Tonight I watched/listened in the background to a group playing D&D 4e streamed live over the Internet. The site is http://lordsoftyr.com. Apparently they do it every 2 weeks. They had some sort of computerized gaming table software, and I think had some people playing remotely as well. It was very interesting. The players seem to be a husband and wife, with a few friends.
I have hardly played or even seen games played by people outside of a very small group of friends. Ignoring the fact that they were playing 4e, and I have no real clue how that system operates, I was struck by the similarities between their game and mine. There was lots of out of game talk, kids running around, looking up rules, people trying to figure out how something works, the eating and discussion of food, putting the kids to bed, references to geek culture stuff (star wars, etc.), swearing and jokes, but underneath it all was a bunch of people laughing and having a good time.
I don't mean to say that 4e players and games aren't supposed to be similar or fun. The similarities were notable because my experience with other groups are very limited. It brought home to me that what really matters about playing the game, and why we actually play, is the fun with friends, not the rules.
I think streaming game sessions could also be a good way to introduce people to a new game system. Were I so inclined, I could have really sat here and tried to understand how 4e works as a system as a way of deciding if I wanted to buy it or not. A live broadcast of an actual game session could be a good sales tool for anyone looking to market a gamesystem. If it was specifically for that purpose, however, I would make sure the kids were already in bed. :)
It was also my first experience seeing how a virtual gametable worked in actual play. At a glance, I don't think it's for me or my group or the style of game we play, but for others it might be interesting to take a look at.
Does anyone know if any other groups have either live streaming or podcast versions of their game sessions? I'd be interested in checking them out, whether live or archived.
I also think that if some groups got together to stream their games live they could make money at it. You might even be able to set up some sort of subscription moel. If Monte Cook, or the gang at Paizo or Rob Kuntz were to set up a semi-regular webcast of their personal games, I betcha there would be people who would pay to watch it. It's like reality TV for geeks.
Ironic that my 50th blog post is about watching a 4e game. :)
EDIT: So, inspired by my ideas above, I posted this over at Paizo's Boards:
Have you guys ever thought of live webcasts or recorded podcasts of actual games you play with each other? You could probably get a subscription model out of it. Can't beat getting paid to play D&D and have a good time. You might even have guest DM or player of the week kinda stuff. Also, it would be a good way to introduce the game to people who are unsure of whether they are going to buy it, and as a way to introduce certain aspects of the game or other supporting products by showing how you use them. I think most DM's and players are always looking to be better at the game, so it would be looked at as a way to learn from the best in the industry.
Plus, it would be fun to watch. It's like reality TV for geeks. If you screw up or do something cool, you'll either get your balls busted or get accolades the next day on the boards.
Also, as an idea for Paizocon, live webcasts or podcasts we can download of the event which aren't taken by some audience member's cell phone camera would be something you might make some money at as well. If you could go to Paizocon for 50 bucks from the comfort of your own home, and watch the seminars or view games or conferences or panel discussions at your leisure, it could make some money and please a lot of fans who can't afford to go there. Virtual Paizocon. Heck, via chatroom functions you might even be able to take live questions and answers if it was streamed live.