With the Amazon purchase of Twitch in August of 2014, many eyebrows were raised in confusion and fear the mega-corporation would tarnish the platform. Many nerds, geeks, and gamers found Twitch to be a safe haven where they could watch their favorite streamers play video games, interact with communities, and engage in the sphere of geekdom in all its flavors and colors. And with the introduction of Amazon into the picture, people believed that safe haven would disappear into the aether to be replaced by profit margins and the ever-reaching hand of big business.
But now as we enter 2018, it’s clear over the past four years the platform has been bolstered, not bloodied, and the geek community has more opportunities to not just survive, but thrive, in the modern world.
Stay nerdy with Amazon and Twitch
We’ve started to see more and more products on Amazon tailored for nerds: resources in print and e-book form from both big publishers and self-published authors for tabletop roleplaying games, mugs and T-shirts and anything else under the sun with nerdy phrases emblazoned across them, dice varieties numbering in the hundreds from various companies, and much more.
Twitch is on the rise with more resources than ever to support broadcasters and there really hasn’t been a better time to be a viewer. Combine Twitch with the bevy of tools for online tabletop roleplaying that have cropped up in the past few years and we also see why there’s been a massive resurgence in the popularity of the beloved hobby. People can watch streamers engage in tabletop roleplaying with other streamers because of the tools out there for gaming digitally.
One of those resources is Amazon Prime, which is Amazon’s service providing free two-day shipping on pretty much any purchase and gives access to movies, TV shows, e-books, and music sitting inside Amazon’s vast digital catalogue. People can even sign up for a 30-day trial for Amazon Prime just to see how it impacts their online shopping habits with convenience and ease of access.
But you might be asking what that has to do with Twitch as a platform. The beautiful thing is because of the merger between the two companies, people with Amazon Prime get a subscription token on Twitch they can drop on their favorite broadcaster (or community of broadcasters). In case people are unfamiliar with Twitch, aside from donations to the streamer, subscriptions are the main source of income for Twitch broadcasters. They’re the lifeblood enabling many broadcasters to do it full time and provide the kind of entertainment a sizable chunk of the geek community consumes on a daily basis.
So it should come as no surprise the Twitch Prime subscription token was a welcome addition to the platform in the minds of broadcasters and viewers alike: now if someone had Amazon Prime (even the 30-day trial version), but couldn’t afford a subscription to their favorite broadcaster, they got one for free via their Prime membership. All told there’s been a massive upswing in support for broadcasters, large and small alike.
It’s a great time to be a nerd.
What’s out there?
With all that being said, let’s look at some of the things both Twitch and Amazon have to offer for nerds, geeks, tabletop roleplayers, and all things inbetween.
Twitch channels to check out:
There’s a plethora of channels on Twitch, all with unique broadcasters bringing something different to the table. This is true now, more than ever, and some would say the broadcasting domain is a pretty saturated one. In some cases, like variety casters, this could be a drawback. But in the case of tabletop roleplaying this is a huge boon to the hobby as a whole. The more people who put themselves out there and produce content revolving around Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or other less known roleplaying games, the wider the audience becomes consuming this content. Consequently, we get a wider variety of styles and philosophies getting brought to the table (literally and figuratively) that can help to inform the way we approach the hobby as a whole.
Here’s a few examples of Twitch channels highlighting roleplaying games as core features of their entertainment value:
- RollPlay (twitch.tv./itmejp):
- RollPlay is “an ongoing multi-show franchise based around tabletop gaming with popular content creators.” Featuring shows like Nebula Jazz, Court of Swords, RollPlay: Blades in the Dark, and The West Marches, RollPlay is a portion of itmeJP’s channel focusing on tabletop roleplaying. There have been various Game Masters who have run shows over the franchise’s five year history, but the current main GM is Adam Koebel, co-author of the award-winning RPG, Dungeon World. In recent months, RollPlay has also done panels and interviews with various community members and content creators like Matt Colville, Matt Mercer, Mike Mearls, and many others to bring their unique perspectives on roleplaying into the modern era.
- Geek and Sundry (twitch.tv/geekandsundry)
- Home to the roleplaying phenomenon Critical Role, Geek and Sundry is a channel/company created by Felicia Day helping to bring elements of geek culture to the forefront of our society. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the channel is best known for the show where “a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors get together and play D&D.” Critical Role was a hit from the beginning, garnering thousands of viewers who wanted to see these voice actors sitting around, rolling dice, and roleplaying characters. But even more, Critical Role showed the games we love don’t look all that different when they’re played by actors. Roleplaying games have an enduring quality about them that essentially boils down to telling a story with your friends. And Geek and Sundry helped to make that clear with its introduction of Critical Role into the public sphere.
- Dungeons & Dragons (twitch.tv/dnd)
- This Twitch channel serves as the hub for D&D news and live gameplay sessions, hosted by various Dungeon Masters like Chris Perkins, Kurtis Weibe, Satine Phoenix, and Adam Koebel. The channel also hosts the popular Dragon Talk series, which follows the format of a radio show where all things D&D are discussed, from news about the game to questions about lore details in the worlds of D&D. You can also catch the Acquisitions Incorporated games on this channel when the various PAX conventions roll around each year (they can also be found on twitch.tv/pennyarcade). Overall, the Dungeons & Dragons Twitch channel is a fantastic source for both general knowledge about the trajectory of the game and specific examples of different DMs doing what they love.
- Nerdarchy (twitch.tv/nerdarchy)
- Yes, even Nerdarchy is on Twitch, streaming Sundays at 9 p.m. EST and Monday-Thursday 12 p.m. EST. You can watch the various interviews between community members and catch the live streamed gameplay from the house games going on, which you may recognize from some of the YouTube videos that have been posted over at the Nerdarchy channel. More great content from the Nerdarchists is always better. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: We’re starting to explore Twitch even more and have several live stream games in the works over there, including my first foray as a DM for a live stream game!]
These are just a few examples of the many Twitch channels providing tabletop roleplaying content. Just browsing through the D&D directory on Twitch will net you a whole host of other fantastic broadcasters bringing the hobby we love to life. And of course, if you’ve taken advantage of the Twitch Prime token from Amazon Prime membership, feel free to drop it on these broadcasters to show your support for their incredible work.
Amazon products to help you get your nerd on
It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, chances are Amazon has it somewhere. Just typing “tabletop roleplaying” into the search bar yields over 1000 results related to the hobby as a whole. Below you’ll find just a few I think are pretty great, whether you’re looking for supplies at the table, food for thought as you prep for sessions, or just want to explore deeper into the hobby.
- Pocket Health/Condition Trackers by Stratagem:
- These handheld trackers eliminate the need for erasing and rewriting on your character sheets, letting you keep track of hit points, status conditions, bonuses and penalties to your characters, etc. The art style is colorful and stylistic, so they’re not just useful, they’re nice to look at as well.
- Kobold Press Catalogue:
- If you’re a DM/GM who is at all familiar with third-party content creators for D&D or other roleplaying games, you’ve probably heard of Kobold Press. They consistently put out great content from added classes and feats, to anthologies of adventures, to collections of essays from popular voices in the tabletop community at large. Fortunately, you can get most of their catalogue from Amazon, either in digital form for Kindle devices or in print.
- “Because I’m the DM” Mug:
- For those of us who like to have a cup of coffee or tea while we’re seated at the table for a roleplaying session, this mug is great. And if you happen to be a DM as well, you can telegraph the golden rule of gaming to your players at the same time.
- Table Fables II: The World Builder’s Handbook:
- Whether you’re a fantasy/sci-fi writer who’s building a setting to populate with characters and plots or a DM/GM who wants to flesh out their world with interesting places, worldbuilding can be a tall order. Table Fables II is a collection of random tables and generators that can help your spark of creativity. It’s focused on “creating unique lands and filling them with adventures and encounters”. There’s also Table Fables I, which centers primarily on details you didn’t prepare for or didn’t think of while writing. I think both are good resources for anyone who’s undertaking a creative endeavor in a made-up setting.
If any of these struck your fancy, or you find anything else on Amazon you just can’t live without, consider using the Nerdarchy affiliate link. Nothing changes for you, but you help to support this great community while doing your regular shopping.
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Graduate student in pure math by day, avid tabletop gamer by night. Austin is a lifelong gamer who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction, and musing about all things tabletop roleplaying, from classic hidden gems to modern powerhouses like 5e D&D.