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Player Character - Ryan Hartman

"Family board game night is a thing for a reason. I'm excited for this tradition to grow in our house."

Meet Ryan Hartman, the man who makes PAX and made his D&D debut with Penny Arcade as Donaar Blit'zen on Acquisitions Inc. The C Team.

Player Character Level 1, Episode 2.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

  • Ryan Hartman

  • Elyssa Grant

  • Penny Arcade

  • @bernadettemeeke

  • @encifer

  • @mattwhodraws

  • @nurse_normal

  • @robinachilds

  • @doonami

  • @elithecartoon

  • @iscaneus

  • @kaldrenon

  • @knitpixy

  • @maxwellsdaemon

  • @shinybatgirl

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Player Character Spotlight - The Ambassadors

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Robin and Kristen Levins live in Austin, Texas with their seven year old daughter. I met them at BGG.Con in Dallas this year, where I found out that their attendance is an annual tradition 11 years running! They’ve got my humble four years doubled and then some!

Impressed with their streak, I asked a little about their gaming initiation, and their stories were in line with many modern initiation tales:

“I always played board games when I was younger – whatever we could find at a garage sales or at my grandmother’s house.” Robin explained.

He was first introduced to Settlers of Catan by a friend in college, and knew that tabletop was a hobby he wanted to become more involved in once they started building up a shared collection of games to play as a group.

Kristen, who is originally from Mississippi – played a lot of Mall Madness and Scategories growing up, like many of us.

“My Junior year of college, I walked in on a group of people playing a modified game of Risk (over two boards) and immediately felt like I had found my people.” She explains.

A web developer at a security company, Robin has successfully introduced elements of the hobby to his peers at work through social gaming, and fun activities like their fantasy movie league, in which players draft upcoming productions based on group viewing of the trailers, and eventually compete comparing box office success of their picks.  

Kristen, an Attorney, works to ensure that the low-income population of Texas have access to the court system.  Something that she is tremendously proud of is the creation of a modular, interactive 126-person poverty simulation that guides attorneys through several scenarios spanning a month in the shoes of a person with low-income. The simulation was created as a re-imagining of similar national-scale programs, but was designed specifically to reflect local laws and conditions, and to be used as a training and professional development tool at law schools and bar associations state-wide. It was developed in large part based on her knowledge and experiences with decision making in modern gaming.

“Imagine you have to go to work, but you have a court appearance at the same time. Or, you’re at work and your kid gets sick, but you don’t have a job with flexible hours. If you don’t stay at work, your paycheck will be cut… so there are a lot of real-world decisions to be made. It’s my favorite thing that I do at work.”

In addition to introducing gaming to their workplaces, the Levins host a weekly board game night for 12-14 people that is typically spread over three tables. Not everyone is a traditional gamer, but they do a fantastic job of providing a good experience for even casual players.

“Just about anybody who is half-way interested in games will play a Spiel des Jahres winner. It seems to me that this hobby is one that is kind of unique, in that it drives such an intense passion that people travel around the country to conventions, set up weekly meetups, and the like.” Robin explains.

“I am married to the person who is the most amazing game-master and rules explainer in the history of the world!” Kristen states emphatically.

It’s true that Robin usually describes rules to their friends and family, and has DM’d for the group’s Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in the past.  

“I like being able to get everything together and make things happen so others can enjoy games.” He says. “A good crowd with a bad game tends to be better than a bad crowd with a good game. Good friends having a great time around the table overcomes lesser titles more than the inverse.”

In addition to their play sessions at home, the family has started a new “summer kick-off” tradition that involves bringing their seven year old daughter and Kristen’s mother to BGG Spring once school ends.

“We’ve tried to be more intentional with gaming together.”

 

 

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Player Character: Satine Phoenix

"I understand the power of connecting with people. [...] [D&D] has helped me with my PTSD and coping with a lot of things in life that are very intense."

Meet Satine Phoenix, legendary Dungeon Master, Community Manager, charity enthusiast, and so much more...

Player Character Level 1, Episode 1.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

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Player Character Spotlight - The Entrepreneur

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“I had an everyday job until two weeks ago.”

Omari Akil hails from Durham, NC, home to what he describes as a really solid gaming community, and within that: a great design community. It is the birthplace of his company, Board Game Brothas, which was developed from an offer to help his brother design a game he had an idea for.

“I didn’t do tabletop games for a long time. I was only playing video games until about 5 years ago, when I found a meetup for a weekly game night at a coffee shop.”

Once Omari began frequenting the weekly meetup, he discovered a group of people who welcomed him with enthusiasm. It was there that he first encountered modern gaming, which reshaped what he thought board games were, and what they could potentially be. He recalls his first encounter with the Dungeons & Dragons Board Game Lords of Waterdeep:

“That game shifted EVERYTHING in my brain.”

While Omari and his brother didn’t intend on starting a company initially, it made a lot of sense once they got the ball rolling.

 “I was accidentally in that world and didn’t really know it.”

Once he started talking about designing a game in his new group of friends, he quickly realized that he was in the company of people who could advise him along his journey. After a year and a half of designing, and successfully funding their first Kickstarter, Omari has now begun working at Board Game Brothas full time to keep the momentum going.

His inaugural offering is a hip-hop themed strategic storytelling game called Rap Godz that puts players in the role of an up and coming hip-hop artist on their path to greatness.

“Our thinking is that we want to make games that touch cultures that aren’t getting touched, ones that we identify with and can speak to. We have another game called Graffiti Knights coming out that plays off urban culture, and digs into things that we are comfortable and familiar with.”

We spoke at length about inclusion in gaming, and how tabletop becoming more mainstream has led to an influx of new gamers from different backgrounds and experiences, and whether or not we thought that was a good thing (since many hobbies are wary of becoming too commonplace to stay ‘niche’).

“I’ve been exposed to more communities in the last year where it’s definitely happening. I think it’s changing. I hope so. It starts with the games. Making games more accessible in lots of different ways – not just the themes or the cultures represented, but also in the play style. We’re getting more diversity there, too. Being able to bring a diverse set of games so people can find something they attach to is helpful when onboarding new gamers.”

He also pointed out that a lot of people are very resistant to board games, explaining that maybe it feels like a “classic” thing to a lot of people, like something people used to do, or something meant only for kids.

“The resurgence of games as something more, hasn’t been widespread, yet… but I think that’s changing.”

You can find Board Game Brothas online at the following links:

https://www.boardgamebrothas.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BGBrothas

https://twitter.com/BGBrothas

https://www.instagram.com/bgbrothas/

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Get the Game - Ghostbusters: The Card Game

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Get the Game - Ghostbusters: The Card Game

Get the Game helps you understand games and accessories that are taking the world by storm. Whether you're a gaming veteran, tournament champion, or you've just dipped your toes into tabletop gaming, everyone is welcome to tune in and learn how to craft the play experience that's right for them.

Follow/Subscribe to Active Player Network to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes and game giveaways:
YouTube
Facebook 
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Host: Anne Richmond
Twitter: @annerichmond
Instagram: @hearthsinger

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Player Character Spotlight - The Dungeon Master

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Meet Joey, aka Jero. Joey is a professional DM, or Dungeon Master, which is somebody who runs games for people, enabling them to experience them to the fullest effect. While he primarily runs games of Dungeons & Dragons, he has also provided his services for games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Pathfinder, and several other Role-Playing Games, or RPGs.

“I’ve always had a talent for speaking to people openly, and for describing different scenarios to people from different backgrounds with different understandings. I came from a household that was very traditional, but I grew up in an area that is very, very progressive – so I knew both ends of everybody, and how to best word things in order to make it accessible and provide better understanding for people in general.”

Joey DMs online, and has clients from all over the world. He’s recently worked with gamers from Malaysia, Russia, and of course many here in the states.

“I pride myself on being able to explain the rules to everybody and get them acclimated to the game as quickly as possible in a very simple way. People tend to think these big book games are very complicated, so it’s nice to be able to simplify for them.”

Growing up, Joey played lots of classic games with his father; one of their favorites was Stratego. From there, he started dabbling in RPGs, which is when he realized he could tailor other gamers’ experiences to ensure they were having a good time. That’s when he dove headfirst into DMing.

“When I’m not DMing, I’m thinking about the next game I’m going to be DMing.”

When I asked how one starts down the path to becoming a Dungeon Master, he explained it eloquently:

“To be a DM, you need to be patient, and understand that people are doing what they need to do in order to enjoy themselves, but also be able to pull back and remind them that the experience is shared and designed for everybody as a whole, not just them. The biggest issue DMs have is sincerely enjoying supplying an experience for everyone else. If you don’t enjoy all the work that goes into it, then don’t DM. It’s not for everybody, it’s for the person who really loves watching everybody else enjoy something.”

Joey works two full time jobs that add up to nearly 85 hour weeks and provide little gratification or inspiration. The interactions and satisfaction that DMing provides makes them tolerable, he says.

“I think everybody is seeking some sort of escape in their life. I can’t imagine the type of life someone could live where they don’t want something else, something great, something fantastic. D&D and other RPGs provide that without the possibilities of harmful or ill effects in the real world.”

He attributes the influx of diverse players and the rise of popularity of gaming to communities forming online, citing that the stigma of ‘the nerd’ has given way to gamers curating their identities online among people they don’t always need to see in person, which frees them to act like themselves and interact with people like them without fear of judgement. The courage it takes to let down your guard and role-play with others is something he celebrates and impresses upon his clients: 

“Stop caring what everyone else thinks. Sit down and enjoy yourself. The entire purpose of D&D is to have fun, the same as any other game.”

He explained that D&D players almost always base one small aspect of their characters on their own personality. When players realize that they share a lot of the same experiences or problems with others, it brings them closer together. He believes that nowadays, people don’t experience or share their emotions very effectively, and sees value in providing catharsis.

I feel bad saying, ‘I love that I made them cry’… but I love that I made them cry.”

You can find Joey online at the following links:

https://www.patreon.com/jeroforusall

https://www.twitch.tv/jeroforusall

https://twitter.com/jeroforusall

Would you or someone you know like to be featured in a future Player Character Spotlight? Click HERE for details on how to apply!

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Get the Game - Root by Leder Games

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Get the Game - Root by Leder Games

Get the Game helps you understand games and accessories that are taking the world by storm. Whether you're a gaming veteran, tournament champion, or you've just dipped your toes into tabletop gaming, everyone is welcome to tune in and learn how to craft the play experience that's right for them.

Follow/Subscribe to Active Player Network to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes and game giveaways:
YouTube
Facebook 
Twitter 
Instagram

Host: Anne Richmond
Twitter: @annerichmond
Instagram: @hearthsinger

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Board Game Overview: The City of Kings

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Board Game Overview: The City of Kings

The City of Kings is a cooperative adventure roleplaying board game for 1-4 players in which your character is tasked with tactically exploring the hazardous world surrounding the City of Kings, trading for vital resources in nearby villages, and battling your enemies whilst uncovering a story of a world imperiled.

Watch our chat with designer Frank West at Gen Con 2018.

Host: Anne Richmond
Twitter: @annerichmond
Instagram: @hearthsinger

Follow/Subscribe to Active Player Network to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes and game giveaways:

YouTube
Facebook
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Get the Game - Ultra Pro Accessory Preview

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Get the Game - Ultra Pro Accessory Preview

We got a sneak peak at some amazing accessories headed to your table from Ultra Pro!

Get the Game helps you understand games and accessories that are taking the world by storm. Whether you're a gaming veteran, tournament champion, or you've just dipped your toes into tabletop gaming, everyone is welcome to tune in and learn how to craft the play experience that's right for them.

Follow/Subscribe to Active Player Network to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes and game giveaways:
YouTube
Facebook 
Twitter 
Instagram

Host: Anne Richmond
Twitter: @annerichmond
Instagram: @hearthsinger

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