Hein (fub) wrote,

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Roleplaying games as a performing art

A week ago, we started in a game of Blades in the Dark. It’s a very popular indie game, which is now in general distribution through Evil Hat. It’s been played online, streamed live on Twitch, and that’s been very popular. Of course, there are many semi-pro roleplaying streams and videos, with professional GMs and high production values.

I have played in two campaigns that were streamed on Twitch too, and it’s fun to have the chat open en to see how the viewers (the few we had) react to what’s happening. The most popular that we did was for The Sprawl, and the videos that were put on YouTube are still getting views after all these months — so there definitely is an interest in seeing people play RPGs.
But playing on Twitch is different from playing just through video-chat: you’re also performing instead of playing. That adds an extra level of stress (on top of dealing with scheduling and technical issues), and that might be the reason that neither of the two campaigns I played in ever reached a satisfactory end: they just stopped.
I’ve been playing with the same people, but not streamed live, and it’s much more relaxing, and we did finish up a whole storyline of Star Wars: Age of Rebellion of seven sessions without any problems. I think it’s just the fact that you don’t have to worry about any viewers, and you can just go off a tangent or go over some rules details or something like that — it’s much more relaxing.

I had thought to be clever, and had recorded the first session. In that way, I could use ffmpeg to separate the video feeds from the video chat of the individual players, the play area, the dice rolls etcetera, and then I could composite that into a full video layout, switching to one or the other as needed, and create a slick video for on YouTube. And of course, all distractions and tangents and pauses could simply be cut out, to leave only the game.
It’s a cool technical puzzle, but in the end I decided against doing it. Not only is it a lot of work — but I don’t really have an audience on YouTube. I mean, people could probably find the video through search and perhaps watch it, but there’s no-one waiting for the next video with bated breath. Who am I playing these games for? I’m playing them for my own enjoyment, not to make a spectacle of it.

So I’m sorry — you’ll have to do without the videos.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.

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