Success in RPGs and Streaming

"An old man is seen in profile sitting in an armchair and telling stories to an audience of four children as his fantastic shadow is projected on the back wall of the room." From "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving, published in 1919.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham

What does “success” mean for you? Why do you create stuff for RPGs, or stream your game, or whatever you do?

Growth

“Success” looks different for different folks, in whatever area of life. We have varying purposes and principles as we go about whatever we’re doing. In my case, playing RPGs and even streaming them are both just about having fun with friends and hopefully bringing more people into RPGs. I don’t mean looking for a huge audience, but instead growing the hobby and finding more folks from underrepresented groups.

The sad truth of streaming games is that sometimes you are playing at the same time other friends are also streaming. It’s not a competition – it’s just scheduling constraints. The potential audience and pool of other players (streaming or otherwise) is far, far larger than what we already have. Part of that is structural. Historically, D&D players look like me: a straight white American dude. But when other kinds of people get a good chance to play or watch, they love it! As I have gotten to play with more diverse players, my game experiences have similarly broadened, and I’ve had more fun. They have, too!

Capitalizing

I respect that other folks are trying to turn these things into a side gig or even a career, but that’s not the situation I find myself in. I personally don’t want to turn my downtime into another job. This capitalist idea of “everything must be monetized to have worth” annoys me. I’m not suggesting that’s the mentality for everyone, certainly! But it’s a temptation in the broader RPG community even among people who, like me, see this purely as a hobby.

Fundraising or charity drives work better for me. Last month, all income from Variant Roles streams became a donation to Trans Lifeline and we raised over $500 (I don’t know the exact number). This feels way better for me, since I have a very good career and a job I don’t hate. Again: if other folks want to turn these sorts of things into their careers, that’s great, because we will always need professional writers and artists and game designers. But if it’s going to be a hobby, you don’t have to feel obligated to turn it into money. We can do things just because they’re fun, not because they are an income stream.

So when I talk on Twitter or even here about streaming, please know it has nothing to do with trying to “make it” and everything to do with wanting to have fun with people of all sorts!

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