Actual Play Artists Deserve More Recognition Industry-Wide

Ned Donovan
4 min readMar 23, 2022

This article also appears on my Website and Linkedin.

It seems like every other day, there’s a new article about the latest big-name Actual Play series, or how Dungeons & Dragons or their parent companies are making a comeback. Although these stories are interesting and important, they often lack one key perspective: that of the people who made it possible for this content to exist in the first place. I’m talking about the gamers, streamers, and podcasters who started when this form of art was just beginning — all of whom deserve more recognition for their work. You can’t talk about the resurgence of tabletop gaming without acknowledging those who have been pushing ttrpg storytelling to the forefront. These unsung heroes of gaming culture don’t receive the appreciation they deserve industry-wide, despite reviews, awards shows, networking events, and conventions popping up for seemingly every other web-based art form. It’s time for that to change.

How Do We Encourage and Support Actual Play Artists?

We can start by looking for and paying attention to Actual Play content from smaller channels. We can also share this content on social media and mention the creators in articles about tabletop gaming. When writing an article about a tabletop RPG, consider linking to or embedding Actual Play content which showcases that system. Alternatively, you could write a couple of sentences discussing the content that the system has been used to create. Why does Gen Con, the world’s foremost convention for tabletop gaming, not have an Actual Play networking event? These are storytellers, actors, comedians, writers, and more. They are trailblazing one of the most exciting new mediums in fiction. The industry should do more to celebrate that.

Expanding the New Jersey Web Festival…Again.

In 2021, I worked with Neem Basha and the NJWF to expand their top-rated web series film festival to include Fiction Podcasts for the first time. A hill I am willing to die on each and every day is that the definition of Fiction Podcasts includes Actual Play content. We instantly received a fantastic response from the community, shattering our submission goals by over 300% and setting ourselves up for an incredible year one. Almost immediately after we announced, I received numerous emails and DMs from people asking if their livestream was eligible. We didn’t have the infrastructure to support that at the time, but we were focusing on audio-only Actual Play content. It also didn’t feel right to nominate podcast performances against livestream performances. So in year one, we had to say no.

However, that decision didn’t feel right to us. We were, at our core, a festival celebrating web-based content. We started as a Web Series festival, and what is an Actual Play livestream if NOT a web series? It’s a story, told over episodes, that is released and consumed on the internet. It became clear during our September 2021 event that we had to expand again. Now, in 2022, our festival is expanding again. This time, we are adding livestream content to the event. Our four-day event will include screenings, panels, workshops, and networking events where we will highlight this incredible group of creators. Additionally, our awards festival will have unique nominations designed for this art form as well as categories where Actual Play podcasts and livestreams will be in head-to-head competition. Actual Play streamers deserve the film festival experience, and we’re ecstatic to be the first to bring it to them!

Submit for our Judges Today!

Our judges have already selected two fantastic livestreams as early acceptances to our festival. “Advantage in Paradice”, produced by Paradice Productions, was our first acceptance, and “Lost Across the Fence”, submitted by @superdillin, was our second. Additionally, Dice Shame, and 2021 NJWF award-winner Party of One have been selected as the early acceptances for Actual Play Podcasts.

Advantage in Paradice, by Paradice Productions
Lost Across the Fence, by Superdillin

Interested in adding your show’s names to the two incredible streams mentioned before? Submissions for the 2022 New Jersey Web Festival are open until June 12th. As a promotion for our first year of offering this kind of content, our “Late Deadline” did not increase fees across the Actual Play Livestream category. If you have a stream you’d like to submit you can do so through FilmFreeway. If you’re a fan of a stream you think our judges should consider, be sure to tell them to submit before the deadline!



Ned Donovan

He/Him • Actor • Producer • Co-Founder Audition Cat, Charging Moose Media, Play+1 • Board Member New Jersey Web Festival •