Watching AGDQ this year, as always, there were runs which were brilliant because of the skill, and runs which were brilliant because of the runners (even though the games themselves were deliberately awful).
This got me thinking about how I enjoy games nowdays, leading to this topic:
I think I can categorise games I actually care about into three classes:
A) Games I actually like playing and like watching other people play.
Two good examples here (wildly different) are X(-)COM(2) and Spelunky. They’re games which have the right kind of difficulty, pace and narrative for me to be able to enjoy them’; but they also have enough interesting variation, and enough actual in-game pace for them to be interesting to watch people play, too. Plus, most of the information you need to appreciate what’s going on as a spectator is present on the screen continuously, so you can enjoy armchair strategising.
Recently, Magic The Gathering: Arena has also been a thing here.
B) Games I like playing but are boring/frustrating to watch
I don’t know about anyone else, but whilst I can get into a game of Civ or Crusader Kings 2 or Stellaris; I find that they’re frustrating to watch people play - partly because the pace is all wrong, but I think also because these kind of strategy games have a ton of information “hidden” behind menus and secondary windows; when someone else is driving the game, you also lose agency over controlling what you can “know”, which is distressing.
(Speaking of MTG:A - part of the information loss issue is directly addressed on Twitch here with a Twitch extension which lets you actually look at cards on the table during the stream.)
C) Games I hate playing but like watching other people play.
For me, these are mostly in the ilk of the “deliberately ultra hard games with lovely art direction, music and narratives”. I’m never going to enjoy playing Shovel Knight or Celeste - but watching someone else play it means that I can appreciate all the good things about the games (everything but the rock-hard gameplay) and also see someone being really skillful.
I suspect the Souls games are somewhere here, if I ever tried playing one: I’ve seen a lot of good streams of Dark Souls and Bloodborne (this topic was inspired by yet-another-awesomely narrated/stage-managed run of the latter on this years’ AGDQ), but I am pretty sure I’d hate playing them.
I’m interested to see if other people have these categories (or other classifications), and what they put in them…