Susan Omand gets all geeky and rolls the dice for this Guilty Pleasures Day article on Tabletop...
My name is Susan and I enjoy watching Wil Wheaton play boardgames on YouTube...
This fact is (apparently) wrong of me on SO MANY LEVELS! Yeah, no it’s not. So, in the interests of science, I am prepared to “out” myself as an addict of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop to try and explain the attraction/guilts and dispel the myths.
Guilt 1: Wil Wheaton.
Other People Say: Whether you know him as the annoying kid Wesley Crusher from Star Trek The Next Generation or from his obnoxious cameo appearances on The Big Bang Theory, I think everyone is agreed that Wil Wheaton on TV is NOT COOL.
I Say: Wil Wheaton, when he’s not being a character, IS cool. His Tabletop shows are pretty much him and his real (albeit sometimes famous like Seth Green) friends playing tabletop games. Even though the show was co-created by Wil and Felicia Day, it’s definitely “his” show, he runs the games, introduces them and the banter around the table can get quite heated (and NSFW) at times. His theatrical side comes to the fore a lot as he gets into some of the roles (even in non-RPG’s) quite seriously and that adds to the fun.
Guilt 2: Boardgames.
Other People Say: How geeky do you want to be?! Isn’t it all goblins and multi-sided dice?
I Say: Quite simply no, it’s not ALL goblins and fancy dice. It can be, I guess, if you want it to be. In a lot of cases though it’s more about real-life strategy than fantasy role playing as you try to build railroads or funfairs, save people from burning buildings, stop epidemics or hunt killers. There are so many different kinds of boardgames out there that don’t involve any fantasy/supernatural elements to it. And you also have the option to play as a team (co-op) as well as playing against each other so it’s not all about the competitive element either.
Guilt 3: Watching someone else play a game.
Other People Say: If you like boardgames so much, why not play them yourself? Why watch other people? Where’s the fun in that?
I Say: OK then, why don’t you go and play football instead of watching Match of the Day or go bake a meringue roulade instead of watching Bake Off? Same thing. I watch for the enjoyment of the games and the fun of seeing how other people who are good at them do. It’s also a good way to see if there games that I WOULD enjoy playing as they are often quite expensive purchases (this isn’t your Scrabble for under a tenner thing) and it would be a waste if I didn’t like the way it was played or if it was a faff to set up. But mostly, I watch for the chat between the players as they really get into the games and the decisions they make become important to them. It can get quite intense.
Guilt 4: On YouTube
Other People Say: YouTube?! That’s not even proper telly! It’s all just porn, pranks and funny cat videos.
I Say: Yes, a lot of it is (allegedly). But it’s also a really good way to find specialist programming like this. I admit no self-respecting TV Channel (I admit this is now an oxymoron) would be able to make tabletop gaming, or anything “a bit different,” into enough of a commercial success to merit showing it on national channels, even with a star name like Wil Wheaton involved, but you can find some high quality programming on YouTube, whatever your interest so don’t write it off until you’ve investigated it. All I’ll say is make sure your virus checker is up to date if you go clicking on spurious links.
I realise, though, that there are a vast majority of you out there that have no idea about anything I just said, or think that boardgames are just for kids or dungeon-masters and that Wil Wheaton is still just really annoying. That’s cool. You go on missing out, just don’t judge me for the fact that you really don’t know what you’re missing out on...
Play more games!
Image - YouTube.
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