Observing Vs. Playing: Where Do You Find Yourself?


When I watch people play games, I often want to play the game for myself. Typically, the only thing that makes me not want to play a game in that scenario is if it looks cumbersome or irritating.

That being said, there are occasions I see someone playing something and I feel I’ve had enough of the experience that I don’t need to partake.

Recently, I saw my partner play through most of a new release called Submerged. It is a beautiful, non-combative game that tasks the player with finding specific items in a flooded world to assist another character. I had been excited for the game, and when I watched him play, I was taken with the experience even though I wasn’t the one at the controls.

I saw him play the game to completion, and at the end, I felt I had had enough of the experience that I didn’t need to have it again in a hands-on capacity. I was okay with that.

But that instance is a rarity. I don’t often feel satiated in such a way that I no longer have an interest in playing a certain game for myself.

until dawn box art 02

The reason I was thinking about this today was because of another recent release, Until Dawn. Until Dawn is a choice-driven horror game where you can make it through with all eight playable characters alive, none at all, or any combination thereof. I watched Game Informer’s Test Chamber which looked at the first 40 minutes, but it in no way kept me from wanting to play it myself.

There had been an issue with people streaming and archiving the game to Twitch, and it was being blocked by Sony (the game is a PS4 exclusive). I had wondered if it meant they were worried people would no longer be interested in playing the game for themselves if they could simply watch it via Twitch. That would almost make sense to me, as the game is highly cinematic.


In a game that is so choice-driven (where your choices actually matter and have far-reaching effects), I wouldn’t think this would be a concern, as I imagine most folks would want to pick up the game for themselves to see how their own choices might reverberate through the story. But I also understand a company wanting to protect an investment.

I don’t often find myself in the position I was in while watching my partner play Submerged, but it has happened on occasion. Sometimes I just feel I’ve seen enough of a game and its story from an observation perspective that I no longer feel the need to play it myself.

My question to others is: has this happened to you? Have you seen someone else play a game and found yourself no longer wanting to play it, even if it looked wonderful? If so, which game and why? Do you watch “Let’s Play” videos? Do you find yourself wanting to play a game more or less because of them?

8 replies »

  1. I do watch some Let’s Plays (and even create my own) but mostly GI’s Super Replays. I’m generally not a fan of watching a thorough playthrough of a game I still plan to play because I still want the experience to be new when I get around to it. I do enjoy watching someone else play a game that either I’ve already decided I’m done with, or am not planning on playing, or I’m undecided on. Occasionally, while watching someone play a game that I’m not planning on picking up, the experience made me completely change my mind and go buy it. Dragon Age: Origins immediately springs to mind which is surprising, because that was always right up my alley from the beginning so I have no idea why I didn’t want to play it before watching my friend with it.

    I could see in a situation where the game is shorter in length and pretty cinematic and/or story driven that the experience could feel more… shared I guess. Like you can still be a part of the playthrough without being the one on the sticks, if that makes sense. In a scenario like that I get how I might feel satisfied enough as a spectator to no longer want to play it myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only “Let’s Plays” I watch are via Game Informer, so I’m right there with you.

      Most of the games they play are ones I wouldn’t have chosen to play, myself (though Psychonauts had been on my list before I saw Cork play it…after that, no thanks.), but if they were to choose one that I was interested in playing, I would probably avoid it until after I’d played it.

      I’ve watched so many Test Chambers for games I didn’t think I’d want to play, only to see them in action and to suddenly be into the experience.

      And yes, that does make sense. That was the situation with Submerged. I saw enough that I felt I had a grasp on the experience. That leaves me free to play gems like Goat Simulator. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, it depends. When my partner and I played Windwaker or Harry Potter together, years ago, I was quote content at letting him man the controls. He was much better at the fighting, and we had fun together figuring out the little puzzles. I didn’t mind taking the backseat at all. But when I want to play a game for myself, I don’t want to watch others playing it. I want my experience to be new and fresh!

    Liked by 2 people

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