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Created by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Wed 23 of July, 2014 08:08 PDT
(364 Posts | 1073139 Visits | Activity=2.25)
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Buzzfeed likes the 404 page!

Posted by WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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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RPGers occupy the Occupy events

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Sat 19 of Nov., 2011 05:42 PST
Last week, I posted a moving story about homeless gamers, one of whom finds an escape in his GURPS books. This week, in following the theme of spotting gamers in topical situations, my news feeds bring me not one, but TWO stories about D&D players at Occupy events.

Demotix: Occupy Tampa Day of Action Lightly Attended

Salon: I brought my kids to Occupy L.A.

Also, game designer Chris Pramas participated in an Occupy Seattle event, which inspired Wade Rockett to create this gamer-themed Occupy graphic:



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Teaching my kids how to play a roleplaying game

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 16 of Nov., 2011 07:12 PST

Though I am doing all I can to help promote it, I will not be directly participating in Teach Your Kids to Game Week. I hope that doesn't sound hypocritical, but my current circumstances prevent it - I've got a heavy work week, and my time off this week will be spent helping my partner Paula get a job, and working on some other time-sensitive projects.

Also, there's another reason - I taught my kids to how to play a roleplaying game a long time ago. In fact, I think I'll share that story, and maybe it will inspire someone else to do the same. And maybe that will count as participation.

It was a rainy day, not much different than today, and my daughters were cooped up in the house, watching the same DVD they'd watched maybe a hundred times. I had been thinking about trying some sort of simple RPG with them in the recent weeks, but I wasn't sure if they were really ready - Aylish was 5, and Nolah only 3. But they were already somewhat accustomed to interactive storytelling, since one of our favorite pasttimes involved me making up a bedtime story on the fly, with the two of them interjecting characters and places and names and events whenever I stopped for a moment.

So, I switched off the TV and told them we were going to play a storytelling game. Ignoring their moans of despair, I pulled my copy of Teenagers From Outer Space off of the shelf, and handed them photocopies of the character sheets to look over, so that they could choose a character that they liked. (Yes, I had copies all ready to go. Remember, I said I had been thinking about this!)

I had even prepared for the possibility that both would choose the same character - "Okay, fine, you're twin sisters. We'll just rename one of you. You look exactly the same, and everyone always gets you confused, even your parents!" But they both managed to latch on to different characters that they liked, based on the pictures on the character sheets. One of the benefits of running TfOS for kids is that the character sheets all have illustrations of the anime characters on them.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the setting of Teenagers From Outer Space, it's an anime-themed RPG based around teens from various planets (including Earth) who go to a high school in space and deal with typical teenaged-type situations, but in a more humorous and outer-spacey way.

Another benefit of the game is that it comes with play money that you can photocopy and hand out to the players as allowance, pay from their summer jobs, and so on. Which I did, and told my two teenagers from outer space that they had just received their allowance money, and were taking the public shuttle to Planet Mall

What's that? Explain the rules of the game to them? Tell them how the dice work, and what their skill ratings mean, and all that? Yeah, sure, I got around it eventually. But by giving them a character sheet with a cool picture on it, sticking some play money in their hands, and telling them where their characters were and giving them a place to explore, I thrust them into the story in a way that was irresistable to them. They couldn't help but start exploring, and looking for places to spend their money.

After poking around in some shops to find something interesting to buy, the girls noticed that some of the people wandering about the mall concourse looked odd - they were moaning, shambling around like zombies, and were blue all over (not that it's particularly unusual to see blue folks at Planet Mall, mind you).

Eventually, they came to the plot of the story - someone was creating a mind-control serum and sneaking it into a slushie machine in the food court - and the victims were trying to force others to drink the blue-colored slushie so that they could become blue zombies, too!

Once the real story was underway, my girls had an opportunity to use their skills. That's when I explained how the system worked, in the simplest possible terms - roll the dice, add the number on your sheet to the number you rolled, and if it is higher than the number I told you to beat, then you did it! Nolah, who couldn't read yet and was still pretty shaky with adding, needed just a little help here, so I just told her to count the dots on her dice. I told her how many dots she needed, and let her tell me if she had "rolled enough dots" or not. At one point, she was looking at her character sheet at the list of skills, asking me what all of them said, and what she could do with them - she was completely on board with the concept of an RPG, she just couldn't read the words yet!

Eventually, they took down the bad guy who was poisoning the slushie machine and trying to take over Planet Mall. Aylish surprised me with a bit of ingenuity when she said she wanted to get one of the slushies and dump it over her head so that she would look like one of the blue zombies, so they would stop trying to attack her. (I hadn't even thought of that! Of course, I let it work for her - how could I not?) The poisoned mallgoers all recovered from the mind-control serum, the bad guy was arrested by the Interplanetary Police, and our heroes even got a cash reward for helping catch him!

And that is the story of how I taught my kids - ages 5 and 3 - how to play a roleplaying game.

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Teach Your Kids To Game Week is here!

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 15 of Nov., 2011 05:21 PST



It's Teach Your Kids to Game Week! DriveThruRPG has set up a special page with excellent suggestions of RPGs to play with young people - and they've brought in a few very cool guest writers to share some suggestions on running RPGs for kids!

I'm also unveiling something here as well, in honor of this special week. For some time now, I have been revamping the Adventurer's Atlas of the Young Person's Adventure League, adding several new kid-friendly RPGs and reorganizing the entire section. It's not quite finished yet, but I'm hoping to have it up very soon. So keep an eye out for it.

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Homeless gamers

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Sat 12 of Nov., 2011 06:50 PST
In Life Out Here, an article for the Harvard Crimson, Samuel F. Wohns spends some time talking to two homeless men, Justin and Ralph, about their experiences living on the street - "spanging" (begging for spare change), making shelters out of tarps, trying to hold on to their personal possessions, and other day-to-day challenges.

It's a life with very few healthy escapes - but Justin has one that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol:
With his legs extended and his back against the wall, Justin reads instruction books on different systems for hours at a time. In recent weeks he has been developing a Generic Universal Role Playing System (GURPS) campaign of “high fantasy with steam punk and sonic elements, as well as traditional magic and swords and sorcery.”

...

Living on the street, he does not have as much freedom as he used to, he says. But in GURPS he calls all the shot and makes all the rules; it’s a drug-free escape from a life where he can’t even choose his own bedtime to a world where he’s in charge of everything.


Read the full article here. (Due to mature themes and coarse language, reader discretion is advised.)

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Two upcoming events: National Gaming Day and Teach Your Kids to Game Week

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 10 of Nov., 2011 15:09 PST

This Saturday, November 12th is National Gaming Day @ Your Library. Check with your local library and see if they are participating. If not, ask if they'll let you volunteer, or if they'd like you to organize something for them next year. For more information, visit ngd.ala.org. (Thanks to Michael Tresca for the reminder!)

Right after that, Teach Your Kids to Game week starts on Monday November 14th. This is a new event organized by the folks at DriveThruRPG to encourage parents and other grownups to get kids involved in roleplaying games. They've invited me and Kevin Kulp to contribute essays for their weekly newsletter, and they'll be featuring great RPGs for kids. To find out more, see their newsletter (the current edition will be live soon), and their Facebook page.

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The Five Ws of RPGs

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 10 of Nov., 2011 14:17 PST


For a little while now, I've been working on a something - a page that I hope will become the go-to page for anyone who is trying to explain the roleplaying hobby to others, without getting into too many complexities, talking down to anyone, or getting bogged down with the urban legends and other negative stuff.

I finished it up today, and I'm hoping to get some input on it from experienced roleplayers and newbies alike. You can find it at www.theescapist.info (external link)

If you like it, please consider linking to it and spreading the word!

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Dork Tower's 1000th strip

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 04 of Nov., 2011 17:00 PDT
Dork Tower recently hit the 1000 strip mark, after 15 years of publication - and to celebrate, John Kovalic did something of a call back to a classic strip:





Congratulations John, and here's to 1000 more strips!

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Random Article Table: Slaying stereotypes, roleplaying soldiers in Iraq, and more

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 02 of Nov., 2011 08:56 PDT
October is always a busy time for me, and this year was no different - which means I have another backlog of articles to post to the Escapist blog! So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

Slaying the Stereotypes - Following in the tradition of positive RPG coverage in college newspapers and websites, Jason Krell writes about the roleplayer stereotype at the Daily Wildcat, the news organization of the University of Arizona. Read his full article here.

Soldiers escape to magical world - This article from DVIDS, an organization that provides news for and about the military, explores a group of roleplaying soldiers based in Cob Adder, Iraq, and the benefits to teamwork and camaraderie that tabletop roleplaying games provide.
“Everyday I walk around post as Pvt. Anderson, but a few times a week I get to be Zander, the magic-user, and fight on the various quests he is on,” said Anderson. “For those few precious hours I get to forget the day-to-day worries of a solider and be somebody else; and at least in my head, be somewhere else.”
Read the full article here.

Interview with the LARPer - The Onion's AV Club featured an interview with Anne Zellmer, Head Storyteller of a Mind's Eye Theatre LARP group based in Milwaukee. It's an interesting look at the challenges of organizing such a club, trying to draw new players into it, and creating stories in a fictional world that has gone out of print in the real world. You can read the full article here.

CNN Geeks Out on RPGs - And last but most certainly not least, CNN Geek Out featured an interview with Enrique Bertran (NewbieDM) about his made-for-kids RPG titled (appropriately enough) RPGKids, and the benefits of playing RPGs with young people. You can read all about it here.

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