I love games; I mean REALLY love games. And not just video games, I love games of all kinds: video, board, RPG, card, I love them all. I’m sure if athleticism hadn’t escaped my gene pool for greener pastures, I may love sports too. But as the daughter of an old school Dungeon Master, I was destined for my love of games. Even the things I watch involve games, so I decided to make a list of the best game shows (shows about games that is)available on streaming services or the internet to date. This list, however, does not include YouTube Let’s Players, that is a whole other list entirely.
VGHS (Video Game High School)
The mind baby of Freddie Wong, Matthew Arnold and Brian Firenzi and made by Rocket Jump, this is easily one of my favorite shows of all time. For a web series, it ran for quite a while at three multi-episodic seasons. The story follows Brian D (Josh Blaylock), an FPS gamer who beats the best player in the world, kind of by accident. After he beats The Law (Brian Firenzi), he gets invited to join VGHS. There he meets the girl of his dreams, Jenny Matrix (Johanna Braddy), his new best friend, Teddy Wong (Jimmy Wong), and his best friend’s girl, Ki Swan (Ellery Porterfield). He tries to navigate the new environment, get on the varsity FPS team, get his dream girl and try not to get crushed by The Law…who also happens to go to the school. This show is fun and hilarious. While it hits a serious note in season 3, I love every episode of this show. The most notable is S1EP2 “Any Game in the House” and S2E2 “You Can’t Stop a Sandwich.” It’s available to stream all three seasons on Netflix, Youtube or the Rocket Jump website.
Created and written from the fabulous mind of Felicia Day (Supernatural, Geek and Sundry), this show follows a character played by Day named Sid Sherman, aka Codex. She is an MMORPG player and she is very socially inept. She has a guild made up of Vork (Jeff Lewis), Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), Bladezz (Vincent Caso), Tinkerballa (Amy Okuda) and the incomparable Clara (Robin Thornsen). It tackles the guild finally meeting, unrequited love and getting your dream job. It was available on Netflix but has since been removed (anyone want to start a petition?) but is still available on YouTube. This is one of the best game shows out there.
Led by GM Matt Mercer, this Geek and Sundry show follows campaigns full of voice actors (including Ashley Johnson from The Last of Us). Mercer paints an amazing picture by his words and you can almost see the things he’s describing. The character profiles are intricate and the accents are wonderful. This one is a more traditional representation of tabletop and role-playing games and the campaign episodes run for sometimes over two hours. They have long episodic campaigns or one-offs. Critical Role is available on YouTube, VRV or you can watch the live stream Thursdays on Twitch.
This is one of my favorite game shows. While named after Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty), he is simply a player in a two season long campaign run by GM Spencer Crittenden. Alongside him are Erin McGathy and Jeff Bryan Davis. All three play as Fondue Zoobag, Beor O’Shift, and Boneweevil respectively. Each episode they have a new special guest player like Chelsea Peretti, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswald and Aubrey Plaza and is a mix of live action table footage and the animated campaign. It is immensely enjoyable and keeps you laughing. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get the Rick and Morty treatment and actually gets renewed for the next season. It is available only on VRV and only in the U.S. currently. If you’re a fan of Dan Harmon’s work, check out the latest news on Rick and Morty.
Tabletop with Wil Wheaton
The third Geek and Sundry show on this list, this is less RPG and more just friends playing board games. Wil Wheaton hosts a few friends to play together or compete against each other in a new board game each episode. Games such as Munchkin, Dead of Winter, and Last Day on Earth are included among many others. The episodes in the show are considerably shorter than the predecessors on this list and it’s a great way to learn about new games and learn how they are played in real time. It is available to stream on Youtube and VRV. If you like tabletop gaming. Geek and Sundry has another tabletop show called Game the Game, also available Youtube and VRV.
While this show only survived one season, The Quest was the LARPing of the game shows where 12 contestants get transported to Everrealm, where the kingdom is in danger. They were brought there to find the true hero to save the kingdom. There were trials and tests and the greatest part was that everyone stayed in character…through the WHOLE THING. Even the contestants treated Everrealm as if it were real and worked their hardest for the title. There is very little malice and drama between contestants which makes it a wonderful and wholesome experience for people who love RPG’s. It used to be available on Netflix but has since been removed and now is available on Youtube. This is one of those shows that unfortunately fell through the cracks but should be revived for more seasons.
There are SO many great game shows and movies out there and as I mentioned, this doesn’t even include all the amazing Let’s Players on Youtube and Twitch that stream and commentate every day to give us an enjoyable experience with our favorite games. A couple honorable mentions are the Hulu Original Futureman. While the video game is really only involved in the first episode, the importance of the game resonates through the entire series and I can’t wait for season two! What are some of your favorite shows based around games? Let us know!