I'm not entirely certain what led me to watch my first episode of Wil Wheaton's gaming show TableTop. It's not as if I counted myself among the target audience: I'd never actually played a tabletop game -- well, not counting "Life" or "Sorry"-- and blithely walked past those for sale at the comic shops and bookstores I've frequented over the years.
Cloudy provenance aside, I did find my way to the show and am glad I did ... despite the fact that:
- The idea of watching people play a board game just sounds ... odd. Until you take into consideration that gameplay videos are huge online, and millions of people watch grown men play games like football and basketball despite the fact that many of those same viewers are completely competent enough to, you know, go to a park and play one of those games themselves. Sometimes, we all just like to watch.
- The show often features guests I've never heard of before in my life. That's not a bad thing, per se. I'm just saying that it might be easier to understand the appeal of the show if its guest list paralleled favorite performers of mine. (No offense to folks like Nika Harper, Sandeep Parikh or Michael Swaim.)
- Even with its phenomenal post-Kickstarter budget, the show never really strays from a table. Admittedly, there's usually a couch at the end, and intermittent "talking head" spots, but, really, it's just folks sitting around a table.
So, are you pumped? Feeling really thrilled to watch and episode or two? You should, and here's why:
- Wheaton typically does a darn good job of bringing folks together who really seem to enjoy one another's company.
- The show's aesthetic, modest as it is, adds to the charm. C'mon, how many times do you really want to point your eyes at $100 million of CGI?
- The game is always the star of the show, and some of these look very entertaining. (Yes, I've purchased a few after seeing them on TableTop.)
I want to save you a bit of a trip -- clicking a hyperlink can be really difficult, after all -- so here's one of my favorite episodes, featuring, among others, Garfunkel and Oates' Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome.
You can check out more game play right here.