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Roleplaying advocacy news and website updates for The Escapist.

Created by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Mon 15 of Dec., 2014 04:09 PST
(372 Posts | 1406968 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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Tell Me About Your Character: Rich Ostorero

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 16 of Dec., 2011 03:36 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview is up! This time, Rich Ostorero from Fresno, California tells us about himself. Read the interview here.

I'm glad to see a new interest in this series - if you'd like to see it continue, submit your own interview, or if you already have, spread the word!

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The Escapist is 16!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 15 of Dec., 2011 05:56 PST
It's the Escapist's 16th birthday, which means that it's old enough to drive itself to the local game store now!

As I usually end up repeating every December, I'm not completely sure when I uploaded the first HTML files for "The Gaming Advocacy Website" (as it was originally called for the first six months) back in December of 1995, so I've deemed the 15th as the official anniversary of the site.

I've put together a sort of year-end recap for 2011, for the benefit of those who don't follow the site very closely (Shame! SHAAAAAME!), or may have missed some of things that the site has covered in the last 12 months.

THE STATE OF THE ESCAPIST ADDRESS

The site's 15th year saw just a couple of changes: In November, I added a new resource: The Five Ws of RPGs, a page designed for gamers to share with non-gamers to help them understand the hobby a little better, located at www.theescapist.info. I also expanded the Atlas at the Young Person's Adventure League to include a bunch of new RPGs that are great to play with kids (though I'm still trying to catch up with some of the reviews!). Tell Me About Your Character is back after a long hiatus, with two new interviews - Perrin Rynning and John Enfield and a third that will be up tomorrow. (I'd really like to see this feature keep its new momentum, so if you haven't participated, please consider doing so!)

The site joined Google+ this year - if you're on G+ too, please add it to any of your RPG circles!

The biggest news of the year was the site's nomination for ENnie and Oggie awards! It didn't win the ENnie, but landed the Golden Ogre in the Oggie Awards! In other areas of recognition - The site's 404 page was listed as one of the best on Buzzfeed, and the Dark Dungeons page got a brief mention on Wil Wheaton's blog, which is something I've been trying to get him to do for years now.

BLOG RECAP

There were a lot of great stories to cover in 2011. Here's a recap, in case you missed any of them:

RPGS IN POPULAR CULTURE

A food blogger held a pizza party and played D&D with Robin Laws - NBC's Community aired an AD&D-themed episode, one of the prizes on an episode of The Price is Right was a trip to GenCon, a lifeguard submitted an article on roleplaying as a training technique called Rescues and Roleplaying, I found some great YouTube videos that reaffirm that yes, girls play D&D, the Write Anything blog examined RPGs as writing inspiration, my Origins 2011 report included a close encounter with the Secret Service, the Gary Gygax biopic was announced, I conducted an interview with the author of the D&D-themed stage play Of Dice And Men, John Kovalic commemorated the 1000th Dork Tower strip with a humorous look at how times have changed for roleplayers, Occupy protestors were found enjoying their favorite RPG in at least three different cities (1 - 2), Designers & Dragons - a detailed history of the RPG hobby - was released (and lists The Escapist in the resources section!), I discovered (a year too late) a collection of gaming-themed nerdcore music called 20 Sided Rhymes, and a classic RPG exhibit was unveiled at Duke library.

GAMES AND GAMERS IMPROVING THE WORLD

Several charity and humanitarian efforts were organized by gamers this year: there was help for victims of the New Zealand earthquake, the Wayne Foundation was formed to give assistance to victims of human trafficking and child prostitution, an organization in Israel called Romach works to help troubled youth through RPGs, the Random Encounter Kindness Bundle was organized to help a fellow gamer pay her medical costs, and an RPG called Legend helped raise money for Child's Play. One very touching story covered the emotional benefits of the hobby, in which a homeless gamer found escape from his troubles by creating a GURPS steampunk campaign.

RPGS AND EDUCATION / RPGS AND KIDS

Ben Garvey released an RPG game for very young children called Kids Dungeon Adventure, Kevin Makice simplified D&D for kids with D&Dish, and DriveThruRPG declared November 14th-21st to be Teach Your Kids to Game Week and invited your humble narrator to participate in the discussion. (I even made a post about the first RPG I ever ran for my own kids, and how I pulled it off.)

On the education front, an article from the Austin Daily Herald included a statement from a teacher who confessed to using D&D to teach gifted students in the 1980s, an interview with Language Arts teacher Larry Graykin about his educational role-playing game Diddorol, and Dr. Scott Nicholson announced an "improvisational storytelling activity" for large groups called Crossed Paths.

PARANOIA

Despite surviving the dark age of the 1980s, the roleplaying hobby still comes across the occasional resistance from a stubborn few - and sometimes, I find more relics of that era that I've never seen before, and share them in the hopes that they will make all of us less susceptible to irrational thinking.

A reader pointed me to a video that may be the origin of the myth that D&D minis scream when thrown in a fire, retired Virginia 'Cult Cop' Don Rimer hosts another seminar that reinforces some old anti-RPG myths, the Texas school board claimed that D&D promotes "death and violence", a pro-RPG message on the Focus on the Family message board eventually reveals that their "Castles and Cauldrons" anti-RPG radio message is still being aired regularly, remnants of satanic panic from an RPG.net user, and Tucson Weekly's nostalgia piece is a call back to a much more paranoid time.


...and that was 2011. Thanks to everyone who reads, shares, emails, Tweets, and comments on the site. Here's to a fantastic, adventure-filled 2012 for all of us! (Raises coffee cup.)

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RPG exhibit at Duke University

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 13 of Dec., 2011 10:17 PST
Duke University's Perkins Library will be hosting an exhibit of thousands of classic role-playing games from the collection of Durham residents Edwin and Terry Murray. The Herald-Sun has more on the exhibit:
The library will host a game night for the official opening of Duke’s Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games, comprising thousands of boxes dating from the 1970s to the present.

“It’s probably the largest role-playing game collection anywhere,” said Will Hansen, an assistant curator of collections at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “It’s definitely the largest ever made available to scholars and the public.”

The Murray brothers, who live in Durham, have been collectors of comic books, fanzines and other pop culture artifacts for more than 40 years. Edwin graduated from Duke in 1971 and the brothers have donated a series of their collections to the university, totaling around 100,000 objects.
Read the full article here. The event runs from 7pm-9pm this evening. (Sorry for the last-minute notice!)

It would be really great to see this sort of exhibit catch on, and maybe even tour the country's libraries and museums, so that others can see it as well.

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Tell Me About Your Character: John Enfield

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 09 of Dec., 2011 04:08 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview is up! This time, John Enfield from Las Vegas, Nevada tells us about himself. Read the interview here.

I'm glad to see a new interest in this series - if you'd like to see it continue, submit your own interview, or if you already have, spread the word!

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Read RPGs in public - from right to left!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 08 of Dec., 2011 06:51 PST
I always geek out when I find people discussing my website in other languages. It's always rewarding to see the ideas and projects presented here transcending the language barrier and spreading to other cultures around the world.

Over the years I've seen the site mentioned in blog and forum posts in French, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, but I think this may be a first: a gamer spreading the word about Read an RPG Book In Public Week in Hebrew!

(EDIT: I spoke too soon! Here's another that may be a first - someone sharing links to the 5 Ws of RPGs page, FAQ, and Why RPGs are Good For You video, in Thai!)



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20 Sided Rhymes - Nerdcore with a gaming theme

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 07 of Dec., 2011 10:03 PST
"If you're a player in the house, throw up a dee-twen-tee!"

I'm late to the game with this one, as I often am - but better late than never! 20 Sided Rhymes is a collection of nerdcore music with a mostly gaming theme - a great mix of rap, indie rock, chiptunes (music made with old school sound chips), and even a folkcore song. Most of the songs are about the joys of playing D&D - "20 Sided Rhymes," "Random Encounter in the Cereal Aisle," "Stat Sheet," "Roll the Dice," (which samples the classic D&D cartoon) and more - with a couple Magic: The Gathering tunes - "I Get Mana," "Hassle: The Dorkening", and Lord of the Rings and Zelda songs thrown in for good measure. It's also quite possibly the first ever album that includes a song about painting D&D miniatures ("Painting Guys").

Biggest surprise (for me, at least) was finding a song by our Good Buddy Nate ("The Healer's Song") without even knowing he was a part of the project. Long-time readers of the site may have heard me mention him before as a real-world friend, and an early and frequent contributor to the Escapist who still sends me articles and links from time to time.

All of this geeky goodness is yours for the time it takes to download, so there's no excuse not to head over to Hipster, Please right now and get your copy. While you're there, don't miss the cover images - the wicked-awesome front cover is both wicked and awesome, but you're missing out if you don't get the opportunity to chuckle at the equally wonderful back cover.

Oh, and for the record - I liked all of this music before it was cool.

(Be aware that most of the tracks in this collection contain explicit lyrics. Please listen with discretion.)

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Crossed Paths - an "improvisational storytelling activity" for groups

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 07 of Dec., 2011 04:32 PST
I discovered this on the Google Libgaming group - a diceless, GMless RPG for groups of five or more designed by Dr. Scott Nicholson. It looks like it would be a great activity for libraries, schools, or any large group of participants, and it's affordable - all the author asks in payment is feedback on your experience with it.

At the Minnesota Library Association, I created a new game called "Crossed Paths". I'm calling it an "improvisational storytelling activity" (but it's really an RPG - shh, don't tell them that until they've played it!)

It will play from 5 to as many people as you want, and will take about an hour to play the full game. It's a game to let people explore stories, books, comics, other games, TV shows, (you pick the setting) with each other.

Crossed Paths is a game that adjusts to many different settings and group sizes. Some of the possible uses are for:

· Libraries looking to create a more interactive version of a book discussion,
· Literature classes wanting to explore short stories, books, or other studied works,
· Churches seeking to encourage children or families to explore parables and tales,
· Communities wanting to explore any sort of folktales, legends, or other stories,
· Fans of a specific genre to further explore stories in that genre, or
· Groups wanting an ice-breaker where attendees can relive aspects of their favorite television shows or movies.

I've written up a facilitation guide with instructions, handouts, and bullets for slides and made it available under Creative Commons on my blog, Play Matters, at tinyurl.com/crossedpaths


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Review: Designers & Dragons

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 06 of Dec., 2011 10:25 PST
Shannon Applecline's Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry is a massive history book (the page count clocks in at 442) on the origins, growth, and development of tabletop roleplaying games, from the beginnings of TSR to the indie revolution. It is the product of years of research and interviews, presented in a very accessible style, making no assumptions on the reader.

The PDF covers the history of the hobby chronologically, but gives the reader the opportunity to explore at the end of each section, where there are short lists labeled "What To Read Next." Each of these lists present the reader with related games, companies, play styles, and other subjects from the previous section that may have caught the reader's interest, allowing the opportunity to either visit another section of the book, or forge ahead to the next one. It's subtly similar to choose-your-own adventure books, and gives the reader the sense of control and exploration that comes with actually playing the games that the book is devoted to.

Designers & Dragons takes us from the early days of TSR, Flying Buffalo, and Judge's Guild, through the turmoil of the satanic panic era of the 1980s and AD&D's second edition, past the CCG and D20 eras, and into today's indie revolution and retroclones. It is a fitting chronicle to our hobby, and I'm dying to have a dead-tree edition to put on my shelf with my other reference books.

Check out Designers & Dragons at DriveThruRPG

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Buzzfeed likes the 404 page!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sat 03 of Dec., 2011 05:57 PST
It looks like the site got another accolade while I wasn't looking - Buzzfeed listed the Escapist's 404 page as one of the Best Error Pages Online!

(If you've never seen the 404 page for this site - though with the amount of broken links and unfinsihed projects I have lying around here, I couldn't imagine how - you can view it here.)

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Two gaming charities that deserve your attention

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 02 of Dec., 2011 05:34 PST
Whenever I find more examples of roleplayers helping others in need, I'm always reminded of the words of William Schnoebelen in his essay Should a Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons?: "I would just ask them where are the rescue missions and orphanages started by D&D gamers?" I bring it up pretty frequently, but that's because I like to use that statement as inspiration to find as many examples as possible. The fact is, I find so many, that several end up falling through the cracks, and I never get around to reporting on them.

Here are two that crossed my radar recently, both of which deserve your attention:

The first is the Random Encounter Kindness Bundle, a fundraiser for Kelly, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, and has been hit with an enormous medical bill. For a small donation, you can help her cover her expenses and possibly get more help, and as a reward above and beyond helping a fellow human, you get an impressive bundle of RPG PDFs that includes Little Fears: Nightmare Edition, among many others. Find out more at ryanmacklin.com/projects/rke-bundle

The second comes to me from Michael Tresca - an RPG titled Legend by Rule of Cool Games that benefits the Child's Play charity, which provides toys, games, and books for hospitalized children. The game has already generated over $5000 as of this writing, and they are hoping to double it by Christmas. You can find out more about the game and how to participate at www.ruleofcool.com

Both of these have already gathered a lot of donations from generous gamers - but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't pitch in as well! Both causes deserve all of the help they can get!

There you go, Bill. Two more examples for you. Are you keeping track over there? Because I've lost count, myself...

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Tell Me About Your Character: Perrin Rynning

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 02 of Dec., 2011 04:46 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview - the first one I have posted in over a year - is up! This time, Perrin Rynning from the San Francisco bay area tells us about himself. Read the interview here.

This is the second interview I've received recently, and I discovered another in the vault that was never posted, so I'll have new interviews for the next couple of weeks. I'm glad to see a new interest in this series - if you'd like to see it continue, submit your own interview, or if you already have, spread the word!

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More Occupy roleplayers in Philly

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 01 of Dec., 2011 05:47 PST
Kotaku brings us the story - with a great picture - of another group of Dungeons & Dragons players at an Occupy protest, this time in Philadelphia. Read all about it here.

One Escapist reader was kind enough to point out that I didn't give a sufficient disclaimer the last time I posted about roleplayers at Occupy events. So here goes: In posting this, no endorsement or support of the Occupy protests is expressed or implied, and the information is only provided as part of the purpose of this website, which is to display references to roleplaying games in the real world, as sort of a "cultural acceptance" of RPGs. Dissenting views would be given equal time, if and when they are found by myself or submitted by others. (In fact, references to roleplaying games by conservatives have been covered on this site in the past, such as when Ann Coulter defended D&D, and a blogger on John McCain's staff derided gamers.)

That should do it. Now please mentally copy and paste the above paragraph on all future Escapist blog posts, replacing "Occupy events" with the appropriate subject. It will save me a lot of typing. Thanks!

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Games and Learning Dream Tank circle on Google+

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 30 of Nov., 2011 06:40 PST
Pete Figtree, educator and host of the Ruthless Diastema blogcast, is organizing a think tank to brainstorm ideas for using games to educate. Here's the idea, in Pete's own words:
So, I have a few big dreams for gaming (especially indie, but not exclusively) and education. These dreams are a large part of what gets me up in the morning. They may actually work in this order, but who knows.
1) Convention panels about how REAL games (not lame educational games) can be used for learning and in educational settings.
2) Professional Development Courses about how to use REAL (not lame educational games) in education.
3) A TeacherCon gaming convention both for gamer teachers and non-gamer teachers. All of the above can be showcased there along with great networking and fellowship.

But, we must dream and there is no way I can make this happen alone. I am especially terrible at planning and scheduling. I have never done a panel or lead serious prof. dev. before. But I WILL!

I think the first step is gathering interested forces.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP DREAM ABOUT THESE GOALS, PLEASE POST HERE TO BE ADDED TO MY "GAMES AND LEARNING DREAM TANK" CIRCLE. WE NEED TEACHERS, GAME DESIGNERS, AND ANYONE ELSE WHO FEELS THAT THIS IS A WORTHWHILE VENTURE AND WOULD LIKE TO HELP IN SOME WAY FITTING FOR HIM OR HER. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A CALL FOR DONATIONS OF ANY SORT. THIS IS A THINK TANK...A DREAMING TANK...A PASSION FORCE.

The context for these dream need not be confined to public school. This is about how our beloved hobby fosters learning, real learning.

You know how human nature is. If you join, others will join as well.
You can find his Google+ account here - If using games to teach is a subject that interests you, please consider joining his Games and Learning Dream Tank circle.

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A thousand words

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 30 of Nov., 2011 05:37 PST
Deviantart user zazb made this masterpiece:



...and I have nothing more to say. Except that I promised I'd link to his Deviantart gallery, so that you can enjoy his other works as well.

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The Escapist won a Golden Ogre Award!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Mon 21 of Nov., 2011 05:35 PST
The title says it all - my lil' ol' roleplaying advocacy website won the Golden Ogre in the First Annual Oggie Awards, hosted by the Quilt City O.G.R.E.s (Organization of Gamers and Roleplaying Enthusiasts).

Lots of thanks to everyone who voted, and to the O.G.R.E.s for the nomination! To see the full list of winners, visit the O.G.R.E. website.

Here's more about the "Oggies" from their website:
The OGRE Awards, most commonly known as The Oggies (after our mascot Oggie the Ogre), are a grouping of awards presented by O.G.R.E.s annually to leaders and members of the tabletop, card, live action, and party gaming industry for their products and services. Unlike other tabletop industry awards like the ENnies or Origin awards, the OGGIEs are not all limited to annual releases. Instead, they reflect the cherished games and people that members of O.G.R.E.s - around 3,000 across three countries - care for. The program began in 2010, and the first actual awards will be up for open voting beginning on September 1st, 2011.


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