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D&D 5E What is up with the popularity of watching other D&D groups play the game?

It's the long in-character bits where I just zone out and then realize half an hour later that I have no idea what's happening.
Other people have said something similar and I just don't get it. This is what any decent drama regardless of the medium basically is: characters talking and otherwise interacting. Do people space out during dialogue in films, TV shows, books and plays too?
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The reason why people got on Matt Mercer when the character Mollymauk was killed rather early in the Season 2 campaign was because the character was a part of the LGBTQ community and thus was a representative for them in this fiction. When the character died, many folks immediately saw it as another example of the Bury Your Gays trope... wherein it always seems to be the gay, lesbian or queer character that gets killed "for the drama" because they have less "purpose" in the story than the straight ones.

Matt was sympathetic to their stance, because the trope has been in existence for decades and still crops up time and time again in modern entertainment. So he was sorry that the fans (many of whom are queer) had to experience the loss. But he also rightly pointed out that D&D is not like "regular" entertainment, and that yes, indeed, sometimes the dice fall where they may. This was a case of bad luck and the characters not yet at a level to have resurrection magic, which is why the PC actually died (instead of being raised like so many of the characters were in Season 1.)

Now if you are an old school D&D player and/or don't care or roll your eyes at the idea of the 'Bury Your Gays' trope, then I'm sure this whole thing will just make you shake your head. But rest assured that for a lot of players and fans of Critical Role (many of whom are younger than many of us), the loss of the character, the character's representation in the queer community, and Molly's relevance as a character to the current social climate of the 21st century... was all more important to them than just the "game" of Dungeons & Dragons.
 

BacchusNL

Explorer
Other people have said something similar and I just don't get it. This is what any decent drama regardless of the medium basically is: characters talking and otherwise interacting. Do people space out during dialogue in films, TV shows, books and plays too?
In those shows people don't put emphasis...on every...word...they speak. As if every....sentence...carries the weight...and timbre....of an Obama speech.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Other people have said something similar and I just don't get it. This is what any decent drama regardless of the medium basically is: characters talking and otherwise interacting. Do people space out during dialogue in films, TV shows, books and plays too?
I suspect that The Avengers would have gotten similar reactions from a lot of people if it had been two hours of watching the actors sit around a table narrating what their characters were doing instead of actually seeing it play out.
 

That's the thing though, as far as they're concerned something is happening. I can understand wanting action all the time but sometimes spending that time in the tavern is what the players actually want to do, in that instance they're having fun. Why take that away from them just to push them into action, they'll get there eventually, just let them have this moment in the tavern.
True. But I think you'd find Mercer's game is far more roleplay heavy than a typical D&D group's play. Which is understandable, as they're all actors and they're making dramatic entertainment. But people who run more typical games can be forgiven for finding Critical Role's playstyle strange and unfamiliar. I'd wager it's uncommon for a group to spend more than 5 or 10 minutes talking in-character unless it's a key dramatic scene with NPCs.

The only actual play I've followed for more than a handful of sessions is Glass Cannon. And I think the reason is that it sounds a lot closer to the actual play of my own experience (though still more dramatic and in-character).
 
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Other people have said something similar and I just don't get it. This is what any decent drama regardless of the medium basically is: characters talking and otherwise interacting. Do people space out during dialogue in films, TV shows, books and plays too?
The in-character banter between the cast of Critical Role doesn't exactly reach the level of the Crown or a David Mamet play. The dialogue in quality drama is revised, refined, and pared down, with every sentence serving a dramatic purpose. A TV writer would distill 9 minutes of Critical Role dialogue into 90 seconds of drama.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The reason why people got on Matt Mercer when the character Mollymauk was killed rather early in the Season 2 campaign was because the character was a part of the LGBTQ community and thus was a representative for them in this fiction. When the character died, many folks immediately saw it as another example of the Bury Your Gays trope... wherein it always seems to be the gay, lesbian or queer character that gets killed "for the drama" because they have less "purpose" in the story than the straight ones.

Matt was sympathetic to their stance, because the trope has been in existence for decades and still crops up time and time again in modern entertainment. So he was sorry that the fans (many of whom are queer) had to experience the loss. But he also rightly pointed out that D&D is not like "regular" entertainment, and that yes, indeed, sometimes the dice fall where they may. This was a case of bad luck and the characters not yet at a level to have resurrection magic, which is why the PC actually died (instead of being raised like so many of the characters were in Season 1.)

Now if you are an old school D&D player and/or don't care or roll your eyes at the idea of the 'Bury Your Gays' trope, then I'm sure this whole thing will just make you shake your head. But rest assured that for a lot of players and fans of Critical Role (many of whom are younger than many of us), the loss of the character, the character's representation in the queer community, and Molly's relevance as a character to the current social climate of the 21st century... was all more important to them than just the "game" of Dungeons & Dragons.

This seems to be an example of people thinking that the game is somehow scripted or pre-ordained when it's not. If you're not a gamer I suppose I can see where people are coming from, but the encounter where the PC died really did go sideways from the very beginning.

But thanks for the info, I was always a bit confused by the uproar and now it makes more sense.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
D&D voyeurism has gone through the roof, and it's a complete mystery to me. Now for perspective I'm 51 years old and have played D&D for over 40 years, almost exclusively as a DM, so it may be a generational or even an issue of my role in games, but I'm just not sure. I've tried to watch some of these different and inexplicably popular shows and it's quite difficult for me to think of a more insanely boring activity. Why are these so popular? What is entertaining about them? I can't help but feel as though I'm missing something interesting about this activity due to all the attention they have been getting. I LOVE running D&D games, but watching one being run that I'm not involved in is like watching a golf match. Fun to play, abysmal to watch (yet many do to my continued astonishment).
I'm in the middle. I think that it's fun to watch a good group, but I'm only willing to go so far to do it and I don't watch them except once in a blue moon.

A buddy and former DM of mine is one of the few lucky enough to play in many of these events. He's been in several by WotC and some of the charity events put on by Luke Gygax. Last year here in Los Angeles there was a Roll20 ticketed event that he was playing in. One of the guys in my group suggested that we go to check out how these games are live. When tickets eventually went on sale we looked at the prices and they rivaled what the Pantages theatre charged for Hamilton tickets. Both of us said, "It would be fun to go, but not for that amount of money." and just forgot about it.

The day of the event my buddy messaged me on Facebook and said that he had been given several comp tickets and wanted to know if I wanted one. I said hell yeah and got to go for free. When I got there it was pretty crowded. The popularity made a fairly big impression on me. That many people were paying those prices to see a D&D game. I'd peg it at somewhere between 1000 and 1500 people.

While waiting outside to be let into the venue location, two women walked up to the worker at the gate and asked when it would open. He told them and then asked where they were from. They said that they arrived from Colorado. That just floored me. Not only were they paying Broadway Musical ticket prices, but they traveled from Colorado to Los Angeles to see the event.

Edit: I loved the event and had a blast. Before the event started I got to talk to his current D&D group about their games and they asked me about his older campaigns. The event itself was very entertaining and fun to watch.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I tried to watch Critical Role but after an hour the PCs were still sitting around getting drunk in a pub. I really didn't get it - I would have had the pub burn down 45 minutes earlier just to get the game moving.

Same. As well, a D&D game that spends most of its session time on actual adventuring doesn't need to lack for social interaction either. It's just the social interaction happens in the context of Getting Stuff Done. My regular johns are constantly having their characters interact with each other and the NPCs/monsters while they explore and fight, playing to their traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, and developing their characters. We don't need to sit around in a tavern or shop for an hour to do this.
 

That's the thing though, as far as they're concerned something is happening. I can understand wanting action all the time but sometimes spending that time in the tavern is what the players actually want to do, in that instance they're having fun. Why take that away from them just to push them into action, they'll get there eventually, just let them have this moment in the tavern.
Of for god's sake. I've answered this same question twice now.

Honesetly, I think the way you're trying to frame this is silly and loaded.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Of for god's sake. I've answered this same question twice now.

Honesetly, I think the way you're trying to frame this is silly and loaded.
It isn't silly or loaded. It's just a different playstyle. You need action to happen and don't have fun watching others roleplay. That's okay. Find players who enjoy what you do and it's all good. He doesn't need action to happen and does have fun watching the players roleplay. That's okay, too. He can find players that enjoy what he does and it's all good.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
It isn't silly or loaded. It's just a different playstyle. You need action to happen and don't have fun watching others roleplay. That's okay. Find players who enjoy what you do and it's all good. He doesn't need action to happen and does have fun watching the players roleplay. That's okay, too. He can find players that enjoy what he does and it's all good.
Yeah, the problem arises when you mix groups with such different styles - I know that if I was really into the RP going on at the tavern, I'd be pretty pissed off if someone disrupted it because they were feeling impatient and wanted to get to the action.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Of for god's sake. I've answered this same question twice now.

Honesetly, I think the way you're trying to frame this is silly and loaded.
Sorry man, I wasn't trying to load the question as a gotcha or anything, thought we were just having a conversation. You didn't need to respond, you can always ignore me and keep scrolling. I just think our style of DMing is different and I was trying to understand why.

For me, if my players want to spend an entire session in a tavern or shopping in town, then I let them. I don't believe that action needs to be in every hour of every session, I just want my players to have fun. Sometimes that means constant action, sometimes that means they don't even need to look at their character sheets.
 

Sorry man, I wasn't trying to load the question as a gotcha or anything, thought we were just having a conversation. You didn't need to respond, you can always ignore me and keep scrolling. I just think our style of DMing is different and I was trying to understand why.

For me, if my players want to spend an entire session in a tavern or shopping in town, then I let them. I don't believe that action needs to be in every hour of every session, I just want my players to have fun. Sometimes that means constant action, sometimes that means they don't even need to look at their character sheets.
It always bemuses me that people think they can make inferences about gm style from throwaway forum posts.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
Somewhat off topic, but the popularity of livestream D&D shows reminds me of the rise of reality TV shows in the 1990s and early 2000s (I am showing my age here). The Real World on MTV, a show about seven strangers living together in a loft in NYC was the first one I remember. It debuted in 1992 when I was still in high school. Survivor in 2000 was the show which really broke reality TV to the masses. From there the genre spiraled out of control and I began to hate reality TV shows.

I think my skepticism about livestream D&D is at least partially rooted in my hate of reality TV. Maybe the Gen X in me is just too cynical to buy into what I see on screen. That said, I have watched some livestreams and even enjoyed them in small doses. The livestreams have brought a new generation to the hobby of D&D that we all love, giving it a big shot in the arm. They have also helped dispel some of the negative stereotypes around D&D -- there has not been a recurrence of the "satanic panic" which we suffered through in the 1990s. The visibility of women and nonwhite players in the livestreams has helped make D&D more inclusive.
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
HarmonQuest is perhaps the easiest to watch (if you are into the humor of Dan Harmon) because it is heavily edited, with animations, and the live action bits are shot before an audience to begin with.

Anyway, this thread reminds me of my stance on watching American Football: The most interesting part of the game (for me) happens to be the one part they absolutely cannot broadcast (for obvious reasons), the sidelines with the coaches discussing plays. As such, watching Football on the T.V. is really boring for me because all that planning time becomes pure downtime, and there simply isn't enough play time to make up for it.
 

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