There are, however, a few shining exceptions to this rule. The Acquisitions Inc. "celebrity" games held at the PAXes are one example, as are some of the RPGs featured on Geek & Sundry. The appeal of these examples, however, relies in large part on the participation of notable members of the geek glitterati.
Well, recently I was directed to another exception to the D&D spectatorship rule. I have started listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, which was created by the McElroy's who also host My Brother, My Brother and Me over on Maximum Fun.com.
In the Adventure Zone, Griffin, Justin, and Travis McElroy are joined by their father as they dive in to 5th Edition D&D. Most of them have zero to limited experience with D&D, and Griffin is a first time dungeon master. They begin with the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure before spinning off into a homebrewed plot set in the Forgotten Realms.
I regularly find myself laughing out loud in my car as the podcast plays during my commute, and have even sat for a few moments in the parking lot from time to time, just to hear a little more. The guys are definitely beer and pretzels-type gamers with a solid presence on the radio. The combination of table banter, humorous character choices, good radio presence and a willingness to not worry about genre makes this podcast highly listenable.
As a bonus, the Adventure Zone also solicits the names and ideas of listeners for use in their world. This has given rise to such characters as Magic Bryan, the drow, Johan the sad bard, and Davenport the gnome. I'm currently about 8 episodes in to what is currently a 15 episode run with new 'casts released every 2 weeks. So, if you need a nerding fix that you can enjoy while you work or drive, I highly recommend getting into The Zone.
Episode 1: of The Adventure Zone