No one wants to watch you play a game. At least not the whole way through. Streams and Twitch might be growing in popularity for people who are looking to take in a quick preview or watch a speed run of a classic, but it’s going to be hard to convince a friend to sit down and watch you marathon Halo 4. Many people have someone in their life–be it a friend, significant other, or family member–who, try as you might, just can’t get into video games. You might feel like this leaves you in an either/or situation, either you hang out with that person or you play games. That isn’t always the case. Here is a handful of games that you can play and your friends can enjoy without ever picking up a controller or touching a keyboard.
Here’s the secret about eSports: They are sports, but with an “e”. eSports can be as interesting as football, basketball, or baseball, you just need to learn the rules. It’s not hard to find proof, people tune to watch professionals play everything from Street Fighter to The International. As long as you are willing to explain the rules of the game to your company, it’s plenty easy to pick a rooting interest and enjoy Dota from a spectator role. Maybe they won’t be able to stick out the entire tournament with you, but with short match length sitting through a round or two can actually be more fun than certain sports. *Cough* Golf *Cough*
Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings is not the most obvious choice in the list of games to watch, but it isn’t a bad pick. Instead of regulating your audience to a passive role, you can let them help you come up with strategies or decide you next move. The difference between video games and any other form of media that video games turns their audience into an active participant, and while plenty of games are packed with breathless action, strategy games give you a second to sit and discuss your plan. Two heads are better than one and with unforgiving games like Crusader Kings, it can be nice to have a second brain to bounce ideas off of.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Are you a fraidy cat, like me? Do you get about an hour into the latest horror game, then things get too real and you exit out of the game, deleting the desktop icon so you will never click it by accident? Me too. While not everyone can turn off the lights, put on some headphones, and wet themselves in the privacy of their own home, playing horror games with a friend can be equally as fun. Whether you are passing the controller back and forth, or simply need emotional support, having someone to jump when you jump or scream when you scream can be reassuring. If the game you’re playing is scary enough, not unlike the Dark Descent, your couchmate will avoid being bored by being scared out of their wits.
Mirror’s Edge is a game that is all about the thrill of the chase, leaving little time to be bored. Racing Faith through a series of acrobatic challenges, all breathlessly captured from a first-person perspective is a high-tension experience that can be as awesome to watch as it is to play. Having someone by your side to spot hard-to-see ledges and hidden secrets doesn’t hurt either.
The Uncharted Trilogy
You could also insert The Last of Us here as well. Naughty Dog’s games are fun, and well told adventures, whether you play them or simply watch them, they are long, interactive movies. The combat sequences might be a little dull, but the platforming sections and ancient puzzles are perfect spots to let a passive audience help you out. The games exotic locales, gorgeous cutscenes, and intriguing story are perfect for you and a friend to enjoy.
Arcade games are a blast to watch. Sure, it can be fun to toss the controller back and forth on these games, but to see someone with serious skills shoot and dodge their way through hordes of enemies with lightning quick reflexes is fun all on its own. These games are usually simple enough that even the most novice video game player will be able to at least give them game a shot in between your epic high-score runs.
Puzzle games are great to play with someone by your side, often times you need a second pair of eyes when you get stuck. Portal 2 is an even better game to play with a controller-less companion because of the game’s sharply written dialogue that will keep you laughing through the entire experience. The characters of GlaDOS and Wheatley are absolute treasures and their comedy is always best when shared.
Not hard to figure this one out. All David Cage games are pretty great to play with someone sitting next to you, as they mostly forgo traditional level design and focus on interactive storytelling. Having someone next to you picking, or at least suggesting your next lines and actions feels natural when playing a game like this. There’s something a little more singular about Heavy Rain compared to the last two titles, but it still offers a natural fit for a second player without a controller.
Mass Effect Trilogy
Mass Effect offers some of the most dynamic and interesting choices in all of games, and implements your choices in a narrative fashion that most other games could not accomplish. There are large sections of combat where a second party might grow disinterested, but allowing someone to make the choices for you gives the game a fresh and unpredictable flavor, especially if you have already beaten the game. From picking romance options to determining the fate of an entire species, sharing Mass Effect with someone who doesn’t play games is a great journey to take with a friend.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead–you could probably lump The Wolf Among Us in here as well–is a game that feels like it was designed to be played with someone. Taking in the pieces of a well-written narrative, complete with small point-and-click puzzles, then blended with fast-paced action sequences, there is hardly a minute to be bored in these games whether you have the controller or not. Playing The Walking Dead together is like watching a great TV show with friends, while perfectly enjoyable alone, the shocking reveals and nerve-wrecking cliffhangers are better when you have someone to share the moments with. Find a friend and play The Walking Dead with them, you’ll find it’s easily the best way to play these games.
What are games that you enjoy playing with someone watching? Are there games you play that you find a friend enjoys joining you for? Or maybe you have a game you like to watch yourself. Let us know your favorites.