Welcome to Postgame, Sidequest’s monthly Patreon-exclusive podcast, where the editors lay down hot takes on cold games. We’ll be posting short excerpts from the podcast to the site as we release new episodes—if they grab you, consider tossing us a couple bucks a month to hear the full episodes!
In this episode, we talk about some of the ways we play games socially—not, you know, using multiplayer modes, but rather how we turn single-player or asynchronous games into co-op and community-oriented experiences in games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Outer Wilds, and Blaseball.
Zora: I’m going to make a horrible reference, and I need you to understand that it’s a horrible reference before I say it.
Zora: And the reason that I’m able to make this reference is because at my place of work before we moved offices, they had book quotes on the pillars that were supporting the ceiling. These giant white square pillars that enabled the open office structure to be open. They had book quotes on them. And one of them was from Sword Art Online. And it said, “There’s nothing more boring than watching somebody else play a video game.”
Zora: Which offended me personally.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s a wild—
Zora: But Naseem—
Naseem: That’s very incorrect.
Zora: Naseem, please tell me your feelings on this quote.
Naseem: I am deeply offended by this quote! Half of the games that I claim I’ve played, I’ve actually just watched somebody else play. So, like, how dare you attack me? Like Dragon Quest XI. I didn’t play that game. But I sure as hell sat next to Gabe who played it for, you know, 100 hours. And I’m very attached to Sylvando! And how dare you say, that me watching this is boring. Because I have feelings.
Melissa: There are a good number of games that I don’t want to play, but that I adore watching. And that, most notably, is every single From Software game. I detest playing them. I do not have fun. But oh my god, I love watching them. They’re so fun to watch.
Zora: I actually feel that way about BioWare, I think. I don’t enjoy playing them. They—oh my god, it’s miserable to play those games. It’s bad, it feels bad. For Mass Effect specifically for me, I hate to shoot. I hate to shoot in a video game.
Naseem: Oh, well—
Zora: I truly detest to shoot.
Naseem: Oh dear.
Zora: But my friend really wanted me to play Mass Effect. And so I just made him play it. And I just went and hung out with him after school every day while I was in high school, and also my dad was living in a different state. It was a situation. My senior year was a whole thing. But I would go over to his house and we would play Mass Effect for like six or seven hours.
Naseem: Oh my gosh.
Zora: And I would just narrate and, and watch as he navigated the shooting galleries way better than I could and also sometimes worse than I could, but with a level of joy that I would never have achieved. And it was like—it served a dual purpose, because now I’ve consumed Mass Effect 1. We never got through Mass Effect 2 because I think we got distracted or I graduated or something.
Naseem: Go figure.
Zora: I don’t know. But it means that I’ve consumed Mass Effect now.
Zora: Where I wouldn’t have otherwise. And it also means that I got to spend time with this person who I very much enjoy spending time with and so now we share that history. And that’s incredibly valuable to me. Thanks very much, Sword Art Online.
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Theme music is Bass Thee by Alexander Nakarada, used under Creative Commons 0.
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.