When discussing story, it’s always good to consider who the audience of said story is. When talking about storytelling it’s equally as important to talk about who the story is being told to and why. But when it comes to TTRPGs, that differentiation merges together. Suddenly everyone at the table is a storyteller to some extent.
Today, we’re going to explore what audience means when discussing TTRPGs. Who is the audience and how is it any different from a typical one? Let’s find out!
Defining the TTRPG Audience
If I had to give a solid definition it would be:
Now that’s all well and good, but how do these audiences differ from other audiences?
There are a couple of definitions of audience to go through. For example, there is a clear difference between the audience at a rock concert and the audience in a cinema.
That is because the media being consumed functionally serves different roles and thus asks different things of it’s audience. It’s the same with TTRPGs which is to say we demand things from the audience.
When discussing literature we define the audience as the one who listens or the one the book is being geared towards. For example, the Hunger Games is clearly for a young adult audience (that’s not to say that older people don’t enjoy the books). Regardless of the medium, the audience actively shapes the creative process.
The clear difference between these mediums and TTRPGs is that the players also inhabit a role in the story. We aren’t just watching Katniss Everdeen fight against the Capitol, we are expected to be her and thus make decisions as her.
The audience in this medium creates the story by interacting with each other and somewhat writing it as it happens. Because of this, the audience can put emphasis on whatever they like. That’s why you hear lots of stories of sessions that are just shopping or just combat or just role-playing. Certain tables emphasis what everyone likes.
The players are the audience, and so they get to write whatever they want under the guide of the game master (or whatever equivalent).
On the topic of the GM, it’s important to note that they are also the audience. The world and general story is assisted by you mediating the table. Plus, if you’re not having fun it’s going to be a drag to play.
Future Talks about Audience
This post is part of a series of other posts coming out. Currently this is part one of who knows how many! In this series I want to tackle the complex nature of TTRPG storytelling in comparison to other mediums.
I feel like understanding audience and their tastes is an entirely different and chunky matter which I do aim to tackle (just not right now!). All of the other posts will be linked down here in order soonish!