If you are a person of a certain age, you may find that the love of Dungeons and Dragons you secretly harbored as a youth is finally gaining some respectability thanks to shows like Stranger Things and common interests with video gaming, anime/manga, cosplay, comic books, etc which has insured its presence at conventions across the nation.
Even if you aren’t particularly enamored of the game, as people interested in artistic and creative expressions, you might do well to pay attention to the storytelling elements of games like Dungeons and Dragons and think about how you might tap into this practice as a method of creating new work.
To be clear. I am not necessarily talking about creating new work based on fantasy settings. I am just thinking about the fact that there are a lot of people out there engaged in the process of world building and exploring what makes for an interesting story and character traits/backstory.
Right now there is an explosion of groups creating 3-4 hour videos of their gaming sessions on a weekly basis.
While I haven’t had an opportunity to evaluate them all, for me the current gold standard is Critical Role which features “a group of nerdy-ass voice actors playing Dungeons and Dragons.” What I appreciate about them is the amount of effort they put into the game. They follow the rule about showing and not telling in the process of fleshing out their character. There is still a lot of out of character, off color commentary, but they definitely have invested themselves in their roles and upped the stakes for themselves in terms of embodying flawed rather than clearly heroic entities since they moved into a new campaign in January.
Another long lived, though intermittent group is Acquisitions, Inc which started podcasting games a decade ago. They have a “spin off” group called The C Team that videocasts session on a more regular basis.
Wizard of the Coast which owns the Dungeons and Dragons property has really been supporting this trend with their own groups like Dice, Camera, Action. In the last month, they drew attention to other groups like UK based High Rollers; all female gaming group, Girls, Guts, Glory, and new Chicago based group Rivals of Waterdeep.
Wizards is making a pretty clear attempt to show that everyone can enjoy participating in creating stories and building worlds regardless of race, gender or geography. In the process of checking out those participating in a recent roll out event at the start of June, I discovered some members of a relatively noteworthy group who podcast their adventures lives within 20 miles of me.
It has all got me thinking about different opportunities. These might consist of checking out local groups and inviting them to present one of their gaming sessions publicly in one of our spaces. Or as I suggested earlier, consider if there some project we could collaborate on which tapped into the world building and storytelling process. The result could be anything from a dramatization of a local story to periodic pop up of multi-media experiences projected on the side of buildings and other structures to public art installations.
I really see this as a tool/process to involve people in a project who might not normally feel they had the capacity or permission to create and contribute.