When I first started getting into watching people play video games, I thought it was a little weird. What is it about me that doesn’t want to play video games, a past time enjoyed by just about every person on Earth, but prefers to sit back and watch other people do it. Isn’t that, like, doing it wrong? Not deriving enjoyment from something scientifically designed and extensively tested to provide enjoyment?
And then I was like, well, Twitch is essentially built on the back of people watching other people playing video games and that sold for a billion dollars in 2014, so it’s obviously not that weird.
It just puts my brain in a more passive mode, like watching TV, that is satisfying to me. When I play video games, I take notes, google strategies, join the forums, and get way more into it that, for better or worse, makes it more like work than gaming. It’s like how I just read the Wikipedia for horror movies. I enjoy knowing what that weird plot/premise is, but I can’t go through the emotional turmoil of actually seeing it.
The game I’ve watched the most is StarCraft II. I’ve played the game enough to understand how it all works — which I find to be a prerequisite to enjoying watching any game. I’ve tried watching people play games I would probably like, but have never played, and it never takes. StarCraft has loads of strategy and drama, like any good sporting event, and tends to be in small enough time increments that commitment is deliciously low. My stepdad watches a lot of professional golf on TV (and plays golf) and it’s certainly less weird than that.
Anyway I’ve been watching Cracking the Cryptic lately, which I first started watching because they solve Sudoku puzzles which in a way fills those same criteria: loads of strategy, drama (in the form of reactions to incredibly difficult situations overcome), and aren’t terribly long (although an hour isn’t rare). Then, The Algoritm notified me that those same fellas played The Witness, which was too entertaining to pass up. All the comments in those videos begged them to play Baba is You, which was also fun, although I think The Witness was more fun to watch. During one of the Baba is You videos, Simon mentioned he watches two hours of professional StarCraft II a day. WHAT. I knew I liked Simon but that pushes it over the edge.