I’m a big fan of board game videos and I was very excited when I heard that geek culture ambassador Wil Wheaton was going to host a web series devoted to tabletop board games. TableTop is just one of the shows featured in a Premium YouTube channel called Geek & Sundry. TableTop has already featured some great games like Small World, Gloom, Munchkin, and Ticket to Ride.
- It has professional production values. There are many great YouTube videos out there that have been created by the gaming community, but TableTop is a professionally produced web series with real lighting and sound design, scripted content, and often features known talent. I have no idea where this was shot, but they do a great job of dressing the set for each show. I also covet the gorgeous Geek Chic gaming table that is the focal point on which each game is displayed.
- It has a charismatic celebrity host and features new guests each episode. Wheaton’s enthusiasm is both genuine and contagious. This coming together of often oddball personalities is exactly what I love about gaming. The show cuts in and out of play for short segments on how the players are feeling about the game, which is silly in a real gaming session, but is perfect for capturing some personal insights from the players in this kind of presentation.
- It has a format like a real show. Some folks just don’t get this idea, but board game video pioneers like Scott Nicholson understood this years ago. A good show will feature a predictable format. Wil introduces the game and shows the components and the basic flow of the rules, and then they jump right into playing. They take breaks to introduce each player as they take their turn, so that we can establish some connection with who we are watching, and Wil also explains new rules or situations as they occur in cutaway isolation segments that focus on the game itself. They skip through all of the repetitive parts and keep the viewers up to date on the scoring, and then they play out the endgame. Losers commiserate with theatrical bourbon and winners are celebrated at the closing segment. Having those familiar signposts makes viewers like myself at ease because I know what to expect, and I know what I have to look forward to.
- It’s not a review! TableTop features a game, and gives the viewer a good idea of how to play it. We know from the start that Wheaton feels that this is a great game and is worth sharing. I like that. I’m happy to skip all of the evaluative narrative and get right to the fun. I am not interested in listening to someone talk about a game or demonstrate a game that they don’t think is worth playing.
- It has a positive impact on the gaming industry. Even the folks at my friendly neighborhood game store have acknowledged the Wheaton Effect. Most of the games that are featured on TableTop show a measurable boost in sales. That’s real market impact.
I look forward to each new episode and check out the additional bonus segments afterwards. Thank you Wil Wheaton! Thanks to you and the other producers for creating such a great show!
What do you think about TableTop? Has it influenced you to try a new game, or even try a game that you thought you weren’t interested in before you watched the episode? I would like to hear what you think!