Five Games that Are More Fun to Watch than Play

This has been a post long-brewing with a former roommate of mine, but I finally sat down and rounded out a list we’d been discussing for a while.

When playing certain games, my friend noticed that he was having a lot of fun just simply…watching. Thinking back, I remembered something similar happening with a few titles over the years, as I went over to friend’s houses and saw them play single player without me. Sometimes it was boring, but for a few titles? It was actually blast to watch, and I actually had more fun before I took the controller.

These five games I’ve found are either a lot or a little bit more fun to play when watching. Feel free to disagree or add your own.

1. God of War

Hear me out. God of War is fun to play. There’s nothing like jamming on four buttons at once, telling yourself you’re doing actual purposeful combos as you butcher legions of mythological creatures. But the problem is that the game is actually a touch more fun to watch than play. Why?

It’s easy, quicktime events. The game is full of them, and almost ever large enemy or boss encounter will be chock full of those moments where you have to press X in half a second to properly disembowel a minotaur, lest you get gored on its horns.

These events are stressful to the player, who is constantly searching the screen for the next button he must press immediately or risk death, and he cannot focus on the glorious carnage that’s actually being performed as a result of his actions. A viewer, on the other hand, can experience every visceral detail of these events with mouth open, not worrying about the next button press.

2. Starcraft

This one was too easy to cite, and it’s the only selection I’ll be making based on “eSports” criteria. Yes, professional Starcraft is watched the world over by millions of fans, and there’s a reason for that. If you know what the hell is going on, the game is pretty damn exciting.

In fact, it’s a prime example of a game that’s more fun to watch than actually play yourself. Playing SC for many results in “ladder anxiety” that stems from a fear to make wrong decisions in a game, lose said game, and then be trash talked after said game. While it’s fun to win, the stress of losing (and losing a lot) often can take a lot of the fun out of playing.

But watching? Weekend long tournaments go by in a breeze if you’re watching pro players you’re familiar with, competing at skill levels you couldn’t even dream about reaching. I’ve caught myself more than a few times throwing my arms up in the air during a particularly fantastic moment, something I rarely do while watching actual sporting events.

3. Grand Theft Auto

Perhaps this is one exclusive to me, but at least back when Grand Theft Auto III came out when I was a kid (errr, tween?), I always enjoyed watching my friends try to outrun the cops or gun down gang members.

There was just something nice about not having to concern yourself with mission objectives or imminent arrest or death. You just got to sit there and watch your friend unleash pure destruction as you sat and laugh at each cop car hitting a tree or pedestrian hitting their windshield.

Watching Grand Theft Auto is like an endless Michael Bay movie with all the inane dialogue stripped away and replaced by drive-bys in ice cream trucks.