5 ways streaming board games can change our community for the better

The current COVID-19 crisis has dramatically changed the landscape for how we access and play our board games. As a publisher Alley Cat Games has been thinking a lot about how we can adapt to the current challenges but also what lessons we can take from this moving forward.


We've created remote play resources and shared our games on digital platforms like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. We wanted to go beyond that and began live plays of our current and upcoming games. By streaming our board games live each Thursday (2 pm UK time) on Facebook Live and Twitch we are exploring new ways to connect with the community and believe the benefits go beyond the present situation.


With that in mind, here are 5 ways streaming board games can change our community for the better, plus some advice on how you can get involved too.



Accessibility


Due to the current COVID-19 crisis many conventions are now heading online, with Gen Con, Origins, UKGE, Essen and more looking to represent themselves in some way on streaming platforms. Conventions have historically been a big way for Publishers to showcase their latest titles and a popular way for players to experience games before owning them. Showing your board games in person isn’t without its restrictions though, even ignoring the current situation at hand.


A large part of the community don’t or perhaps can’t attend these events for a variety of reasons, be those personal, financial, health-based, or the event taking place in a location too far away. It should be stressed that accessibility issues have always existed, and impact any location, be that a game cafe, store, or even houses of other players that you might want to visit, but are unable to.


Even assuming you can get wherever you need to, having the players required to play the game you are interested in isn’t as straightforward as it sounds either. Free online streaming services, such as Twitch, Youtube Live, and Facebook Live, remove many of these barriers, giving the opportunity for more people to be able to watch and gain a better understanding of the experience of these games, in real-time, than ever before.


Interactivity


Rulebooks and pre-recorded videos are without a doubt a fantastic resource for learning board games, and reviews can give us better insight into which games we may want to buy. Watching games streamed live gives viewers the ability to not only watch someone play but also to learn about their strategies and tactics in real-time. Live plays give the community the opportunity to ask questions, in the moment, in a way that is hard to replicate in other formats.


Additionally certain games, through remote play resources, or changes to the ruleset, have the scope to be played with the viewers themselves. In the example of our roll and write game Welcome to Dino World, this can be as simple as sharing the dice rolled, and the objective cards onscreen. All of a sudden the solo game you are playing can become a 5/10/100 player game with relative ease. We’ve been enjoying seeing how other streamers have been approaching this and look forward to trying this out more ourselves.