and endings depending on what path the player will choose? I can’t think of any. Another element that can vary from person to person is graphics, as I’ve noticed that the only remedy for bad graphics in watching games is nostalgia so I won’t recommend anything below Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill 2.
On this note, I’d be interested to know other reasons people watch games. Is it for story, speed runs, competition or just nostalgia? What games would you recommend that would be good to watch?