While those of us who avidly play board games know the industry has undergone significant, even revolutionary, change and expansion in the last decade, it’s only recently more mainstream audiences and media outlets have started to take notice of the hobby and realize it’s comprised of infinitely more possibilities than games like Monopoly, Sorry, and Candy Land. Widely played titles like Catan and Ticket to Ride are now staples of big-box retail stores like Target and Wal Mart, and Barnes & Noble stores even offer a surprisingly encompassing selection for something many would still consider a niche market. Board games have started to find their way into pop culture as well, featuring in segments of the popular show Big Bang Theory, and helped along by efforts from celebrity Wil Wheaton and his web show Tabletop on Geek & Sundry.
As great as those inclusions are, however, I’m still waiting for a sitcom-style show that really puts board games front-and-center. Board games are, after all, generally social by nature, and one of the main reasons I play games and try to host game nights is to kick back and interact with friends in a competitive or cooperative environment, and partake in an activity that actually makes me use my mind. Given all the different personalities of people who show up at board game nights and the dynamics at play between them, what better setting for a comedy show about friendship than a perfectly (dys)functional group of gamers!?
Luckily for me, ErinRose Widner and Dean Donofrio thought so too, and in the next few weeks will launch their new web series The Great Indoors. Airing at 3-5 minutes long per webisode, The Great Indoors follows a group of geeks in their 30s who come together once a week for a board game night. The show is “about shamelessly indulging in the joys of childhood, while learning how to embrace your inner grownup. And it’s about friendship, because when you find your people, you find yourself.” Starring a great cast which includes Josh Sussman (Glee), Elisha Yaffe (Newsroom), Natalie Palamides (Powerpuff Girls), and even ErinRose Widner herself, the series is well-acted and well-produced, and is really a further testament to what those of us who Kickstart board games know: that smaller ventures/studios can produce some really stellar content that is worth your time and support.
Having recently moved away from my old game group I can honestly say I feel like I have lost a part of myself, so I think anyone who has had a long-running game group will really be able to relate to the situations and the characters in The Great Indoors. From the preview episode available on Youtube (embedded below for your viewing pleasure), and the extra content ErinRose and Dean were kind enough to share, I think the show is very human– board games, while at the forefront of each episode, are really just the centrifuge for the show’s main foci of the different quirky personalities we’re probably all familiar with at our own game nights, and how all those different people come together and interact thanks to gaming.
I just about lost it when Aaron (Elisha Yaffe) started explaining how long Lewis & Clark was going to take; the age-old adage “it’s funny because it’s true,” fits perfectly here. Plus, anyone who has tried to talk a newbie into playing anything above a light-weight game has seen that exact expression on Emily’s (ErinRose Widner) face . The segments of the show I’ve seen are filled with moments like that, so I’m really looking forward to soaking up the first season’s 19 episodes, and to seeing the direction ErinRose and Dean take the show in subsequent seasons. Who knows…maybe they’ll feature an aloof, guest board game blogger character who feels the need to clue people in on his analysis of the games as they play them and is, much to the chagrin of his wife, obsessed with Kickstarter. 😉
If you’d like to learn more about the show and its characters, and to watch for the official release which should happen soon, head on over to meeplesunite.com and take a look around!