How to play long video games when you have no time


Who can be considered a gamer? Depending on who you ask, it might mean enjoying a certain type of genre or owning special hardware. Recent pushes for inclusivity widen the label further lớn encompass anyone who plays anything, whether that’s Candy Crush or Gọi of Duty. But what if both of these modes of thinking are out of touch with how the world consumes games in 2019?

In 2018, YouTube viewers watched over 50 billion hours of gaming nội dung on the platform, with 48% of viewers reporting that they spend more time watching than they vì chưng playing. Twitch, the leading live sầu streaming service on the mạng internet, was reportedly watched around 9 billion hours last year. If you’re watching a game, it follows that you’re not actively playing something at the same time, at least not usually. Many YouTube and Twitch viewers will go on to enjoy games on their own time, of course, but increasingly, there’s a growing section of fanatics who participate in the culture without ever picking up a controller.

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The reasons, based on conversations I’ve sầu had with dozens of people, vary widely. Perhaps the most comtháng thing people cite is a lachồng of time. Games are becoming more and more demanding with each passing year, with mainstream titles often clocking in at dozens upon dozens of hours before completion. Anecdotally, many people I know are still working their way through games from 2018 and 2017, lượt thích Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, because the worlds are so expansive — và continue to lớn get bigger with each new update or DLC.

“Games as service,” the biggest trover within the space, is all about time commitment. Games like Destiny 2 and Fallout 76 reward players for logging in daily, in addition to holding limited-time events that are only available during certain time frames. Games are becoming work, và work takes time và energy.

Image: Bungie via
Joaquin, a đoạn phim game tín đồ who used lớn play things lượt thích Counter-Strike, says that his Clip game habits changed dramatically once he got a job.

“I had money to lớn buy games và consoles but I didn’t have sầu time,” Joaquin told “Or at least, time I needed to lớn invest on gaming,” he continued.

For others, watching video games instead of playing them is a matter of mastery. Gretchen, a devout livestream viewer, says that she considers herself a competitive sầu game thủ.

“I want khổng lồ always be winning, và be good at the game,” she said. After college, she stopped having as much không tính tiền time as she did growing up. But instead of giving up the hobby outright, Gretchen started watching high-level Counter-Strike instead.

“Watching someone play means that I don’t have to lớn invest my own time ‘getting good’ at the game,” she said. “I’d rather see someone else who’s good at the game vị it.” She estimates that she watches around five hours of livestreams a day, which may sound lượt thích a notable investment, until you consider how much easier it is to fit in a livestream than actual playtime. You can watch games while you bởi a chore, lượt thích laundry. Or you can cruise the web while listening to a stream in the background. Some people even use Twitch khổng lồ fall asleep, with broadcasts acting like a modern lullabies.

For Zelda tín đồ Melinch, watching instead of playing was how they were introduced into lớn the hobby in the first place.

Image: Nintenvị
“I was one of those kids who got into lớn games by going over someone else’s house & playing their on their consoles,” they said. Melinh recalls watching over their cousin’s shoulder growing up, and that cousin was apparently much better at games than they were.

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“He’d carry me through all the levels & I was too proud lớn want to lớn continue playing lượt thích that,” they said.

Now that Melinch is older, time has also become a more precious resource — và they know that many good games can become a big timesink. Transitioning to watching rather than playing felt natural.

“I think a lot of the appeal that I find in games is the capathành phố khổng lồ just get really, really into lớn a piece of media for a period of time that’s lasts longer than, say, how long it would take me to read a book or watch a movie,” they said.

“I worry that if I’m actively playing a game, it’ll be too easy khổng lồ ignore my responsibilities, lượt thích my graduate work.” Watching instead of playing allows them lớn enjoy the hobby while, say, eating dinner “without feeling lượt thích I was going lớn be super distracted for a long time.”

In my experience, whenever I tell people that I write about đoạn phim games for a living, a good 60 percent of them will respond with the same thing: Oh, I love đoạn Clip games, but I can’t play them. I get too sucked in!

In Melinh’s case, it helps that consoles have built-in features that allow you to enjoy games a little more passively. They love using the PS4’s SharePlay khổng lồ keep up with friends over long distances. The pal will work their way through a title while Melinc watches, or goes about their day.

Image: Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive sầu Entertainment
“We’ve sầu kept each other updated on our lives & given each other advice & tư vấn while she played through The Witcher, Horizon Zero Dawn, và the Dishonored games,” they said.

Another comtháng thread ahy vọng players I spoke to was a lack of money or access. Video game consoles cost hundreds of dollars, & triple-A video clip games often cost $60. Subscriptions khổng lồ online services vary in costs, but add to the overall pricetag — never mind accessories, like controllers. While cell phones have opened up the floor for more types of players, those also typically cost several hundreds of dollars.

“Sadly, money’s tight most of the time now,” said Twitter user schreiraupeee. “But hey, at least you can show support for your favorite who do play them.”

Younger kids who don’t have nearly as much spending money as an adult tend to enjoy games more freely on platforms like YouTube. In this case, titles like Minecraft or Grvà Theft Auto V can function less as open-world games & more as Saturday morning cartoons. In some ways, video clip games are more expansive sầu than anything you could see on TV: characters from all sorts different properties can be modded in, or any structure can be built by the đoạn phim game players. Things lượt thích budget, actors, & locales aren’t really a concern. Spider-Man can hang out with Elsa from Frozen and Elmo from Sesame Street, và it’s no big deal.

Spider-Man stands in front of Elsa from Frozen in GTA V Image: Take Two / Rockstar via Game Offline
YouTube & Twitch also make certain genres more palatable. It’s common, for example, for people lớn watch horror games on those platforms, but never actually play the genre because it’s too scary.

For some, watching but not playing video clip games isn’t a question of time or resources — but rather a concern over stigma. Viktor, a tín đồ of Slay the Spire, says that people around hyên ổn tkết thúc khổng lồ judge his love sầu of đoạn phim games.

“Most of my immediate family reacts very negatively when I play myself,” he said. For whatever reason, his family seems fine with his fandom if he’s only watching, so that’s how he explores his interests.

Much of the gatekeeping around đoạn phim games revolves around mastery — can you vị this? Do you know this? But curiously, many of the viewers I spoke to lớn could talk cửa hàng about their favorite games, despite never actually booting them up. Some seem to know their games of choice better than people who actually play them every day, because their fandom revolves entirely around knowledge.

Many of the viewers I spoke to could talk shop about their favorite games, despite never actually booting them up

This phenomenon of video game fans in the periphery isn’t limited khổng lồ viewers. Thanks lớn games like Overwatch và Fire Emblem, which have sầu expansive rosters & lively cartoon worlds, video game fandom also encompasses things lượt thích tín đồ artists and cosplay aficionados. Often, when new characters are announced for a đoạn phim game, it’s comtháng for developers to lớn release character guides to lớn help people know how to lớn draw or dress up as them. You also can’t go to lớn a đoạn phim game convention without being surrounded by folks in video clip game costumes. A not insignificant number of these folks don’t necessarily play the games they rep — they just lượt thích the character thiết kế, or the art style. But their enthusiasm is just as valid as those who play The Division 2 every day. We’re all operating under the same ecosystem.

Perhaps this progression of video clip game fandom was inevitable. I still remember being a kid, not a nickle lớn my name, dutifully checking out the magazine racks in my library. Nintenvì Power, trò chơi Pro, EGM — I read all of them, cover lớn cover, fantasizing about games I’d never get lớn play. Then I’d go home page & argue about video games on forums with other kids who probably didn’t own everything that sparked a flame war.

YouTube và Twitch weren’t a thing bachồng then, but if they were, I have a feeling I probably would have sầu been obsessed with these platforms, too.