Kelly Carlin joins me to talk about her life as the daughter of famed comedian, George Carlin. She previously wrote a memoir, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George, which was published in 2015. She has earned a bachelors degree from UCLA and a masters degree in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Weaving in her psychological training, Kelly talks about her journey toward finding her own meaning while also managing the weight of her father's legacy. She speaks to basking in his glow as a child and later feel trapped in his shadow as an adult. She explores how we all go through confusion about our self-identity and how she pursued graduate education in psychology to further understand herself and the world around her. She talks about the powerful forces of "shame and greed" that hold us back and how we can overcome that to led meaningful lives.
Tomo Moriwaki talks about his career in videogame design and how his experiences led him to the latest endeavor, Epic Tavern. In Epic Tavern, players are tasked with building up a tavern to cater to adventure needs AND with sending those adventurers on quests. Tomo talks about his goals to design an engaging gameplay loop that encourages players to spend more time with Epic Tavern; it was fascinating to learn about the decisions that are made to create a successful gameplay loop that cultivates that "one more turn" feeling for players! He discusses obstacles to creating a game "like fantasy football for fantasty fantasy" and how the small team has overcome those challenges. Tomo educates me about the logic behind Epic Tavern gameplay, including the encounter system involved in questing.
I'm joined by Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler, two of the minds responsible for the wonderful Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer's Guide series. They talk about the latest entry, Wizards & Spells, and detail how they took the vast magical information in D&D and organized that into a clean framework for young readers (and us creaky adults!) to absorb. They talk about the joys of creating new Legendary Characters for the D&D universe and how choices were made to highlight specific spells and magical items. Stacy and Andrew speak about their contributions to all books in the series and explain how the books fit together to form a coherent and warm invitation to all readers to play D&D. They respond to the glowing reception the books have received by an audience ranging in age, and briefly mention plans for the next two books in the series. These books are a treasure for any fan of D&D!
Keith Ammann joins me to discuss his book, The Monsters Know What They're Doing, which provides highly-detailed tactical guidance for monsters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. He speaks about his interest in strategy games and how that influenced his approach to running gaming sessions. He discusses how to run monsters realistically to further engage players and make their achievement at the table more meaningful. We explore multiple aspects of combats including complexity, difficulty, and morality.
Dr. Connell comes back to Ego Check to talk about the developments in the therapeutic use of Dungeons & Dragons in therapy. She talks about how the game allows players to achieve personal growth through exposure. She offers insights into how to manage an improv-heavy campaign. We talk about balancing a professional life with hobby goals and values, and explore how to navigate the fatigue and burnout that can arise from generating content.
I'm joined by Elizabeth Kilmer (soon-to-be PhD) and Jared Kilmer, PhD this week as they discuss their use of Dungeons & Dragons in clinical settings with military veterans. They present how the therapy gaming groups are structured and the themes that come up during gameplay. They present examples from past sessions including stories of how veterans have processed through challenging emotional content with the help of in-game situations. They talk about their ambitions and plans to gather more data about their therapeutic D&D approach with veterans, and how they might expand this in the future with other populations.
Dr. Rachel Kowert is a psychologist with years of published research examining the mental health effects of video games. She details how her research has NOT supported a variety of commonly-held and spread myths about video games. She discusses her role as Research Director for Take This, whose mission is to decrease stigma while increasing the support for mental health in the game-enthusiast community and inside the game industry. She talks about her history as a video game player and how she manages her personal use of games and that of her young children.
Matt is the map designer for Loke Battle Mats, which has been releasing tabletop battle mats for roleplaying games in recent years. Matt talks about the origins for the product line and his inspirations while designing the maps. We discuss how Dungeons & Dragons and other systems have shaped Loke Battle Mats and how terrain has shifted in importance over the years for players. Matt shares his approach to preparing for games including routine use of a Dual-Dungeon Master technique. He shares excellent tips on getting the most out of battle mats and other terrain options!
Matt Dixon talks about his career as a freelance illustrator and his work in digital spaces leading to his work with Blizzard. He talks about starting on the World of Warcraft TCG and how he got hired again for the Goblins & Gnomes expansion in Hearthstone. He has been a contributing artist to Hearthstone since that time and talks about his creative process. He shares his influences and explores how technology has changed the way he approaches illustration. He talks about his need to bring "life" to an image and how he was drawn to computers and pixels at a young age. He speaks about specific illustrations completed for Hearthstone and what fueled their origin. He indulges me as we discuss one of my favorite pieces of art in Hearthstone, Hecklebot, and he references his earlier work on Annoy-o-tron as when Hearthstone "clicked" for him. We conclude by talking about his recent "speed paintings" and his stunning personal work on his series, Transmissions.
Elisabeth de Kleer is an award-winning documentary producer and director that has experience working in the true crime genre. She has been working for the past two years on the subject of Dungeons & Dragons in prisons, and is attempting to Kickstart a documentary on this subject. She joins me to talk about the inspiration for this project and shares some of the stories from the 100s of inmates and prison personnel that she has interviewed thus far. We also discuss the purpose of prison, and the challenges that exist for reintegrating back into society. I share with her my background as a survivor of a violent crime as my father was shot and killed in the line of duty when I was eight-years-old, and we discuss the murky waters of how society deals with individuals that commit violent crimes after they have served their time in prison. We explore the potential rehabilitative powers of D&D for inmates, and the extraordinary lengths they have gone to play the game while incarcerated.