Saturday, September 12, 2009

I watched a game of D&D tonight streamed live over the web...

Tonight I watched/listened in the background to a group playing D&D 4e streamed live over the Internet.  The site is  Apparently they do it every 2 weeks.  They had some sort of computerized gaming table software, and I think had some people playing remotely as well.  It was very interesting.  The players seem to be a husband and wife, with a few friends.

I have hardly played or even seen games played by people outside of a very small group of friends.  Ignoring the fact that they were playing 4e, and I have no real clue how that system operates, I was struck by the similarities between their game and mine. There was lots of out of game talk, kids running around, looking up rules, people trying to figure out how something works, the eating and discussion of food, putting the kids to bed, references to geek culture stuff (star wars, etc.), swearing and jokes, but underneath it all was a bunch of people laughing and having a good time.

I don't mean to say that 4e players and games aren't supposed to be similar or fun. The similarities were notable because my experience with other groups are very limited.  It brought home to me that what really matters about playing the game, and why we actually play, is the fun with friends, not the rules.

I think streaming game sessions could also be a good way to introduce people to a new game system. Were I so inclined, I could have really sat here and tried to understand how 4e works as a system as a way of deciding if I wanted to buy it or not.  A live broadcast of an actual game session could be a good sales tool for anyone looking to market a gamesystem. If it was specifically for that purpose, however, I would make sure the kids were already in bed.  :)

It was also my first experience seeing how a virtual gametable worked in actual play.  At a glance, I don't think it's for me or my group or the style of game we play, but for others it might be interesting to take a look at.

Does anyone know if any other groups have either live streaming or podcast versions of their game sessions?  I'd be interested in checking them out, whether live or archived.

I also think that if some groups got together to stream their games live they could make money at it. You might even be able to set up some sort of subscription moel.  If Monte Cook, or the gang at Paizo or Rob Kuntz were to set up a semi-regular webcast of their personal games, I betcha there would be people who would pay to watch it.  It's like reality TV for geeks.

Ironic that my 50th blog post is about watching a 4e game.  :)

EDIT:  So, inspired by my ideas above, I posted this over at Paizo's Boards:

Have you guys ever thought of live webcasts or recorded podcasts of actual games you play with each other? You could probably get a subscription model out of it. Can't beat getting paid to play D&D and have a good time. You might even have guest DM or player of the week kinda stuff. Also, it would be a good way to introduce the game to people who are unsure of whether they are going to buy it, and as a way to introduce certain aspects of the game or other supporting products by showing how you use them. I think most DM's and players are always looking to be better at the game, so it would be looked at as a way to learn from the best in the industry.

Plus, it would be fun to watch. It's like reality TV for geeks. If you screw up or do something cool, you'll either get your balls busted or get accolades the next day on the boards.

Also, as an idea for Paizocon, live webcasts or podcasts we can download of the event which aren't taken by some audience member's cell phone camera would be something you might make some money at as well. If you could go to Paizocon for 50 bucks from the comfort of your own home, and watch the seminars or view games or conferences or panel discussions at your leisure, it could make some money and please a lot of fans who can't afford to go there. Virtual Paizocon. Heck, via chatroom functions you might even be able to take live questions and answers if it was streamed live.


  1. "I was struck by the similarities between their game and mine."

    I had a similar reaction when I first started listening to gaming podcasts. (I have yet to watch a live stream.) Especially since my first experience with podcast games was for Call of Cthulhu--I'd always felt there was too much goofing off in my old group's games, but here was the group behind goofing and laughing just as much as we used to.

    Your point about "selling" a game system through podcasts and live streams is definitely a valid one--last year WOTC did a podcast with the guys who do the PVP web comic, teaching them (and by proxy the listener) how to play 4E. I've also gotten use out of listening to podcasts of adventures I'm interested in running--it can be really instructive to hear a group play through an adventure.

    I'm not sure if there are any subscrition-based gaming podcasts, but I purchased a DVD-ROM of the "Masks of Nyarlathotep" and "Horror on the Orient Express" podcasts when it came out a couple months ago. There's some money in it, for sure.

  2. Hey Joe! Its Chad (aka Chadarius) from I'm glad you got a chance to watch us for a while.
    You are so right! For us its first about family and friends just having a good time. We often use our live broadcast for some of our remote players and for a few of our podcast fans that like to check in on us periodically.

    The virtual game table we are just starting to use is at They are awesome and really becoming great tools.

    Drop in and say hey anytime! I might actually pay attention to the chat room on uStream one of these nights.

  3. Thanks for dropping by the board. :) I was wondering about the chatroom part of it---I was typing and no one was responding, so I wondered if you guys watched it while playing. Who knows, you might get a hint that saves the day. :)

    BTW, the DM sounds a lot like David Letterman. :)

  4. That is so funny! I'm the DM and I think I do a pretty killer David Letterman impression!

    I just finished my adventure and two new DM's (we alternate between 4E and 3.5 with two DM's usually) will be taking over for the foreseeable future.

    With me back to playing PC's again I'll be able to handle the chatroom better during games.

  5. That sounds great, man. Do you have an email address/chat ID? It would be good to yack once in a while. You can email it to me at When is your next live streaming session? I also just watched/listened in the background to one of your saved games last night. Pretty funny stuff.


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