I read a post about the impact of Matt Colville’s ridiculously successful $2.1 MILLION dollars Kickstarter for a book and streaming channel. That there is that much money to be made in a tabletop gaming-related Kickstarter astounds me enough as it is, but that it was for an RPG book and a streaming channel (and let’s face it, it was really for the streaming channel) outright floored me. When did this become a thing?
I remember a couple years ago following the news from Gen Con and reading that Green Ronin had announced to a packed theater they would do a setting book for Critical Role. I was like, who? I had no idea what Critical Role was, let alone why it was such a big deal to so many people. Some Google searches later I was educated but confused: people were watching other people play D&D online? I mean, I knew about Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show, but this Critical Role thing didn’t feature any celebrities that I knew of. Cut to maybe two years later, and now there’s quite a few streaming D&D shows featuring actual celebrities. What?
In his post, Colville wrote about the reaction in some of the older game forums to his Kickstarter, and how people in the forums couldn’t understand the power and popularity of streaming, how there was an almost philosophical divide between the forum users and him. He said, “I’m no longer part of that world. I feel very little connection with folks in tabletop now. I realize to me, now, this hobby is something that happens at the table, but the community happens on twitch and youtube and reddit and twitter.”
The interesting part to me is that it basically describes me as well, except in relation to where the community now happens: I’m no longer part of that world. I feel very little connection with folks in tabletop now. And frankly, I find it kind of liberating.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though. I was part of the birth of a new form of gaming community back when podcasts burst onto the scene, and especially when we all started to record and release actual plays. There were some confused looks and some backlash, but these shows found their niche and prospered. I can see how these video-recorded and streaming games are the spiritual successors to the audio actual plays. And yet I am now the one with the confused look. After all, I never thought of roleplaying as a spectator sport, and yet here I am being proved wrong.
That I’m no longer part of that world isn’t news to me; I’ve been feeling this way for a couple years now. I retain some ties to the community online, most prominently on G+, but it’s more of a reading experience, not so much a participation exercise. If those places mentioned by Colville are where the community is happening right now, then yeah, I’m definitely not a part of it, nor do I have a desire to be.
I think it’s cool that tabletop gaming has gotten to the point where we are so mainstream that shows like these can happen, and if that’s your thing then awesome. Personally, I have no interest in gaming streaming or video shows, nor in joining the community at sites that I consider problematic to say the least. I’m happy being over here on my blog, interacting with my friends, reading through whatever is left of the community in the places I used to find it before, and doing my own writing and designing.