My guest for Episode 7 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Hawke Robinson, founder of the RPG Research Project. Hawke discusses his early history in gaming, which dates back to the 1970s, and talks about choosing a career in recreation therapy, which allows him to use role-playing games in therapeutic settings. He details his work with the RPG Trailer, a mobile gaming unit that he drives to facilities to bring the gaming experience to those who would otherwise not be able to participate in RPGs. We discuss the challenges of collecting useful data on role-playing games, and explore opportunities for advancing knowlege and practice into the future.
Enjoy the seventh episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
My guest for Episode 6 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Susan J. Morris, a fantasy author and editor that is best known for her work editing Forgotten Realms novels for Wizards of the Coast and novels for Monte Cook Games. She has published multiple books herself and designed Dungeons & Dragons for Kids. She also wrote a writing advice column for Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog. In the interview, she spoke about how she started running roleplaying games and transferred that experience into her professional life. She speaks about growing up as a homebrewer of campaign worlds rather than relying on published content. She speaks about her experiences working with Wizards of the Coast and Monte Cook Games, and the unique challenges of working with new content in the Forgotten Realms. She details her work as an editor, and offers advice for those interested in publishing their work.
Near the end of our talk, Susan shared some words that I want to highlight below. She spoke about the challenge of being a writer because it is a task that does not often result in positive feedback. I think her words are vital for all of us involved in producing creative content:
If you’re not writing for yourself, you’re going to be very disappointed long-term. I think you need to write things you love and that you enjoy — and then you can share them with other people, but the enjoyment should come from the writing and from doing it for yourself. Everything else should be kind of secondary or you’re very dependent on other people’s opinions for your happiness and fulfillment, which I think is never a good way to go. Writing as it is has very few moments in which you get reinforcement.
Rogue One is wonderful addition to the Star Wars film library, which is now eight films spanning five decades. My enjoyment of all things Star Warsis well-documented, and I was happy to see Rogue One twice over the past week. If you can find a theater with the 70mm IMAX print, then go out of your way to see that; it’s an amazing experience! While I loved the new addition to Star Wars lore, there are several things about the ending of Rogue One that continue to itch my brain days later. And I feel the need to externalize those thoughts!
The rest of the article contains details about the plot and conclusion of Rogue One. If you have already seen the movie and wish to indulge in my nerd-brain madness, then please continue!
Rogue One Rocked
Before dissecting continuity concerns, I want to clearly state the things I enjoyed about Rogue One. The characters – and the actors portraying those characters – were excellent. There is not a weak link among the ensemble cast, and I appreciated the performances more on the second viewing. Riz Ahmed especially does great work infusing Bodhi with tortured nuance, and Diego Luna presents Cassian as a conflicted soldier who has been involved in too many traumatic situations. It seems clear the character of Jyn went through some revisions between the trailers and release of the film, and Felicity Jones puts herself up their with Carrie Fischer and Daisey Ridley as strong women in the Star Wars universe. K-2SO is voiced by the “fonging” wonderful Alan Tudyk, and channeled one of the greatest droids in Star Wars history, HK-47. The crew members of Rogue One all serve a purpose, and it reminded me of the unique personalities in the strike team in Predator.
They’ve gone rogue!
The visual and sound effects were stunning, and this includes the computer-generated performance of Grand Moff Tarkin. When Tarkin first appeared in the movie, I assumed it was a brief cameo. I was incorrect because Tarkin is a major character in the film. The scenes with him certainly passed the uncanny valley for me though his complexion seemed too dark and sickly. The computer-generated Leia at the conclusion of the film felt more unnatural to me, though it was still a cool moment. I am guessing the brightness of the room and the whiteness of her clothing made that a tremendously difficult shot to execute well. The sound in the IMAX version of the film was a delight, and the soundtrack felt like Star Wars.
My guests for Episode 5 of Ego Check with The Id DM are Adam Johns and Adam Davis from Wheelhouse Workshop, a two-man operation whose mission is to help youths in the greater Seattle area build social skills through the intentional and targeted use of tabletop role-playing games. Both Mr. Johns and Mr. Davis have advanced degrees and use tabletop roleplaying games to teach social skills to children with a variety of mental health concerns. During our conversation, they discuss their professional background and how they use games like Dungeons & Dragons to teach children perspective taking, frustration tolerance, creative problem solving, and cooperation. They demonstrate a method to increase collaborative storytelling during a RPG session, which leads to us all wearing carved-out pumpkins on our heads! They explain the business model for Wheelhouse Workshop, and their plans for expansion in the future.
Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post next year on January 3rd, 2017.
My guest for Episode 4 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Felix Mak, software engineer for Vicious Syndicate, which provides detailed data reports on competitive play in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Mr. Mak is also a Legend-ranked Hearthstone player and we spent approximately an hour together discussing many aspects of Hearthstone. He describes his role with Vicious Syndicate and how the Data Reaper Report has developed since it’s first installment in May 2016. He speaks about myths that have been debunked about Hearthstone through the Vicious Syndicate data reports, and describes his routine as a player seeking to become a professional. Mr. Mak provides some foundational tips for Hearthstone players, we talk about the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion and how it may shift the meta going forward.
Enjoy the fourth episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
Take a look at my previous Hearthstone content, and please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on December 20th, 2016.
As I read through Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things, I found myself thinking about many of the patients that I have worked with over the years in my role as a psychologist. Some of those individuals I have seen in an office setting, and others I have met in their homes. The patients have ranged in ages, shapes, and sizes – and they all presented with unique mental health concerns. I remembered many of them while reading through the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of Auri – a character that brilliantly illustrates and humanizes the qualities and struggles of those coping with anxieties, compulsions, and symptoms along the autism spectrum.
I also thought of my personal mental health challenges while reading.
If I taught a class in psychology, then I would have students read and process the material. As it stands, I encourage everyone to read the book – even if you haven’t read The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear. Those books provide some context for Auri’s story, but they are not required reading to benefit from the content in The Slow Regard of Silent Things that struck me on such a personal level.
Mental health, and by extension mental illness, is unfortunately stigmatized. Going to a therapist is viewed by too many as a sign of weakness. I discovered at age 16 that I wanted to be a counselor, and I was fortunate enough to start down that path early in college and never really look back. I have also been in therapy as a patient at times in my life and consistently during the past two years, primarily getting assistance with symptoms of anxiety.
My guest for Episode 3 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Teos Abadia, writer for companies such as Wizards of the Coast and Kobold Press. Mr. Abadia is very active in the Dungeons & Dragons community, and you might be more familiar with his Twitter handle, @Alphastream. He has been adding comments to my articles on the blog since 2011, and has been a wonderful source of support over the years. I’m proud to have him on the show!
We spent a great hour talking about publishing original content for roleplaying game companies and what it is like to be heavily involved in the Organized Play movement for Wizards of the Coast. We devoted the second half of the podcast to a discussion on diversity in RPGs including where the industry has come from and where it can go in the future. Our conversation took place about one week before the election, and some of it seems to foreshadow the results. For example, while getting into a question, I voiced the following:
It certainly seems over time it’s becoming more diverse and that’s a wonderful thing. I think with that it brings some challenges – and you could even connect this to political factors going on in our country right now. As there’s more diversity, there’s a segment of the population that was rather enjoying the status quo and privilege that was there with what was happening before, and now things are changing – and people don’t like change sometime so that’s bad.
If I could go back and edit myself, I would succinctly say, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” That’s a quote that has been going around a lot these days. I am considering writing a personal post about the election, but I may just keep things to myself; I need to think on it more. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Mr. Abadia and I discussing diversity in RPGs.
He also shares some tips for writers and designers looking to improve their work, and we close out the show by briefly reviewing our favorite Pearl Jam songs. Because Pearl Jam is the best of all things!
Enjoy the third episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on December 6th, 2016.