Bonus Episode 84

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Ikoma
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Bonus Episode 84

Postby Ikoma » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:53 pm

Just finished this episode... and I have thoughts.

I get the frustration. Critical Role has assumed the position of 2 ton gorilla in both D&D AND RPGs. Obviously, it's not the only example of D&D via YouTube, Twitch, podcasting, etc. But it is the biggest and most well known. It is so big (and so are a few of it's nearest variations) that they are starting to influence D&D itself. PCs, NPCs, custom monsters, classes, etc. are starting to make their way into the core game.

Dan is correct, D&D =/= RPG. And Critical Role =/= D&D much less RPG as a total. But it is so big and has such a huge cultural impact you have to deal with it. I imagine this is how some of our foreign friends feel about the US some times. I had a friend from Canada say being the US's neighbor was like living with an elephant. The elephant might not want to hurt you but every time it turned around, you knew about it. Critical Role and D&D are the elephant in the gaming room at the moment.

And Chad is correct, this is a good thing. “Over half of the new people who started playing Fifth Edition [the game’s most recent update, launched in 2014] got into D&D through watching people play online,” says Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons. That is a HUGE explosion in the hobby in general and to even D&D in specific. D&D IS a bigger piece of the RPG pie - at the moment - than it has been at any time in the last 20 years, maybe more.

All that said, it can get a little confusing trying to sort through what is going on IF you've been in the hobby for decades and are not really following the sudden streaming explosion. I don't watch Critical Role (but my kids do). I do watch some other streaming games (Deborah Woll's game for example.) So I would like to add a few details to help inform any interested parties.

One, a LOT of the celebrity factor comes from one of two sources. Some celebrities played D&D when they were kids. D&D has always been the biggest slice of the RPG pie so it should come as now surprise that most actors, writers, etc. who played RPGs as youths played D&D. Side note, also not surprise that such a creative hobby appealed to people who want to plays roles and get paid for it (actors), write and get paid for it, create spectacle (effects) and get paid for it. And since celebrity seeks limelight, this cultural resurgence of D&D feeds perfectly together in a synergistic way. These famous people get to do something they love AND get more fame/attention for it. What's not to love? THEN these former players get to introduce their current friends (also primed to enjoy this kind of creative hobby) and you get a feedback loop on a feedback loop. Charlie Cox did not play any RPGs as a kid. Instead, he was introduced to them as an adult by his friend and co-worker, Deborah Woll. MOST of the famous people who appeared in Woll's YouTube streaming game for Geek 'n' Sundry were newcomers to the roleplaying world.

Two, there are lots of examples, even among these famous, big name games, of non-D&D games. There are homebrew, Star Trek, Vampire, and horror games I can think of off the top of my head. I am SURE there are more. 5e is NOT the only ruleset being used by these games. And many of the players, GMs in these games (even Matt Mercer) HAVE talked about other games being a thing... even an important thing. But those nuances and differences get lost in the communications with a big broader audience who just doesn't know better. This is why Chad is SO right (in this case, not always ;-) ). As frustrating as it is, we have got to put a smile on our face and explain, patiently and repeated, that RPG means way more than D&D. And we also have to accept that for some people, that will never be the case. Either they personally love D&D so much that it is the only RPG (no wrong fun even if I would get bored with that), or they were never really a potential recruit (not everything has to be for everyone and if that is true than there are people who will just never really get into RPGs and that's ok too).

To a degree, Martin Scorsese is making a similar argument to Dan's. Movies are more than just Marvel (or Disney if you want to go even bigger). There are people who only go see Disney movies. And that's ok. Doesn't mean I cannot enjoy non-Disney movies AND enjoy Disney movies. Doesn't mean I cannot patiently and repeatedly try to introduce people to other great filmmakers, styles, genres, etc. Same thing applies to D&D and RPGs.
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Lord Foul
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Lord Foul » Tue Dec 17, 2019 1:54 pm

You know, whether intended or not, the subtext I'm getting from this (not having heard the episode yet) is that the FtB crowd are STILL HATING ON D&D.

Jeez, guys, get over it! :roll:

Do you really want that kind of a reputation? :eh:
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby VaMinion » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Lord Foul wrote:You know, whether intended or not, the subtext I'm getting from this (not having heard the episode yet) is that the FtBRPG crowd are STILL HATING ON D&D.


Fixed that for you. In the shadow of Critical Role hating DND is increasingly how you signal you are a True Gamer. Although that's way more prominent in places like reddit.

But Dan wasn't talking about hating D&D because it's D&D. It's hating that D&D is so synonymous with tabletop RPGs that the default assumption is that someone who plays TTRPGs must play DND with all of the baggage that implies. I get that. It's no different than when I tell someone I work in cybersecurity and they automatically assume I'm a super-hacker who'll steal their credit card and brainwash their dog. It's hilariously wrong, but it's a lot less funny the 50th time you hear it.
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Lord Foul » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:30 pm

VaMinion wrote: In the shadow of Critical Role hating DND is increasingly how you signal you are a True Gamer.

No. Just no. That really doesn't give the signal you think it does. The signal it does give is very different.
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Wayne » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:35 pm

Ikoma wrote:
To a degree, Martin Scorsese is making a similar argument to Dan's. Movies are more than just Marvel (or Disney if you want to go even bigger). There are people who only go see Disney movies. And that's ok. Doesn't mean I cannot enjoy non-Disney movies AND enjoy Disney movies. Doesn't mean I cannot patiently and repeatedly try to introduce people to other great filmmakers, styles, genres, etc. Same thing applies to D&D and RPGs.


Oh his argument is FAR more elitist and dismissive than that. Scorsese makes movies I don't want to watch so I don't exactly hold his opinion in high regard, but the things he has said dismissing Marvel movies I find to be the worst kind of elitism.


So here is my personal examination of why Twitch and things like Critical Role are not for me. Not that there is anything wrong with them but just my personal long self analyzing take on it.

I don't get watching streams even though I listen to actual plays. I treat them like audio fiction or as a way to learn rules. I don't watch things live and generally feel like the end product is better if it has gone though cleanup and presentation steps. Streaming really seems to have brought back the culture of appointment viewing that I did not expect to ever see return. I do understand one aspect of streaming community though. Interacting directly with the content and having it respond brings people in and makes them feel more a part of it. It also is a shared experience. You were there with the other viewers talking about it and taking part as it happened.

I consume MASSIVE amounts of audio. Both books, podcasts, and training material. I do most of my listening in the car, walking around stores, exercising, and at other times where my eyes are required elsewhere. Even if I were not moving I am not interested in staring at peoples faces and never have been. It does not add anything to the experience for me and actually takes away from the images playing in my head if something is being described.

If the video were animated it might be different for me. Something like The Gamers movies where the story is partially acted out in costume for example is fun. Watching miniatures, tokens, or framed faces for me is not. If the video is not showing me how to do something or telling the story in it's own right I just don't need that video. I also find watching other people playing games where they are not directly adding to the story incredibly boring. Boardgames or video games fall into this category. I can't say that I don't get following something for the personality because obviously that is a big aspect of podcasts. It can also be a modern extension of the concept of director commentary where you are being provided insight by someone who has an informed perspective that you do not on a topic.

I am a multi-tasker at heart and I consume most things in audio form so I can be working on other things at the same time. Adding a visual component means it requires both my eyes and ears. I am an anime fan that doesn't watch subbed often because it means I can't glance away from the screen and be doing other things. I can read and listen and successfully process both data streams separately at the same time if they are not overly complex topics. In most cases though when watching media I am glancing back and forth between that and a screen where I am actively working on something as well. I pause each when needed. I cannot multitask when I can't look away from the TV screen because I am reading the dialog. If I am just passively consuming entertainment while at home I feel like I am wasting valuable time. Driving to the theater for a movie makes it less passive and removes the ability to be doing other things so I don't have that same feeling.
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Wayne » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:50 pm

Lord Foul wrote:You know, whether intended or not, the subtext I'm getting from this (not having heard the episode yet) is that the FtB crowd are STILL HATING ON D&D.

Jeez, guys, get over it! :roll:

Do you really want that kind of a reputation? :eh:



Just to be clear outside of any context I LOVE 5th Edition and wish I could play it far more often. Dan and Chad also like 5th edition though I hate to ever speak for anyone else. I liked Pathfinder as well and acknowledge the feel differences between the two rule sets and why someone might even want to play both because you are getting something different out of each game.

Unfortunately in the RPG community there is a strong superiority complex that a very vocal minority of indie gamers have where D&D is seen as a game you outgrow. This is not really a unique thing though as that vocal minority exists in any industry that has an indie scene to it. Movies, Comics, Music, and games all immediately come to mind for having this and I personally find it to be a toxic force to growing any hobby.

This topic was more a case of telling people that you play role-playing games and them replying oh you play D&D. It would be like me saying I like Science Fiction and someone saying oh you like Star Trek without ever having the context that Star Trek is just a property that is part of a larger genre that is Science Fiction. Yes I like Star Trek but I also like Asimov, Bradberry, Sigler, and all these other authors\properties. Then they reply with but those are all just types of Star Trek. It does eventually sometimes lead to a negative connotation to something you actually like at times when everything is distilled down to that one thing. Star Trek isn't even that simple. I am a fan of Next Gen and Enterprise. I like some Deep Space Nine and Original Series. I hate discovery and the Abrams movies. That is just for Star Trek itself and not even getting into the other Science Fiction I mentioned.

That was the topic Dan was going for. Reducing an entire hobby to one title is limiting and it isn't intentional for those outside of the hobby many really believe that it is just one game. How nuanced that turned out or how well it was presented is up to each individual listener to judge.
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Wayne » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:55 pm

VaMinion wrote: It's no different than when I tell someone I work in cybersecurity and they automatically assume I'm a super-hacker who'll steal their credit card and brainwash their dog. It's hilariously wrong, but it's a lot less funny the 50th time you hear it.


I wonder how much Mr Robot has impacted the public's views of our industry. It is incredibly accurate with techniques, tools, and even name drops some of the big names in the industry. It also brings in power complexes, heavy drug use, and completely ignores the aspects of cyber-security that the viewer would find boring. Of course I am also only on season one and not all the way through it. I'm hoping they drop the heavy drug focus because it is a serious detractor for me.
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Lord Foul
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Lord Foul » Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:14 pm

Wayne wrote:
Lord Foul wrote:You know, whether intended or not, the subtext I'm getting from this (not having heard the episode yet) is that the FtB crowd are STILL HATING ON D&D.

Jeez, guys, get over it! :roll:

Do you really want that kind of a reputation? :eh:

Just to be clear outside of any context I LOVE 5th Edition and wish I could play it far more often. Dan and Chad also like 5th edition though I hate to ever speak for anyone else. I liked Pathfinder as well and acknowledge the feel differences between the two rule sets and why someone might even want to play both because you are getting something different out of each game.

Unfortunately in the RPG community there is a strong superiority complex that a very vocal minority of indie gamers have where D&D is seen as a game you outgrow. This is not really a unique thing though as that vocal minority exists in any industry that has an indie scene to it. Movies, Comics, Music, and games all immediately come to mind for having this and I personally find it to be a toxic force to growing any hobby.

Thanks for that clarification, Wayne. As I said, I haven't listened to the episode yet and was jumping to (perhaps unfair) conclusions based on the earlier post. I'm relieved to hear first hand that I was mistaken.

Incidentally, while I was considering the kind of elitism you describe, I coined a nice new portmanteau word.

Gamer Hipster = Gimpster

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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby Azhrei Vep » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:58 pm

As someone who only in the last couple of months learned that Critical Roll even existed, and that only because ... four? ish? people were cranky about them playing a game made by Wendy's, this episode was kind of baffling. Is it really that big a deal?
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Re: Bonus Episode 84

Postby clintmemo » Wed Dec 18, 2019 6:19 am

Wayne wrote:
Unfortunately in the RPG community there is a strong superiority complex that a very vocal minority of indie gamers have where D&D is seen as a game you outgrow.


That's been going on for a loooooong time. 5E popularity is just making it more common.
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