I’ve become fascinated by the trend of people playing Role-Play Games on YouTube, Twitch, and pretty much any other streaming service you can think of. I’ve watched several of them Critical Role, RollPlay, The Dragon Friends, Acquisitions Inc. Girls Gut’s & Glory, and Fiasconauts. They all focus on different games and group dynamics. There are funny ones, serious ones, scary ones, and exciting ones. Even the gambit of genres is impressive.
While watching these various shows I’ve started to notice a few things. There are things you definitely want to have. A good group that’s focused on the game. While you want to be able to go off on tangents and let the players run amok with their decisions you want to stay focused on the game. You can have tangents and off shoots but they should remain grounded in the game. To some extent this is on the Game Master or GM to focus. It’s okay to allow the players to get a bit weird but be able and prepared to swing the group back to the story.
You want to have a clear view of the players, a decent audio connection is recommended but not necessarily video. You can all be in one room or broadcast over Skype or Google Hangouts, just be clear. I’ve been listening to some of these groups as podcasts where you can’t see the players but can hear the things they’ve said clearly and that helps keep the images alive in my mind.
Imagery, you want a GM who can describe things, paint a picture with your words. “You ride across the dust covered wasteland. The static roar from the engine of your retooled ‘76 Charger resounds off the hastily welded armored plates. The sprayed on black paint job glistens despite the slug trails of blobbed paint from where you had to drive before it had even dried.” Sounds significantly better than, “It looks totally like Mad Max.” Of course both will conjure roughly the same image, but one is far superior in visual scope.
You want players who are slightly fearless and largely selfless. It’s okay to be nervous, afraid, skittish, or even a bit terrified that you’re going to be on the internet. However, it shouldn’t hold you back from playing. But you don’t want to be pushing your character to the front of the line at every opportunity. While D&D may be a game about gather treasure and defeating the monsters (sometimes) in a streaming situation you need to remember to let everyone step forward. Some of this falls on the GM. It’s their responsibility to reign in any player who starts to take over a bit much.
Finally, you want a game that’s focused on story and not on mechanics. Something that’s easy to do, quick to run, and fast to maintain. If a rules mistake is made you don’t want to spend time going over the rule book to see what you should be doing. It’s okay to fudge a rule here and there in the name of expedience and entertainment.
Ultimately, I think the last word of the previous paragraph was the important one, Entertainment. I know you want to be a good story and exciting time for the players, but you need to be, in some way, entertaining for the audience. This doesn’t mean, telling jokes every five minutes, or being the funniest, silliest, or most over the top. It can mean being dramatic, exciting, intriguing, and even scary at times. I think the key to this is to have players who make good characters not good character stats, and a GM who let’s those characters play. You don’t have to have an epic description of every action, or an amazing cut scene for each character, but if you let the characters be themselves and tell the story you can achieve something amazing; something entertaining.
The more I watch these, the more fascinated I become. I want to try this myself. I want to put together a game on my own, grab some friends I think will be a good fit for it, and go forward with an attempt to record one session, just to see how it works…
If I do this, what game would folks recommend I try?
What would you like to see?
What could I write well?