8 August 2021: How I Feel About Streaming

People have asked me how I feel about streaming roleplaying games. Specifically, what I think about shows like Critical Role, where people stream their campaigns. In truth, my opinions are mixed.

The Cons

Let’s start with the negative. My concern with streams is that they set unrealistic expectations. If you’ve never played a tabletop roleplaying game before, you might get the impression that what you’re watching is a typical game. It is not. Not all of us are professional voice actors. We’re not all photogenic. A lot of us stumble over our words. Streaming can make people feel bad about themselves, or think that their skills as a player or gamemaster aren’t up to par. Anything that could potential create a barrier to entry into this hobby gives me pause.

The Pros

On the up side, the streams I’ve seen paint the best possible picture of what tabletop roleplaying can be. It allows people to watch an actual game and get a feel for things. They can do so without having to spend money or subject themselves to weird strangers who want to tell you about their paladin. Anything that eliminates barriers to entry, and helps the hobby to grow, is aces in my book.

How I Feel About Streaming

Ultimately, it’s not for me. That’s not knocking streams at all. It’s a matter of free time and opportunity cost. There are most movies and TV shows that I want to watch, podcasts that I want to listen to, books that I want to play, games that I want to design than I will ever have the chance to get to in my lifetime.  At the moment that are other things that I’m more excited about.

I also quite literally don’t think these streams are for me. I am not their target demographic by any stretch of the imagination. You shouldn’t be offended that someone that isn’t part of the intended audience doesn’t absolutely adore streams. It’s not that I don’t get it; I absolutely do. They’re just not designed to appeal to grumpy old men with iconoclastic tendencies.