I, regularly, mock Sean about watching people play computer games rather than playing them himself. So it is with some chagrin that I reveal that over the last day or two I have watched a lot of YouTube videos of people playing boardgames. Of course the difference being that if I had the opportunity to play boardgames I would, so I feel my moral superiority over Sean is still intact. Which is the most important takeaway.
Now this isn’t my first foray into the world of YouTube X BoardGames (YouTube is clearly the seme). I’ve watched the majority of the Dice Tower’s Top 10’s (as well as a number of their reviews). They’re entertaining (and often detrimental to my wallet). I’ve also used YouTube for educational purposes in relation to boardgames (rahdo’s gameplay videos are generally pretty good, the Ghost Stories one was particularly useful). But I never had any real interest in watching people play boardgames, much as I have no real interest in watching people play any kind of game or sport.
However yesterday I found myself in the unenviable position of having (literally) a thousand or so cards to force into little plastic sleeves and I had watched (and rewatched, and rewatched, and rewatched, etc.) all the comedy shows I had on my hard drive. So I decided to look for some reviews of games I was interested in to throw on in the background. I stumbled across Will Wheaton’s TableTop episode where they play Dead of Winter so I threw it on. It turned out to be really entertaining, as well as giving a good idea of how the game might play out.
So I decided to check out the other TableTop videos. But as I did I noticed something, while most of them were entertaining (with some variances based on the guests) I found it hard to pay attention to (and ultimately stopped watching) the episodes for games that I didn’t already own or was interested in. So while I found the episodes to be generally adroit pieces of boardgame centric entertainment I only really enjoyed watching the ones for games I wanted to play. So it proved a poor marketing/evangelical tool but an excellent source of cardboard methadone.
I suppose its nature as a well produced piece of entertainment, particularly in Season 3, works against it being a solid example of play. Leaving aside unfortunate rules mistakes the fact that it skips turns without giving a solid summary of play can make the actual gameplay feel rather disjointed. Still, I got all my cards sleeved and had a mostly enjoyable viewing experience. I’ll certainly be checking it out going forward. Of the ones I watched the aforementioned Dead of Winter episode along with the playthrough of The Resistance and Munchkin were probably my favourites. While it certainly didn’t make me want the game the Forbidden Desert was very funny, thanks mainly to Alan Tudyk. And to make a lie of my comments about its ability to sway my almighty dollar, it did make me want to own a copy of Tokaido. Though that’s more because I’d only heard of it in passing and hadn’t seen the beautiful board and components. Though the Tokaido episode was solid.