Watching on the Other Side of the Screen
It wasn’t until I got into high school that video games began to develop intricate and interesting storylines. Sure, the “old school” titles of yore did have general plots guiding the action of the games, but they did not have the in-depth tales of the titles that came out in the late 90s. When one of my friends got their hands on Metal Gear Solid one summer, me and small group of my chums would go over to his house to watch him play it. No, we didn’t get to play. However, we did get to sit and watch the convoluted storyline of the game unfold as Snake struggled with every twist the plot set before him. It was incredible, almost as if our friend was a master storyteller unraveling a tale of suspense for our eager imaginations.
And then we grew up, and some of us changed, and others did not.
Some of my friends went off to college and left games behind and took up other hobbies like hiking or weekend binge partying. Some of my other friends became full-fledged gamers, diving head-long into the college gaming scene and becoming a part of the multiplayer revolution that would evolve LAN parties into online battle fests. Still others, much like myself, held onto the controller lightly, not allowing for it to consume my academic and social life, but never really giving up my love for games. Eventually, Youtube came into existence, and I believe that was when the gaming spectator was born.
Another Type of Gamer
It is important to note that the term “gamer” is a highly coveted term that many hold with rather high esteem. To be considered a gamer, one must not only play games but do so with such tact and skill that others notice their prowess. That is, of course, the traditional idea of a gamer. I submit to you that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, and are not just those who don the controller with a Midas touch. Some are professionals who make a living off of playing video games, while others use it as a momentary escape from their rather hectic lives. These are all gamers.
There is another gamer who is often neglected in being mentioning among social circles. He or she may rarely pick up a controller, but they are true fans of the craft and invest greatly into it. They feed the industry through buying plenty of merchandise, and even collecting pieces from their favorite franchises. They watch others play their favorite games and dive into the tales that the storytellers weave. These are the spectators, and they are just as much gamers as any Twitch streamer, speedrunner, and weekend raider.
The Art Critics of the Gaming World
Gaming spectators are a different bunch of people. In reality, each has their reasons for not wanting to pick up a controller. Some do not wish to spend the money on the systems themselves but still want to enjoy the gameplay. There are others who like to watch the responses of the players versus playing the games themselves. Still, others see games as a form of art. As such, they immerse themselves in the intricate world that the developers have created. This is the type of spectator that I am, and I believe it is the type that sees aspects of games that others do not.
Take the game Red Dead Redemption II. If there was ever a game that spectators could fall in love with, it is this one. The journey or Arthur Morgan is one of both savagery and compassion, bloodshed and redemption, hatred and freedom. Each nuanced detail of the landscape screams existential life into the story itself. It almost creates an emotional vacuum that one can get sucked into. In the midst of gunning down their opponents, many players miss the intricate detail of the fear that washes over the bandits’ faces before they draw their last breath. This game is an artistic masterpiece, and it is the spectator that sees it all.
Players can see these things too, but the spectators make it the central focus of their time. They want to see every part of the beauty of the product, and that is why they watch others; they want to soak it in, along with being entertained by the reactions of the player. Every slip and mistake followed by a choice word only heightens the experience. For the spectator, game playing is truly a human exercise.
Are You A Spectator…You Are Not Alone
If you rather watch people play video games than play them yourself, you are not alone. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Thousands, if not millions of people all around the world love to do just that, and now is the best time to start spectating. Twitch is as popular as it is because of gaming spectators like yourself. The internets is full of long plays of the greatest games to ever be released. They are yours for the watching. ESports even presents an opportunity for spectators to align themselves with a team!
Do not think that you are any less of a gamer because you like to watch. You are a gamer; a spectator who sees games for the works of art that they are. Be proud of your place among the gaming community, it would not be the same without you.