Backstory

BACKSTORY is an ongoing series of interviews with game designers and other notable members of the role-playing community, hosted by Alex Roberts. This show is all about the person behind the work: how did they get into gaming? Why did they start designing? What are they most excited about for the future? Alex loves getting to know people, and you'll love coming along for the ride.

23. Whitney Beltràn

Game designer, writer, and consultant Whitney “Strix” Beltràn talks designing with fairy tales, role-playing with archetypes, and keeping mythologies alive.

22. Ben Schwartz

Professional organizer Ben “Books” Schwartz talks larping with kids, larping with different traditions, and larping when it’s your actual job.

21. Hakan Seyalioglu

What happens when you publish your own game from scratch? How do we welcome new players to the table? Game designer Hakan Seyalioglu on game publishing, community building, and the beautiful collision of the obvious and the unexpected.

20. Mark Richardson

Do maps make statements, the way games do? Game designer and cartographer Mark Richardson joins Alex to talk publishing games, being sober, and running Vampire larps in the ’90s.

19. Katherine Cross

What do digital and tabletop roleplaying have in common? Can worldbuilding in a game help us change the real world? And just what is the “real world” anyway? Scholar and critic Katherine Cross is here to talk digital citizenship, identity plurality, and more.

18. Ross Cowman

How do you teach analog game design? What makes a game “for kids?” How does the context in which we encounter games influence how we play? Designer and community organizer Ross Cowman talks design, play, music, and more.

17. Gabriel de los Angeles

What role can Larp play in education across the lifespan? Can it help us develop responsible, reciprocal relationships with our land, waters, and communities? Gabriel de los Angeles joins us to discuss his work integrating role-playing into STEAM education.

16. Jacqueline Bryk

Is Pokemon Go a larp? What’s the difference between torturing your characters and torturing your players? Can game design help you conquer your fears – or just spread them around a little? Larpwright Jacqueline Bryk is here to pose all these questions and many more. We may answer a few of them, too.

15. Kat Jones

Larpwright and theorist Katherine Castiello Jones talks sexuality, intimacy, feminism and other hot topics in game design. Can a game about painting your nails make a point about intersecting axes of oppression? We certainly think so.

14. Johanna Koljonen

Experience designer, broadcaster and author Johnna Koljonen joins us to talk about the difference between role-play and character play, between feeling safe and being safe, and between design and tradition.