Backseat gaming; the act of sitting behind someone playing a game and just watching them and giving advice, is one of the things I love most about playing computer games. I love doing it and I love it when people do it to me and there’s a long, long list of games I’ve had my enjoyment of increased by the addition of a second or third party.
The oldest example that springs to mind is probably Cryo Interactive’s Dune/Bloodwych on the Amiga A500+, which my Dad used to play late at night when my Mum had gone to bed, letting me and my brother stay up late to watch him. I remember I kept a long list of all the different sietches in Dune in a notepad – such was my fascination with the sandy world on the other side of the screen. At breakfast I would get my Dad to tell me of how the adventure continued after I had finally gone to sleep and he’d fill me in as he got us ready for school like some sort of absent-minded, domesticated bard.
Duke Nukem 3D was another one I enjoyed with my brother and some friend; four of us swapping places depending on what skills were required. One for shooting, one for solving puzzles, one for something else and me, the secret finding guy. It was all very similar to how I enjoyed Serious Sam at University, my girlfriend and best friend sat on my bed behind me and laughing along as I gunned down the masses.
Unsurprisingly, Monkey Island was a big part of my backseat gaming history too. My brother would sit on the floor and watch me solve the games. Years later, in the same albeit redecorated room I’d watch him play Half-Life 2 through to Half-Life: Episode 2 even though I had finished them years before. It was part of some vague effort to recapture that earlier joy and slightly-rotted friendship.
Now, I’m doing the same thing with Mass Effect 2 and loving it. My girlfriend sits behind me as I play, loving the stories and asking questions about the fiction. I consult her on difficult quest choices and she obligingly does all the mini-games for me. It really is the best way to enjoy playing a game, in my opinion.
Also, I joined twitter – @Joethreepwood -, recorded two new gaming podcasts – one and two -, and have a nice little plan for something cool to do on bit-tech.net in the future. I also wrote a Mass Effect 2 review and did an interview with TIGA founder Jason Kingsley.