Anyone who is a Dungeons and Dragons fan will know that it’s hard to avoid Critical Role.

Therefore, we can’t begin to talk about the impact of the digital age on D&D without discussing their success.

The Show

Critical Role, for those who don’t know, is a live stream hosted on the Geek and Sundry twitch channel every Thursday. They are by far the best D&D stream going and have been streaming for four years now. The show consists of eight close friends and voice actors (shown below) coming together and playing their ongoing campaign exactly as they would behind closed doors.

Critical Role Panel

The Critical Role cast. From left to right: Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, Laura Bailey and Matthew Mercer.  Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Due to the fact they’ve been playing together for years, the chemistry they have is incredible. Every episode is intense, dramatic, hilarious and gripping. They have created the most exciting and professional Dungeons and Dragons stream to date. As a result of this, the community have labelled Matt Mercer as a dungeon mastering god and has become the role model for many aspiring DMs.

The Numbers

Critical Roles massive success on twitch has lead to a massive number of people engaging with the Geek and Sundry channel. As it currently stands, the Geek and Sundry twitch channel has 551,000 follower and their youtube channel is at 1.9 million subscribers. Admittedly, they don’t only stream Critical Role. They have a whole host of content for viewers to watch all centred around video game culture. However, according to sullygnome.com (a site centred around twitch statistics), an average of 34,000 people tune in to Critical Role every week.

Geek and Sundry Viewership Graph

A graph showing the peak viewership of each game on the Geek and Sundry channel. Orange is Dungeons and Dragons. Source: sullygnome.com.

Because of this, they’ve managed to raise an immense amount of money for various charities over the years. For those who also don’t know, Geek and Sundry donate all of their channels donations to charity. 826LA is their main charity of choice, an amazing collection of people helping children develop their writing skills. Back in May of 2018 alone they raised $100,000 for the charity. During the first year of streaming they contributed to over 20 charities as well.

The Impact

Clearly, the Critical Role stream has been nothing but positive for the D&D community. It’s clear they set out to do nothing but good with the massive amounts of money heading to charity every year from them. Whilst it might be hard to gauge how many new players have been introduced to the game through Critical Role, it’s obvious that at least some have been. They’ve done a huge amount to ‘normalise’ the game. Celebrities such as Vin Diesel have been filmed playing the game with them. Many people have quoted Critical Role as their inspiration to start their own campaign stream as well.

I’ve not even touched upon the vast amount of small businesses, artists and creators they’ve helped find their place. During their stream breaks, hundreds of different artists have had their artwork featured. Wyrmwood Gaming and Lootcrate are just two of the businesses they are affiliated with and they have no doubt been lucrative for both parties.

The story of Critical Role is one with filled with passion for the game and love for the community. The digital success of Critical Role is unprecedented. They’ve pathed the way for many others to follow and spread the game to far corners of the globe. The internet has played a massive part in their journey, without it, this feat wouldn’t have been achieved. Critical Role were given a quest in 2015 to make Dungeons and Dragons popular again, and they’ve completed it with flying colours.

 

Links:

To find out more about Critical Role: https://critrole.com/

To find out more about 826LA: http://826la.org/