Gaming can seem, at first glance, like a somewhat solitary hobby. You sit at your computer for hours on end, running around in a virtual world, sometimes with other players, but often on your own. It’s easy to see how gaming could be a solo activity, but for most of us in the gaming community, we know that more often than not, a game is much more enjoyable when it is shared among friends.
My introduction to gaming came from peering over the shoulders of friends as they played their favorite games. It’s an interesting and often quite different experience than learning by playing the game yourself. Peer over my shoulder here, and let’s see what makes learning gaming culture by watching an experienced gamer such an interesting option for getting into gaming.
When I first started to really get into gaming, I was a little hesitant to play because I wanted to know what I was doing before I actually started to do it. Instead of jumping in on my own, I decided to start out by watching my best friend, a truly avid gamer, play his favorite games. It is a testament to his good nature that he was patient with me as I asked all sorts of questions while he played. When I started playing myself, he was so willing to jump in and help ease my nervousness when fighting a particularly scary boss or working on a complicated quest.
Eventually, I became comfortable enough to play on my own, but without those hours of watching him play and pestering him with questions to feel comfortable with the games, I would have entered into gaming as a very timid and unsure player. The time that I was able to spend watching over his shoulder as he played, particularly in WoW, helped me move forward to being a confident solo player. Don’t get me wrong; even though I am now comfortable playing on my own, it hasn’t changed the fact that I love to sit and watch other people play, laughing at their humor, learning from their mistakes, and increasing my involvement in gaming through friendship and connectivity.
In the current climate, with social distancing ruling our lives, this type of over-the-shoulder gaming has taken on a new role of importance in the lives of gamers and friends. With services like Twitch and Discord providing ways for friends to play and share time together, over-the-shoulder gaming isn’t just about sitting huddled around a computer anymore. In the world of streaming and sites that let you play with friends, the experience of watching friends play video games and getting into gaming because of that experience can be created over the internet with friends, popular streamers, and everyone in-between.
However you like to watch over the shoulder of your fellow gamers, be it in-person or online, there’s no doubt about it: it is an incredibly fulfilling way to interact with gaming. Whether you’re new to gaming and you want to get comfortable with gaming skills and culture before you start playing or you’re an experienced player who just enjoys watching gameplay sometimes, this type of over-the-shoulder gaming holds a very special spot in the long list of ways to be a gamer.