#RPGaDay2021 – Day 8 – Stream

Week Two of #RPGaDay2021 begins today. It is Sunday, August 8th and our solo prompt for the day is the meaningfully mutable word ‘stream’.

Week2! Day 8!

LISTEN to the Casting Shadows Podcast instead

STREAM

For a lot of new gamers at the start of their journey down the stream of their first few RPG titles before being carried on currents of laughter and companionship toward the vast ocean of titles beyond, the notion that the games we play were private, ephemeral, and transient affairs, that the moment of our played lived on – for a while – only in the memories of the few participants, might never occur to them. While play is still mainly a small group activity, appreciation of play has been thrown open to the world as a matter of course. Privacy of play, for a large and growing number of players has become optional. Now, we can opt for celebration instead.

The gamers listening to this podcast, or reading the blog, and especially those catching it later in compilation form on YouTube are well aware of the force of the impact streaming has had on the hobby. For this post, I want to share three things that I appreciate. First, it defeats death and forgetfulness. Second, it expands our ability to learn and grow as gamers. Finally, it demystifies the process of play for the curious.

Death, where is thy sting?

Recording of sessions has grown more and more common. What I appreciate about this change in how we play is that the memory of what we play, what we do with it, how we did it, who was there, what they said, how they laughed, the bonds that formed – all of these can now remain as long as the electricity flows. Not even death can steal the memories, now. It is harsh to say, but true. Gaming is a social activity and the people that we play with are no less mortal than we are. At some point, there will be an empty seat, then another, and finally – only silence where once there was a clatter of dice and dreams made real. Now, unlike not all that long ago, visions of the past can be summoned by those who survive and those who follow. This isn’t a séance, or delusion, this is now a matter of simple everyday consumer electronics and basic services.

To learn, play

Gamers use these recordings as an archive, for gifts, for promotional material, for making new connections with gamers they discover have a passion for the same games. It is like magic or time travel in the way it can make the momentary and fleeting, permanent and shareable. All of that is an ideal elixir from which can flow the insight and information needed to see how we play, to identify how it differs from how we want to play or how a given game is best played with us as its players. Even better, it helps us revive games from hiatus or games we haven’t touched in years with the click of a mouse and a sudden dose of intensified digital memory.

Sharing is caring

The advent of stable and affordable video conferencing has pushed this even further. We can play any game, any time, with friends or with strangers. In a sense, the treat of going to a convention – a rare or impossible treat for many gamers – has been given stiff competition in that we can do as much, see as much, play as much, and yet stay at home to save our money for more games rather than travel tickets and hotels. It’s funny, when you think about it. We now have the power to stay at home while our games travel around the world.

What makes this good for not just us is that those who are curious about play, but are among the first in their social circles to want to try it can see games – lots of games – played. They can see what the words on the page mean, they can pick up the cultures of play, they can gain a sense of the traditions, in-jokes, and beloved qualities of the hobby, and they can see the many, many holes still left in the grand puzzle of gaming where they and their friends belong.

One Dao of Gaming?

Seeking a Dao of Play Playlist for you to Play, Player~

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