Why I Love: playing games and watching TV at the same time

Why I love

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Samuel talks about watching TV and playing games at the same time. 

I've been getting into GTA Online's Overtime Shootout, which launched this week. It's nearly identical to Super Monkey Ball's excellent minigame Monkey Target, where you take it in turns to launch off of a ramp, hover towards a numbered target using a parachute-equipped car and try to get the highest score possible for your team with a careful landing. It's a more chilled version of GTA Online's existing competitive Overtime Rumble, and playing it has offered some of my most immediately satisfying moments of GTA yet.

It also only requires about one minute of your attention out of every ten, if you're in a full server where everyone has to take a turn. And I love that. Right now, a lot of people are playing Overtime Shootout for the reason I am: it's paying out double experience and money. 

I'm usually switched off by grinding in games, but the commitment-to-payout ratio here is decent, plus Overtime Shootout is great fun when you're actually playing. Even if you just have one shot a game, you can earn $20,000 or $10,000 at the end, regardless of the result. It's the easiest way to earn good money in GTA, at least until the end of today.

By only demanding such a small fraction of my time, GTA Online is solving another problem: a lot of the TV I enjoy doesn't require my full attention either. Some shows do—The Handmaid's Tale and The Leftovers, for example—but Netflix's Iron Fist? Well, it's a bit pants. I want to watch it before Marvel's The Defenders starts next week so I know what's going on, but I don't want to exclusively watch it. 

"I used to grind in WoW while listening to Bob Ross," my friend Matt Elliott tells me.

"I used to grind in WoW while listening to Bob Ross," my friend Matt Elliott tells me.

Overtime Shootout and Iron Fist are therefore a curious match made in heaven: one minute of parachuting in a car is followed by nine minutes of a deeply boring man fighting ninjas in a warehouse. Repeat, until bedtime. Perfect.

Unsurprisingly, I'm far from alone in enjoying TV on my second screen, and I expect more of you do this now than ever. PC Gamer's Phil Savage only survived reviewing boring MMOs like Firefall by rewatching The West Wing on his second monitor. I asked people on Twitter if they enjoyed games while watching something on a second monitor, and they explained that they do this with various games: WoW, Hearthstone, Elite Dangerous, Stardew Valley, Rimworld, Darkest Dungeon (because they'd heard all the dialogue before) and some strategy games. Anything that's repetitive by necessity seems to be a good match. 

Second screen entertainment is one of the modern ways in which we enjoy PC gaming. When games command your full attention with detailed worlds, systems and story, that's great, but it's also nice to get the most out of your precious spare time by multitasking. 

Certainly, it's all the Netflix adventures of Danny Rand deserve. 

Samuel Roberts
Former PC Gamer EIC Samuel has been writing about games since he was 18. He's a generalist, because life is surely about playing as many games as possible before you're put in the cold ground.