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Video Game Voyeurism: When You’d Rather Watch Than Play

written by Jason Marcano January 2, 2017
A Wolf Among Us Bigby watch

This all started with FIFA ’17. I’m not a huge fan of soccer, but I do watch the occasional Derby. Manchester City and Manchester United is my favorite rivalry. I know my De Geas from my Nobles, Rooney from Messi. By no means am I a savant, but I get the game of Footy.

This casual interest in soccer—also a fan of the NHL—makes me naturally drawn to their video game iterations. However, FIFA ’17 is a game I just can’t bring myself to play. I find it so much more enjoyable to just watch someone else play it. Which got me thinking; There are a lot of games I much rather watch than play, a sort of video game voyeurism if you will.

FIFA ’17

We’ll just start with the one I mentioned above. It’s not that EA‘s excellent soccer simulation is a bad game, I just can’t play it. I do love watching my friend take the sticks and having a go. It helps that he’s good at it. Even the actual sport of soccer is full of edge-of-your-seat moments and drama. Manchester United’s late game victory over Middlesbrough was a definite nail-biter. Man, I love watching soccer.

When it comes to playing the video game version of the sport, I call in a sub. Watching a person who knows what they’re doing in FIFA ’17 play can be just as intense as the actual sport. It’s a testament to how good a game EA crafted in FIFA. The arena echoes with the chants and jeers of fans. The players on the field move naturally as the ball obeys the laws of physics while being passed and shot. Tackles land with force as players fall onto the rain soaked pitch, skidding to a stop. It’s an art EA perfected long ago.

When I play FIFA, I lose track of it all. I can’t focus on the things I love about the game because I’m too concerned with the minutia. Tracking over 20 dudes scurrying around the field after a tiny white ball isn’t fun when I’m in control.

Telltale Games

A Wolf Among Us Bigby watch

Rather than single out anyone of Telltale’s masterful games I figured I’d lump them all into one category. The Walking DeadA Wolf Among Us, Sam and Max, I love them all. The stories, characters, twist, and drama combine to make a compelling game. Watching Big Bad and Snow White solve the murders of fairy tale characters is still one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

I tried to play A Wolf Among Us, I made it about halfway through episode 2 before I quit. I wanted to see the story through, but the choices and QTEs drew me out of the action. One minute I was immersed in the excellent voice acting, the next, I was forced to think about what kind of person I wanted Bigby to be.

Luckily, I had a friend who was all too willing to play the game and allow me to watch. Having someone else make all the decisions and play all the action scenes made A Wolf Among Us feel like a movie. I had the same experience with all of Telltale’s games to date.

I know this isn’t from Telltale, but Until Dawn falls into this theme as well.

The Sherlock Series

Many of you may not be all that familiar with Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes series, but it’s actually pretty good. To watch that is. Why else would it be on this list?

There are two games in this series and they play almost identically. You are Holmes, and as I’m sure you could guess, you solve crimes. Complex murders that often lead to twist conclusions. When you solve the crimes in Sherlock Holmes, you also have to decide how to punish the culprit. More often than not, it was between turn him/her into the coppers, or exonerate them and declare the crime unsolvable. Sometimes you could justify their crimes and let them go that way.

This game is truly interesting to watch people play. While some of the reasons I don’t like playing it are similar to Telltale games, the main reason is that Sherlock Holmes makes people really think. You can watch the gears turn in people heads when trying to deduce what the legitimately puzzling clues mean. You can almost figure out what kind of person they are based on what punishment they choose to exact on the criminal. Will they be sympathetic, or throw the book at them?

Do You Like to Watch?

Fifa 17 Goal Suarez watch

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and watch someone else play a game. When you do, you may see something you wouldn’t had you been playing. Often, a sort of tunnel vision happens when we play games. We focus on the objective at hand and fail to notice the details around us. Even watching games you love to play can lead to the discovery of something new. Be it a NPC that passed you by, or a whole new area you never thought to go to, watching a game be played can be just as fun as playing it. Sometimes more so.

Do any of you geeks enjoy watching games get played? Are you a video game voyeurist? Are there any games you think are awesome but just can’t bring yourself to play? Share them in the comments below!

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