Watching From the Sidelines - Oni no Tenshi Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Watching From the Sidelines

Since I have so recently put my foot in my mouth (as far as my readers are concerned), I think it's about time for me to blog about my experiences with being a gaming spectator.  Many people are introduced to games by way of an older sibling or family member who had "the game system" and I am no different.  Growing up in a household where my parents continuously pinched pennies and treated us like we were little more than hired help, it was tough to get very much in the way of "extras," and video game systems were definitely an "extra" as far as my parents are concerned (although I obviously would have argued otherwise...).

Now back when I was growing up, the main game systems were SNES and PS1.  It wasn't until I hit my early teen years that I even had a console game in my home.  Yet, for some reason, I have always had someone who gave me an "in" to gaming on a console of some sort.

 

I still remember the lovely clicking noise it makes when you flip the power switch on....nyahhhh... :D~~

For some reason, the original PlayStation reminded me suspiciously of the Star Ship Enterprise....

Now of course, I remember at the age of 10 (much to the chagrin of my parents who kept insisting "video games are for boys"), I spent a whole 20 (which, at the time seemed like a million) dollars at a garage sale to get a Game Boy handheld complete with a bunch of games: Tetris, Operation C, Castlevania, Bart VS the Juggernauts, Mickey and Minnie's Adventure, Super Mario Land, and later on, Pokemon Red and Blue (borrowed from my next door neighbor, Spen). 

Hello again, my first love! <3

Perhaps this is why I have always been so much more drawn to handhelds for my actual day-to-day gaming needs, mainly because it wasn't something my parents policed, as they believed that if I had bought it with my own money, it was mine to do with what I pleased.  But anything that THEY got for me could be endlessly policed (ie: the N64 that they locked up and only let me play 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday, which is why it took me about 2 years to beat Ocarina Of Time on a first playthrough).

But, going back to my main point, I spent a lot of time watching other people play games as a kid (and, whenever I could, getting my console gaming fix on someone else's system).

Now, most of my friends were not what you would consider "video game nerds."  My best friend, Sara, whom I have been close friends with since the 3rd grade, had a SNES with her sister at her dad's house (her parents were  divorced).  Now of course as a kid, I thought that having divorced parents must be awesome.  As far as I was concerned, you could get double the presents and you get two different places to live (plus parents buy you all sorts of guilt gifts for supposedly "ruining your life" by divorcing).  Of course now that I am an adult, I realize that my childlike mind was simplifying some pretty icky horrible things, but at the same time, to my elementary school-sized brain all I could think was, "DANG, SARA HAS A VIDEO GAME SYSTEM!"  So when we went over to her dad's house, we'd always play Super Mario World All Stars and Bubble Bobble.  Obviously, my friend would tire of video games after about an hour but I was hooked.

"OH JUST ONE MORE!" was my catchphrase at that point.  But it did cause a lot of stress in my relationship with my best friend (and heck, I love her to pieces, because that's what best friends do), so we mostly just hung out at her mom's house (or at my house) and while video-game free, there was a lot less friction in our friendship.

Don't let Mario get between you and your best friend.  I learned that the hard way.

So that led to plan 2:  Find someone I didn't really like all THAT MUCH whose house I could play games at.  I know it's horrible, but as a kid, most people are kind of self-serving.  And besides, I ended up finding something even better-my SISTER'S FRIEND, who I could "chaperone" because my mom didn't like this girl's parents and had this weird idea that if she left my sister over there that the father would do something "bad" to her (but I guess I'm scary or something...he never did anything weird when I was around).  So my sister would go over to her house with me and we'd spend the night, with me attached to the Sega Saturn, playing games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Aladdin, and The Jungle Book.

Sega Saturn: The Linux of Video Game Consoles....

Of course, this lasted about as long as it took my sister and her friend to have their first real disagreement (something about pegasuses versus unicorns), and of course shortly after, this friend transferred to a new elementary school and we didn't really see her all that much after that.

But even between all of these little experiences of ACTUALLY PLAYING games, I spent a lot of time going over to a person's house and WATCHING them play.  In fact, most of my female friends tell me that they don't play video games very often, but they are happy to watch their male significant others play, mainly because they started out watching their brother play video games (and as you may know, siblings tend to not want to share their stuff).  To some extent, this was largely my experience as well, but since I was the oldest in my family, it invariably was someone else, like my cousin Paul, or my next door neighbor Spen, or even the older brother of one of the neighborhood girls that my mom tried to force me to play with from time to time (did I mention that I would rather play "dinosaurs" than "tea party"?  Yeah, that didn't go over well with most girls-T-Rex is apparently too scary to drink Chamomile).  In fact, to some extent, I don't think my parents would have ever gotten an N64 for my siblings and myself if they hadn't had a boy (my little brother) in the family.

For a long time, I tried to hide the fact that I liked games.  Mainly because it seemed like everyone thought it was totally normal for a girl to be content to just watch someone else play video games (of course, most parents seemed to have a pretty negative view of video gaming in the first place, so it's not exactly like my gamer guy friends were somehow considered necessarily "better" than me).

"You keep making that face, kid, and it's gonna stick that way!"

In college, I ended up spending a lot of time with some of my male friends at their apartment because I had a psycho landlord who was subletting a converted hallway to me and was obviously on some sort of drugs or something.  So I slept on the couch at their apartment a lot until I could find a less scary place to live, and that often meant watching someone playing Halo on the XBOX (this was back in the day where only the XBOX gave people free online play for Halo).  Of course, this is where I first saw someone playing Disgaea, which I immediately loved, but felt like I couldn't play because I didn't have a PS2 at the time (it didn't come out for PSP until much later).  And it was my first time watching people playing Katamari (which to this day is still one of my favorite games ever).  So to some extent, watching other gamers play games was one of the best ways to help me get accustomed to new stuff on a variety of gaming fronts, which is why I often don't mind it at all.  It also helps that most of my gamer friends are actually really good at gaming, so watching them play almost feels like watching a movie-even more so with games like LA Noire and Bioshock.

Having fun watching is a sometimes thing.

Still, from time to time, I get tired of sitting on the sidelines and want to interact with a gaming environment.  When I first saw my husband play IloMilo, I wanted to play it like nothing else.  But I felt like I was imposing and sat there, wanting to play but feeling bad for wanting to play.  I know, it's my fault for not saying anything, but still...I often prefer to watch just to keep the peace.

Besides, in real life, I'm more of a lover than a hater (although I tend to try not to come across as a hater online either......>_>).  I don't like causing strife and butthurt pouting in the people around me.  Perhaps that makes me a bad person, but if I have an alternative, I'll take it, especially if it keeps the peace.

Yeah...something like that...just call me "Former Human Typhoon".....

Anyway, so what do you think about the value of watching others play video games as a form of actual entertainment (and not just, "I'm waiting for my turn")?  Do you think that some of the more "movie-like" games such as "Heavy Rain" or even "LA Noire" as well as the Japanese Visual Novels that have become semi-popular are fun to watch someone else play without actually needing to be the one holding the controller?  Or do you think it's more of a cop-out due to apathy about gaming or just a general desire to keep the peace between yourself and the person holding the controller?

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