Note — Sep 06, 2020

The Digital Future of Tabletop Games

Seen in → No.140

Source → a16z.com/2020/09/01/tabletop-games-go-digital/

In another example of “software is not eating the world, it’s making new hybrids possible,” this piece looks at how the internet is opening new possibilities for tabletop games and making them accessible to new publics. “The next generation of tabletop games will diverge from tradition in four key ways: livestreaming, user-generated content, audio-first experiences, and online community platforms.” Basically; people can learn on their own using livestreaming, Youtube, and podcasts; find groups to play with from a much larger pool; experience the games in new forms (audio, for one); and once together they can create orders of magnitude more content for themselves then they could with one group in a basement.

Intersect this with video games becoming bigger than Hollywood (old story), game engines being used to create tv series and movies, and gamification being used everywhere, and you start having a whole lot of different domains touching and overlapping, cross-breeding through their common digitalization.

For an adjacent hybrid, see my members’ Dispatch about the Metaverse, now unlocked for all.

[T]he next generation of games goes a step further, integrating tools such as live-streaming, user generated content (UGC), audio products, and community platforms. This digital transformation is reinventing the way we learn, play, and connect with one another over tabletop games. […]

Today, chess consistently trends as a top 30 game on Twitch in terms of hours watched, topping even AAA heavyweights such as Starcraft 2 and the recently released Ghost of Tsushima. […]

Through these streams, D&D has managed to capture a fresh audience. Total hours of D&D streamed has doubled every year since 2015. Last year, viewers watched 20 million hours of D&D on Twitch alone. […]

On the Alexa platform alone, there are over 10,000 audio games in the “Knowledge and Trivia” section, most of which are adaptations of parlor games. Classics such as Trivia, Scattergories, and Would You Rather are perennially popular. Song Quiz is a “name-that-song” trivia game with a cloud-based music library that is constantly updated with new songs. […]

Over the past decade, these platforms have been able to stitch together fragmented groups into a connected online community. The official DnD subreddit counts over 2 million members; the MTG subreddit counts over 500,000. There are more than 4,500 Discord servers dedicated to D&D or Magic, where tens of thousands of players chat with each other about their favorite cards and campaigns.