This is Audio EXP for the 8th of May 2021, and the title of this episode is “Dungeons and Dragons flirts with eSports”.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #95]
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Would you live in a world where magic was a real thing? If that’s not a contradiction in terms.
Let’s try again; if you had a choice, would you live in a world where people could cast magic spells?
Last year, as part of a competition to giveaway a copy of Rivers of London: The Fey and The Furious, I asked readers that question.
Nearly 80% of readers, and randoms who popped in just to win a graphic novel, said they would. They’d go. They’d prefer to live in a world where spells happened, and I assume that’s in contrast to this reality-based reality.
Women, compared to men, however, were less likely to want to make the switch. The competition also had answers from people who consider themselves neither a man nor a woman, but not a large number, so it’s hard to make any further analysis there.
Why do you think women are less likely to want to live in a magic world? About 25% of women weren’t up for the idea, which compares to 20% of men.
I suspect, sorry to say, that this caution is a reflection of this world rather than this imaginary world we’re talking about. Either that or women have less patience for the tomfoolery I ask for in Geek Native competitions.
Speaking of which, there’s a new one running on the blog. I’ll tell you a bit more about that shortly, but first want to mention some other updates.
I took all the convention data I had in the Geek Native calendar that tracks these events, popped them in a spreadsheet and – yeah, I know, I should have been doing that all along – and built some Google Data Studio dashboards around them.
As a result, you can now search for online and hybrid events by topic, i.e., find just an anime one or a Warhammer one, and you can search for physical events near you.
There’s even an interactive map that plots these conventions on a map of the world. So, if you know of a local gaming convention, please let me know, and I’ll get you added.
I don’t imagine I’ll be going to a gaming convention soon. That’s not entirely due to the lockdown. Real-life is incredibly awkward right now; I find myself very short of cash and therefore adding more to the Geek Native store. Now, there are no ads on this podcast, but you do know you can go to geeknative.com/shop and be redirected into the Redbubble store, right?
Updates this week include spooky Cthulhian tablets, which are now used to illustrate the geeky convention calendar but which you can also have as notebooks, which I think make great gifts to your GM. There are also bathmats in that design if you’re weird like that and even drink coasters if you’re weird like me because I’m tempted by a set.
There is also more sleepy dragon merch. That’s a design that features on the Geek Native business card. Patreons see that when they get a physical gift from me, but I think few others do. Now you can have a sleepy dragon scarf, shower curtain or throw for your bed.
I shall endeavour to mention the store more than once every 100 podcasts. It’s good to diversify.
Speaking of financial diversification, the very influential financial analysis agency Fitch Ratings reaffirmed their negative forecast for Hasbro.
Yes, Wizards of the Coast are making money for Hasbro right now, but what happens next?
Fitch points out that Hasbro bought eOne for $1bn a few years back, has all that debt, and hasn’t been able to do anything with the entertainment company since then because of the pandemic. We also got the first photograph from the D&D movie this week, which is now filming and managed by eOne. That might be related.
Fitch also said they think Hasbro’s done pretty much everything you can think of with legacy titles like Monopoly, Transformers and G.I. Joe. There are already movies, models and games. Is there any more space on your shelves for another Monopoly? If the answer is no, then that’s kinda Fitch’s point.
Now, we’re not through with Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro’s finances yet. Do you remember back to 2018 when Hasbro’s CEO seemed to say D&D was suitable for eSports?
It caused quite a stir.
This, though, was before the D&D Dark Alliance computer game, which may be more suited.
I wrote about it in retrospect, digging into the words written, and I’m not entirely sure that is what was said. I think the point might have been that there was an overlap in audiences between eSports and D&D.
The hot news this week is that overlap is now firmly in Venn. Wizards of the Coast have partnered with the Comcast-owned G4 network to run D&D Live 2021.
In other news, the G4 eSports network is coming out of retirement after Comcast put it there.
G4’s latest big hire is ex-Blizzard salesperson Josh Cella, who is now in charge of getting people to pay to watch G4’s content or find ways to make money from it.
I guess the technology behind live streams and real-time community management means it may be a good idea for WotC to outsource D&D Live 2021 for now rather than try and maintain an expensive and not always used internal infrastructure.
OneBookShelf, the company that owns DMs Guild and DriveThruRPG, also has a technology challenge this week. The printers they use are being retired.
Print on demand books from these sites come through a company called Lightning Source. There are pros and cons for Lightning Source, and that’s fine. I don’t see OBS ever doing their own international printing hubs, so there will always be partners involved.
As it happens, Lightning Source can’t profitably print the old top of the range products for OBS any more. The new printers will be a bit cheaper, about 6%. OBS have told me they’ll be watching the quality closely.
They’ve also told me they’ve kicked off a review of printer partners. I can’t claim to know the market exceptionally well, but I think they’ll be hard-pressed to find an alternative option.
A side note to this story is a slight struggle to find any RPG publisher who wanted to comment on it. I wasn’t going to ask if they would pass that 6% saving on to customers. It’s peanuts given the low cost of most books.
However, it was a chance to talk about upcoming projects and caring about the quality of their physical books. At the very least, an opportunity to put their brand in front of gamers. No one was interested. It’s hard being an RPG publisher, and I think a common challenge is marketing, especially that marketing instinct you need to have to leap at chances like that.
I don’t just try and offer publishers the opportunity for quotes in RPG news to help out with publicity. There’s also the RPG Publisher Spotlight that’s made possible by Patreons. Once a month, the blog puts a focus on a small creator or publisher.
I also now offer them a chance to participate in a Round Table discussion held on the Geek Native Discord server. Although that’s still very much a project in development.
The last write up from the first round table, inhospitable settings is now live on the site. It was a collaborative effort with Valiant Fox. Valiant Fox has a D&D 5e setting called Fading Embers, in which it’s always winter, and fire magic isn’t really a thing.
Together we built a series of tables and suggestions on how to restrict magic if you too wanted to have a D&D 5e setting that was especially cold, one in which water was scarce, one with low-light and one in which plant life grows magically and dangerously out of control.
It turned into a big project, so thanks to John for helping out with it!
We didn’t discuss a setting in which the undead or chaos legions were out of control.
However, this week I did review the Soulbound Starter Set.
It’s a boxed set that costs less than a core rulebook and, therefore, great value. It comes with maps, pre-written characters, lots of rules summaries, dice and two adventure books.
I was impressed.
I also reviewed Osprey’s Stargrave this week. That’s a tabletop skirmish game, not a thing I thought I had time or space for. I certainly don’t have the money, as I’ve already overshared with you.
Stargrave is kinda different, though. Yes, there are models for it. But it’s not a tabletop skirmish game that’s written to sell you more models. You can use whatever sci-fi miniatures you have.
If you’re a fan or have heard good things about Frostgrave, then I’m sure you’ll like Stargrave. I had no previous experience and found myself wondering, “What if…” to the question of having sci-fi models.
Sadly, it’s not a matter of willpower. I simply have to put all such lavish ideas away for now. Later, though. Hmm. Later might be an option.
One of the great things, among many great things, about this hobby, is that it’s a labour of love for many people. The Velvet Book an RPG that conjures up an atmosphere like the Persona computer games and anime series have. It’s hundreds of pages long and entirely free.
So, money is rarely a show-stopper to getting a game. It’s just a show-stopper for certain games.
The Velvet Book could easily cost tens of Dollars for a PDF. It’s powered by the One Roll Engine, well presented, sensible and absolutely worth your time if you’re an anime fan.
Geek Native also hit an anime milestone this week. The Irregular Reconnaissance column hit issue number 100.
That means there are at least 500 anime mini-reviews on the site. Each one is designed to avoid spoilers and instead share what I think or feel about a show, a few episodes at a time.
The theory is, if you discover I have rubbish tastes and you like the opposite of me, then the mini-reviews are still helpful as you can check out the animes I watch, dislike and abandon.
I toy with the ideas of some sort of reader-contributed score for each anime covered, but WordPress does not make it easy, and my natural inclination takes me back to Googletech with Sheets and Polls.
Other TV-screen based news this week includes the fact that a huge webcomic I’ve never heard of is likely to get a TV series. It’s called Let’s Play.
Do you know it? It’s one of the most well-read serialised webcomics in the West, with nearly 4 million weekly readers. 4 million! I mean, shame on me for not having encountered it before.
The people who will turn it into a TV show are the production company that made the Bloodshot movie—the one with Vin Diesel and Guy Pearce.
Lastly, just before we get on to that competition, I told you about the usual outro of bundles, one last TV story.
Old footage of Games Workshop co-founders Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone has emerged of them introducing author Ben Elton, and the British TV public to D&D back in 1984 has been remastered.
It’s not as cringe as I feared, but it’s not without cringe. Nevertheless, as a piece of our history, I think it’s worth a watch.
I’ve built too much hype around the competition, haven’t I?
Well, it’s for Issue 1 and Issue 2 of the comic book Buzzard. I’ve two of each to giveaway. The Kickstarter for Buzzard 3 launched this week, but we’ll go on our timeline, and you won’t have to wait for that third comic to be made before winners get issues 1 and 2.
Buzzard is best summed up as Deadpool meets Kingsman. I’m prepared to pop the two physical copies into the post for anywhere, so even if you’re not based in the UK, you’re welcome to enter. Er, providing it’s legal for me to send you stuff in the mail.
Two bundles caught my eye for this podcast. The first is Legendary Planet. That’s a cosmic fantasy adventure in both Pathfinder 1e and D&D 5e rules from Legendary Games.
The second is Heavy Metal’s Heaviest Metal deal on Humble Bundle. More comic books and, good news, IGN has uncapped the amount of money you can donate to charity in the bundles.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, and we’ll see you next week.
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