So, a while ago I posted about how tabletop games were NOT going to be viable as a spectator sport. I was spectacularly wrong. Ahem.
So I think the thing I had not anticipated (if I may excuse myself) is that there would be elements of the game that were neither storytelling (the plot exposition) nor mechanical (the dice rolling and rules banter) that would draw in an audience. There are entertaining aspects about watching people play, not because you are getting second hand RPG, which can be somewhat dull at times, but because the people who do it right are entertainers (in some cases) and know how to have fun and bring people into that enjoyment.
But I think the more important element to it has been a means of teaching by doing. We are now seeing a new wave of people, young and old, to start to enjoy the hobby. Many have said it, and I will repeat it; the video play format of tabletop games has demystified the hobby.
And of course, this is a great thing in most respects. The general public once thought that the hobby was only for greasy basement dwelling oddballs* that can’t function in real life, to say nothing of the moral panic of the 80’s. No, we see now that people who have grown with D&D have in turn cause it to grow. There are prominent people who play, and they allow the game to flourish by showcasing the great things about it.
In other instances, these prominent people simply drop hints or unsubtle reminders that they are avid role players. In the case of Patton Oswalt, who has made a career of being a witty nerd, his love of D&D is worn on his sleeve, and it bolsters those of us who have been shuttered in the dark for deigning to love a game about dice and imagination. Others such as Vin Diesel and Stephen Colbert only serve to improve our lot, and give weight to the fact that the hobby is not the maligned geek refuge it was thought to be.
So ultimately it is a good thing. Bravo actual play people. I am happy to be wrong.
*To be fair, I did play in a basement for a while. You can’t beat the ambiance! Reports of my greasiness at the time are unsubstantiated.