Posted in Contexts of Games and Play (Academic), Quiet Stories

Bloodborne The TV Series

No, Bloodborne is not being adapted into a TV series like Netflix’s Castlevania. If that is what you thought from the title, I’m sorry to mislead you.

This is a piece that dives into the nuances of how we consume video games. Let me explain. Bloodborne has been lorded by the major gaming populace as one of the best games of the generation. It takes the wildly successful gameplay of the Souls Series, speeds it up, and coats it in a gothic lovecraftian setting. Artistically it is mesmerizing, and the massive amount of praise it received after launch peaked my interest.

However this game was made by From Software, the same developer behind the Dark Souls trilogy and Demon Souls. The only previous game of theirs that I’ve played is Demon Souls. Much like Bloodborne, the games aesthetic and creature design drew me in, yet after completing my first boss, I had no intention of continuing. Demon Souls is incredibly difficult, grueling you might say. As I’ve mentioned in various other pieces I’ve written, that is not my cup of tea. I work hard during the day, often juggling a large amount of stress. I allow myself 2 hours at night to unwind and play games. A frustratingly stressful experience, where I make very little progress in that two hours, is not an enjoyable way to end my night. Maybe I’d brute force my way through and ‘get gud’ if I had the amount of free time I did in high school, but I don’t have that kind of luxury anymore. With the limited amount of time I have, I want an enjoyable experience with noticeable progression, not more work.

So I never got around to playing Bloodborne, which saddened me, because I wanted to experience the world and story of the game desperately. Strangely enough, I one day stumbled across a new IGN series called, Prepare to Try. After I probed further I found that it was a Dark Souls Let’s Play series by IGN’s UK team. The premise, can a noob beat Dark Souls. I’m not very fond of Let’s Plays. I don’t personally understand the enjoyment others find from watching someone else play a game you could be playing yourself. I also hate the entire culture of YouTubers and Streamers screaming over the top of video games as an attempt at ‘comedy.’

However since I had some free time, I decided to give it a go. Nothing could have prepared me for how addicted I became to this series. I don’t watch much television, so I’d never really understood the ‘Netflix binge’ culture, until now. I binged every episode in the series, then waited with agitation, refreshing the YouTube homepage frantically, looking for the next episode. I watched all 25 episodes of the series, each episode ranging from 20 minutes to over an hour. There wasn’t the fake over the top enthusiasm I had expected from this type of content. Instead I found three mates, slogging through a difficult game, with a lot of banter and support along the way. I finished Dark Souls, through them. To most people completing Dark Souls is a badge of honor, a sign that they are a ‘true’ gamer. To me Dark Souls was a comedic YouTube drama that I watched over several months.

The entire culture of consuming video games has changed so much. You don’t just play games, or play with games with friends anymore. I know people who play every game that releases. I know people who only play DOTA 2 or Call of Duty. I know people who don’t play games at all, but watch every single video YouTubers like Pewdiepie and Sovietwomble release.

Not only was I able to experience Dark Souls through YouTube, but also other games that I don’t have access to. I wasn’t able to get Pump It!Chill Out or Slave of God to run on my computer. These were two games that were highly recommended to me. However I was easily able to find full gameplay run throughs online. Without YouTube I would never have been able to experience these unique pieces of art.

We live in a strange time for games culture. You can fully experience games you don’t have the money or skills to play yourself, through YouTube. Content creators can acquire audiences that range in the tens of millions, just by playing games. Video games are even being recognized as sports. Innuendo Studios breaks down how Evo (a competitive video game tournament) made him fall in love with Super Smash Bros.  The video Innuendo Studios created (which I highly recommend checking out) equates competitive gaming to sports. If you don’t play a sport, it’s hard to find watching it entertaining. That’s a notion I agree with.

I played basketball and represented my school in athletics when I was younger, but as I got older focused more on my artistic side. My brother on the other hand has been playing rugby since he was 10. He still plays, and watches professional rugby games more religiously than any show. He enjoys playing the game, so also enjoys watching people better than himself play the game, and that’s the draw of Evo. You might play the game casually, but then by watching high level play, like Innuendo Studios did, you might find yourself inspired to get better. You watch an Evo match, you practice playing the game yourself, and then you watch another Evo match. It’s an endless cycle that leaves you wanting to discuss your game (or sport) of choice non-stop.

The way we consume games is continuously becoming more and more accommodating. Prepare to Try eventually got around to playing through the entirety of Bloodborne, and I finally got to experience the game my way. Bloodborne was one of the funniest TV shows I’ve watched in a long time.

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