It’s been a while since I last wrote, but there was a ruckus in the community and you know I love a good opinion piece. So, as the latest gatekeeper war in the community simmers down, the crumpled mass of words the only sign there ever was one. People have blocked and are moving on. I’ve been thinking about the article that this person wrote to sum up their original tweets. No, I won’t share the article here, I won’t mention their name, simply because I have no interest in giving that arrogant and condescending attitude more space that it deserves. Trust me it’s easy enough to find on Twitter and probably will be for days…
However, while I was streaming last night, I think he referred to those who stream d&d as fake hipster and actors, I thought about the nonsense of his points and tried to sift through the postulating arrogance to find a response.
So here are my thoughts and yes, they are just that, my opinion and take what you will from it.
The crux of his argument was that those who only watch d&d on YouTube and in streams cannot classify themselves as d&d gamers. He also went on to discuss how streamers were themselves fake hipster d&d players or actors getting paid and reading scripts. That they gave an unrealistic view of the game of d&d. Finally, that those whose only interaction with d&d is to consume these games have no valid place to talk in the community. He later, in tweets, went on to deny there was a community *looks at her 2000 strong Twitter following* oh trust me sir if you are in the right place there is most certainly a community.
Let’s break these points down shall we, well on the face of it with the d&d gamer comment I guess you could say if someone does not play a game they are not a gamer. The conversations have swung back & forth but what is the definition of a gamer? The dictionary definition is:
a person who plays video games or participates in role-playing games.
“every gamer has suffered from small-screen videos”
a person known for consistently making a strong effort, especially in sport.
“he’s a gamer, always ready to go that extra mile”
Ok so participates in the traditional sense is someone who physically participates in the playing of the game. Let me show you another view point, go check out some of the d&d streams for a moment, here try this one EncounterRP you see how the viewers participate? Did you see how the entire game we played was dependent on the way they participated? Our viewers are vital to the game we play so if they are participating in the game would that not make them gamers?
However, putting this aside for the moment I personally am not sure the term gamer is totally fit for purpose in a community that, in the digital age, has grown the way it has. This brings me to his insistence there is no such thing as ‘The Community ‘ now there was a time when this was maybe true when d&d players largely only interacted with their friends and maybe those at the local games clubs who played. Sometimes there were occasionally visit to a con where you could meet other like-minded people (sounds a bit like a community to me). Then BAM the digital age and suddenly writers and artists, producers and content creators could all collaborate. Suddenly people from all over the world could join in a community and enjoy discussing and creating this wonderful game together. Those people who loved the books and the rules but perhaps never had the confidence or chance to play could find a voice and a place. If you want to tell me there is no such thing as the d&d community I could give you 100 examples to show you that you’re wrong. But I’m going to give you 1, the Cake and Writing Desk short stories ONLY exist because of d&d these are written by those in the community born out of their love of the game and their characters. It’s drawn by those in the community, edited, produced and read by those in the community and it features works from people all over the world sharing 1 common love…d&d now that is community at its finest. There are more podcast and creators that you could ever probably listen to each of these creates and adds a voice to the community and some being discussion bases give those who never have played an understanding of the game.
Now the fake ass, hipster cool actor’s streamer comment, well unfortunately this was a comment largely aim at Critical Role. Yes, they are all actors however I know it’s confusing because that is their day job but guess what actors are normally average people with normal average likes and oh my god THEY CAN LIKE D&D TOO!! I mean Vin Diesel & Joe Manganiello are examples of this however I’d probably not go and challenge either of their d&d cred to their face if I were you… Joe after all probably has more d&d cred in his little finger than most of us will ever have.
However back to Critical Role right let’s just get it out of the way now yes, it’s a very different game to the old school game and yes, they act. While we are there oh gosh they have new players and girls!! However, some of those players have probably been playing d&d longer than many of us. This game wasn’t about a bunch of actors trying to make money out of d&d I mean considering that when the stream started 3 years ago, Geek and Sundry only had a few thousand subs & nobody was doing this I’d say it would have been a poor way for actors to make money. If this gentleman had bothered to read or research CritRole he’d know this, they are as Matt Mercer always said a bunch of ‘nerdy ass voice actors playing Dungeon and Dragon’ they are just that Nerds playing the game they love.
Yes, the game has changed it a very different beast now compared to early editions but guess what that’s ok… things change and evolve. But that doesn’t mean your fun is wrong, you want to play OSR you do that and good on you but you know what someone else can play full on RP story arc based d&d too, It’s all valid. There is an argument that ‘new players will expect a certain DM or game type thanks to Matt Mercer and Critical Role’. I mean yes that’s true to a degree, but there have ALWAYS been diverse types of players those who like to Roleplay and those who prefer to Rollplay and there are those who flit between based on in game events. Guess what EVERYONE’S d&d is valid, it is our job as a DM to establish what our game is going to be like and maybe yes; some players won’t like it and they’ll go to find a different group been there done and that it’s ok, not everyone will like your game. Ok I will agree that the hardest thing being a DM in the post Critical Role age is that most of us will never be Matt Mercer this is very true but that’s ok too and actually most players I’ve met who came to d&d via CritRole get and understand this. They’ve probably seen more games and a wider variety of play styles than you realise.
You see it’s very easy to assume that all d&d YouTube and streamers are actors because there are a few who are also actors. However, the rest of us are just idiots playing a game we love and are just hoping someone will watch. I play in two games and I DM a 3rd as well as about to guest in a 4th. One of the games is streamed 2 are not & the 4th will be on YouTube I can tell you this now; the silliness, the laughter, the ridiculousness is the same in all of them. We are not playing to the audience when we are dying with laughter that is 100% genuine. The only real difference is in my home game I don’t have chat participating.
So, my point is before you want to gatekeep understand the beast as it has become. Before you want to assume what d&d streamers are or aren’t research, watch, learn. If you don’t like what Critical Role has done to your game that’s fine you still get to have your game the way you want it nobody said you must play their game. Finally, before you want to dismiss someone’s voice in the community understand that even if their participation is only watching it or listening to the vast podcasts out their they are still valid, they are still allowed because guess what they are participating too. You can play d&d and any other ttrpg anyway you want, you can have or not have at the table anyone you want. You can even sit in the corner and grumble that there is no community and it’s not as was in your day that’s ok too… but before you try to take someone’s vaildness away try & understand where they come from. Approach it in a reasonable fashion because a conversation is not where you say your opinion is right… just because and everyone else’s is wrong, end of no further debate. There are so many ways to play d&d and as far my experience has shown me there always has been, after all d&d is a game of make believe.