Sunday, January 25, 2015

TableTop by Geek & Sundry: Best Online Program

You might believe my love of Star Trek: The Next Generation skews my opinion of the show TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton. Yes, TNG is my favorite show. No, Wil Wheaton, cast member of the former hit show, does not dictate my opinion on what I believe is the best online program today. It just happens to be an added bonus that he co-created this genius show.

Actually, I've felt this way since the show originally aired.  Now, TableTop has started Season 3 and they started with a very fun game (that I had never heard of) called Tokaido.

I won't go into the details of the game, because I've never played the game or know the rules well enough after watching it be played on the hit show. I will say that TableTop brings a great experience to everyone that loves to hang out with friends, play board games, and learn something new along the way.

For me, I learn something almost every episode because my gaming experience is limited. I grew up on Nintendo and Super Nintendo, with games like Super Mario, Zelda, and Kid Icarus, and board games like Trivial Pursuit and Life. As I've gotten older, I realize how much I enjoy playing board and card games with my friends, because there are a combination of things that happen usually. First, we spend the afternoon or evening catching up on past events since last seeing each other. Next, we figure out what game(s) we're going to play, which then turns the evening into a different event each time because each game has its own makeup. Is it strategy-based and pits each player against each other? Is it collaborative as the group tries to defeat the evil board game monster? Is it a fun guessing game involving playing cards with fun images?

Lastly, playing board games is something I relish in a very selfish way. It allows me to have a sense of camaraderie with my wife and friends that like the same things. Granted, my wife will usually watch us play unless it's a card game, but card games are kind of how we met on a beach trip with friends a long time ago, and then those same card games allowed us to catch up when those said friends got married. Then we started dating and the remaining glorious history of our relationship sprung from there. Okay, I threw some personal history in there; now back to TableTop.

TableTop is a show on Geek & Sundry, created by Felicia Day, which allows its viewers to watch Wil and a few guests play a game. At the beginning and throughout the show, the rules are explained so every person watching can better understand the mechanics of each game.

What do I love most about TableTop? The interaction between all of the players is so fun to watch, and it reminds me of when I play with my friends. Everyone is there to have fun and play a game, possibly for the first time, and they'll probably settle down to play again further down the road. I enjoy watching the enthusiasm when they play; it's contagious and it makes me want to find out what game they'll be playing next or what games other viewers play in their spare time.

This is just one writer's opinion. I'm not employed by Geek & Sundry. I'm not paid to feel this way or write this piece. I just really love TableTop and look forward to the next episode, and the next season after one concludes. Season 3 was made possible by fans of TableTop who donated money to fund its production. How amazing is that? It's pretty amazing! So many people have spent time and money to support this entertaining show that also happens to springboard a positive message. It is absolutely okay to enjoy spending time with friends and play games. It allows everyone to be themselves, or pretend to be someone else; depends on the game. TableTop encourages inclusion among its guests and viewers, and I believe Wil really understands the role that board games can play in our lives.

Board games are meant to be fun. They can be extremely competitive, but it can be done in a way that isn't threatening or demeaning in any way. Game play can also be very laid back and allow friends to play a game without having too much strategy, which can allow for friends to banter back and forth about other topics. In my life, I love hearing about my friends' work and their trips to conventions in their spare time; it makes me feel like so much time hasn't passed since our last encounter. I believe this show represents a kindness that can be forgotten in today's electronic world. Guests of the show can be scientists, writers, actors, tattooed, dyed hair, and overall represent a diverse population, which expresses the true nature of the show. TableTop is meant to incorporate everyone and never exclude anyone. If you like to play board games, then watch this show or seek out local games. It's meant to promote friendship and friendly-spirited game play.

My wife's a teacher. I'm a writer. I have friends that are physicists, college students while working full-time, in law enforcement or military, teachers, counselors, work in higher education, recreation, sales, and some are in the art world. The point is that we've all played games together at some point and it remains a vivid memory to this day. That's the point, isn't it? The moments we share will be there to remember and to do all over again.

That's what TableTop represents to me.

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