Over Half Of New D&D Players Got Into Game From Watching Online Play
  • Over Half Of New D&D Players Got Into Game From Watching Online Play


    The Verge talks about D&D, live streaming, and the current popularity of tabletop roleplaying. Livestreaming is a big thing these days; it used to be a video game phenomenon, but tabletop gaming now has a massive presence.






    • D&D's most profitable year ever was 2016, and 2017 may surpass it.
    • “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.
    • A year ago, WotC has two shows on Twitch; now it has 20.
    • Critical Role has more than 5 million views on YouTube.


    The article contains much more. Well worth checking out.
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    Comments 146 Comments
    1. Li Shenron's Avatar
      Li Shenron -
      I know this is really a small issue if any at all, but yet I find it mildly disturbing that so many people watch others play D&D instead of playing it themselves... it's kind of similar to the rise of "eSports" and their possible inclusion even in the olympics. And also my kids are starting to watch people play Minecraft on youtube instead of playing it themselves! It's ok to watch occasionally to get some inspiration, but if it's more often than the real thing then it raises some questions...
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Says Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons.

      From, "The rise of D&D liveplay is changing how fans approach roleplaying," an article that explains how live streaming is boosting D&D. The link is...
      https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/16/...reaming-gaming
      cause the link button in posting is failing me for some reason...

      We forumites will soon be replaced by the streamers it seems D:

      Got this from a retweet of Mearls...
    1. Sorcerers Apprentice's Avatar
      Sorcerers Apprentice -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      I know this is really a small issue if any at all, but yet I find it mildly disturbing that so many people watch others play D&D instead of playing it themselves... it's kind of similar to the rise of "eSports" and their possible inclusion even in the olympics. And also my kids are starting to watch people play Minecraft on youtube instead of playing it themselves! It's ok to watch occasionally to get some inspiration, but if it's more often than the real thing then it raises some questions...
      And most people who watch sports never play themselves. This is hardly a new phenomenon, humans have always enjoyed watching experts perform activities with a high level of skill.
    1. Li Shenron's Avatar
      Li Shenron -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sorcerers Apprentice View Post
      And most people who watch sports never play themselves. This is hardly a new phenomenon, humans have always enjoyed watching experts perform activities with a high level of skill.
      I was expecting a comment on sports, but the difference is that most people cannot play sports* because they don't have the fitness to last longer than a few minutes.

      *at least those sports who are normally broadcast

      It's ok to watch an "expert" like a cook, an artist or an artisan at work.

      But when talking about games it's quite different. Games are created to entertain people who play. In the past there have been some crossing into entertaining those who watch, for example chess and poker (mostly watched by other players who wanted to learn to get better), but tabletops, RPG and videogames hadn't crossed that line yet. Maybe some are watching them too to learn to get better, but this is already a bit controversial: getting better to what purpose? If you plan on competing then there's a purpose (even win money). And maybe that could really be the point why it worries me, that people are looking to turn simple genuine fun into yet another competition, as if we didn't already have enough of that. I guess there is still sleep to be non-competitive, so far at least. And the second reason for being disturbing is that it kind of feels like a huge "giving up" when you are spending more time watching someone else doing something fun than doing it yourself.
    1. Fanaelialae's Avatar
      Fanaelialae -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      I know this is really a small issue if any at all, but yet I find it mildly disturbing that so many people watch others play D&D instead of playing it themselves... it's kind of similar to the rise of "eSports" and their possible inclusion even in the olympics. And also my kids are starting to watch people play Minecraft on youtube instead of playing it themselves! It's ok to watch occasionally to get some inspiration, but if it's more often than the real thing then it raises some questions...
      For a lot of people it's a gateway. I've had quite a few people ask me if they could watch a game before playing, because they feel intimidated. Frankly, while I think my games are a lot of fun to play, I don't think they'd be nearly as interesting to watch. In the past I recommended that they sit down with us and play a session. Now I recommend to them watching Critical Role. This way they can get comfortable with the concepts, while watching professional entertainers. I almost got my brother-in-law playing this way (well, technically he won't be my brother-in-law until later today) but there was a last minute scheduling snafu with the game. I made the same suggestion to a co worker who was interested in watching a game. I think it's a good way to increase comfort level and familiarity for those who've never played an rpg before.

      I like to listen to recorded streams while I work. It keeps the fun loving part of my brain occupied so I'm not constantly getting distracted by thinking about game while trying to get work done.
    1. Schmoe's Avatar
      Schmoe -
      That is awesome! There will always be a place for forumites, but it's amazing to see this fantastic hobby spreading in a positive way. Thanks for posting this!
    1. Stalker0 -
      It makes sense to me. In a way it’s how I got in the hobby long ago. I watched my friends play, then took the plunge.

      I think once people see it and realize it’s not devil worshipping craziness but people acting and having fun, the rest tends to itself
    1. OB1's Avatar
      OB1 -
      Fantastic news for the growth of our hobby!
    1. Mr. Wilson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      I was expecting a comment on sports, but the difference is that most people cannot play sports* because they don't have the fitness to last longer than a few minutes.

      *at least those sports who are normally broadcast

      It's ok to watch an "expert" like a cook, an artist or an artisan at work.

      But when talking about games it's quite different. Games are created to entertain people who play. In the past there have been some crossing into entertaining those who watch, for example chess and poker (mostly watched by other players who wanted to learn to get better), but tabletops, RPG and videogames hadn't crossed that line yet. Maybe some are watching them too to learn to get better, but this is already a bit controversial: getting better to what purpose? If you plan on competing then there's a purpose (even win money). And maybe that could really be the point why it worries me, that people are looking to turn simple genuine fun into yet another competition, as if we didn't already have enough of that. I guess there is still sleep to be non-competitive, so far at least. And the second reason for being disturbing is that it kind of feels like a huge "giving up" when you are spending more time watching someone else doing something fun than doing it yourself.
      I like to watch people play games for a variety of reasons.

      One, to learn from them. For instance, I have almost a thousand hours on EU IV. I thought I was pretty decent at it. Then I started watching people like DDRJake (before he went to Paradox), Arumba, and Florryworry and quickly realized how much I could learn from them. In the Civ series, I watched MadDjinn to get better. When I raided hardcore in WoW, I watched the highest end players of my class to see how they reacted to certain situations.

      Two, I enjoy their presentation of the game. If I found the host engaging, I'm more likely to watch them. I've cut out most of my TV watching (pretty much only the news and sports are left) and have replaced it with Twitch/Youtube watching. Generally speaking, I'm happier. Although I do have to catch up on Rebels.

      Three, and this is specifically about RPGs, I enjoy watching others take part in hobbies that I also enjoy. I like to see what they do and imagine how I would run such a scenario or if there is a NPC or quest item I could steal to make my games better. Most of the time I have these games on at work like a podcast. I've listened to hundreds (probably closer to a thousands) of hours of gameplay. I've learned things that make me a better DM and a better player. I'd say it's worth it.

      You don't have to watch and I respect anyone who doesn't or doesn't have the time to watch. But I really like Twitch and recommend it to everyone to at least try and see if it would be something they like.
    1. Imaculata's Avatar
      Imaculata -
      I think live streaming helps a lot in removing the stigma surrounding D&D, and show people just how much fun it can be. I think it helps to get people interested, who would otherwise not even bother.
    1. DaveDash's Avatar
      DaveDash -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Wilson View Post
      I like to watch people play games for a variety of reasons.

      One, to learn from them. For instance, I have almost a thousand hours on EU IV. I thought I was pretty decent at it. Then I started watching people like DDRJake (before he went to Paradox), Arumba, and Florryworry and quickly realized how much I could learn from them. In the Civ series, I watched MadDjinn to get better. When I raided hardcore in WoW, I watched the highest end players of my class to see how they reacted to certain situations.

      Two, I enjoy their presentation of the game. If I found the host engaging, I'm more likely to watch them. I've cut out most of my TV watching (pretty much only the news and sports are left) and have replaced it with Twitch/Youtube watching. Generally speaking, I'm happier. Although I do have to catch up on Rebels.

      Three, and this is specifically about RPGs, I enjoy watching others take part in hobbies that I also enjoy. I like to see what they do and imagine how I would run such a scenario or if there is a NPC or quest item I could steal to make my games better. Most of the time I have these games on at work like a podcast. I've listened to hundreds (probably closer to a thousands) of hours of gameplay. I've learned things that make me a better DM and a better player. I'd say it's worth it.

      You don't have to watch and I respect anyone who doesn't or doesn't have the time to watch. But I really like Twitch and recommend it to everyone to at least try and see if it would be something they like.
      This also describes my entertainment habits these days to a T.

      I love playing D&D, but I can only do that once a week. I can watch masterful DMs like Chris Perkins run his campaigns (the ones I also plan on running) almost any time anywhere though - which is both entertaining and educational.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Definitely an interesting change. The gateway used to be word of mouth - somebody at school might come across a copy of a game and persuade their friends to join in.its good that there are more avenues of player acquisition these days.
    1. Rhineglade's Avatar
      Rhineglade -
      That just really makes me so happy. And we are not alone
    1. Warmaster Horus's Avatar
      Warmaster Horus -
      The first time I heard of D&D it was being broadcast on Cable Access TV on a Saturday night. I've been playing ever since and that was nearly 40 years ago.
    1. Mallus's Avatar
      Mallus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      It's ok to watch occasionally to get some inspiration, but if it's more often than the real thing then it raises some questions...
      It certainly does raise some questions. Why are these kids on my lawn? Why don't they get of?!

      I just started dipping my toes, so to speak, in D&D livestreams/plays. The 2nd season of Force Grey is pretty entertaining. I understand Matt Mercer's earlier series is better, but at 3-4 hours per episode it's a little inaccessible - like 91 or so Tarkovsky films. I'm curious about it, though. World enough and time...

      What strikes me after my brief exposures to watch online play is how similar it is to the game show of my youth; appealing casual entertainment. You could plunk the the Force Grey crew into the Hollywood Squares and no one would bat an eye.

      Which makes me pine for the non-existent footage of Charles Nelson Riley playing D&D back in the 1970s.

      Also, playing any form of live D&D takes a significant time commitment. Watching a video can happen anytime, anywhere (there's a signal), for as long or short as you like.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      "Why are you watching someone playing a game instead of doing the work of playing the game yourself?" is the 21st century equivalent to things like "Why are you watching that television show instead of doing the work of visualizing the story in your head as you listen to this radio program?", or "Why you are you listening someone tell you this story on the radio instead of doing the work of imaging the story in your head as you read a book?"

      Unless you (general you) think that your life and the lives of others of your generation sucks and you made horrible, horrible mistakes... you survived and have become happy citizens doing things that your parents thought were going to be a downfall of society too. And the same is going to be said of our children.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      I know this is really a small issue if any at all, but yet I find it mildly disturbing that so many people watch others play D&D instead of playing it themselves...
      Just backing up, I disagree with your premise. Why is it an "instead"? Where is the evidence that they don't do both?

      In fact, the article gives a lot of evidence that that is exactly what is happening - they are watching and playing:

      D&D had its most profitable year ever in 2016, and is on track to surpass it in 2017.

      “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.

      It’s also common for gamers who get hooked on these series to begin broadcasting RPG campaigns of their own.

      By comparison, there’s a certain punk-rock accessibility to liveplay. It’s like that old apocryphal story that everyone who bought the first Velvet Underground album started a band of their own; people watch these shows and think, “I could do that.”
      Of course, without full surveys and what not, there's no hard numbers that we know. But what little we have says that they are not watching instead of playing, they are doing both - and more are playing because of the watching.

      My kids are big into watching people play video games online as well, because they are entertained by the people who make the videos. But they also still play those games as well and even learn about new games to try that way. I think the evidence is actually that it's more common for people to do both - and even more people playing because of those videos.
    1. amuller33's Avatar
      amuller33 -
      Southpark dedicated an entire episode to people watch video gamers. I don't get it I'm 46 so I'm from the older generation... but My kids love watching these videos. I let them, but I always encourage them to try it themselves. To me thats the key, sure I watch professional Sports and Cooking shows . But I play them when i can and I try new recipes all the time. Inspiring and education VS replacing one's gratification and enjoyment. Its NOT a fine line IMHO, but to each their own

      ehh what ken said.. People .. well my kids.. do both
    1. cmad1977's Avatar
      cmad1977 -
      Wait a minute. This can’t be true. I was told 5e was failing and would die on the vine. I heard it in many threads by the same 2 people right here on these very boards!!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
      I know this is really a small issue if any at all, but yet I find it mildly disturbing that so many people watch others play D&D instead of playing it themselves... it's kind of similar to the rise of "eSports" and their possible inclusion even in the olympics. And also my kids are starting to watch people play Minecraft on youtube instead of playing it themselves! It's ok to watch occasionally to get some inspiration, but if it's more often than the real thing then it raises some questions...
      Time to either adapt... or embrace the grumpy old man within!
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