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:
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