In Praise of Tabletop

I’ve been enjoying the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel, especially the Sword & Laser video show, but today, I want to talk about the awesome that is Tabletop.

I’ve been a gamer nearly all of my life, but I became a Gamer at the tender age of nine, when classmates at school invited me to play D&D with them. My first character was a Barbarian with a Dune Buggy, and it was all downhill from there.

Like many geeks of my generation, large portions of my teen years were spent in front of dining room tables, consoles, and PCs, playing games of all types: video, board, collectible card, strategy, miniatures, and so on.

Wil Wheaton had a distinctively different upbringing than I did, having been a child star and all, but this thing we have in common: a great love for tabletop games. Wheaton brings this love to Tabletop, a web series where he invites friends and colleagues to hang out and play board games, card games, and strategy games. Wheaton has taken up a role of advocacy for these games, touting their ability to train critical thinking, strategy, teamwork, and to strengthen social connections. But rather than doing it in a Suzanne Somers “Please adopt this hungry d12. Just a quarter a day can help it get the crayons it needs to have clearly defined numbers…” kind of way, more a “this is really fun, let me give you the jist and then we will show you!”

The gameplay shown in Tabletop is intentionally heightened, as the players are clearly ‘ON’ in terms of giving a performance to maximize watchability, but it is usually not a huge stretch from an animated game between good friends.

One of the benefits of the show for me (and I hope many others) is the chance to introduce loved ones to the joy of tabletop games. I’ve bought several of the games featured (at my friendly local game store, of course), and shared them with my girlfriend, who is very gracious about sharing my passions, and whom I hope to turn to the Dork side of the Force (at least a little, if she wants).

I’ve embedded the first episode here to give a sense of the show.

What are some of your favorite tabletop games? Anything you think would be especially good for the show?

One thought on “In Praise of Tabletop

  1. My wife and I have been loving Tabletop as well. It’s a terrific show, in the style of a Food Network show, with, as you noted, some heightened drama to make it more watchable. We had the chance to meet Wil at a local arcade last year and not only is he quite the gamer, he’s also very personable, genuinely a nice guy.

    Our current favorite is Dominion, an awesome non-collectible deck building card game, which would be perfect for the show. Pandemic and Forbidden Island are two more great co-op game like Castle Panic which would also be great to see Wil and friends play.

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