David M. Ewalt

David Ewalt

Author of Dice and Men

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 24, 2015

Discussion

David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
Hello, everyone! My name is David, and I'm the author of a book called Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It. I'm also a contributing editor to Forbes Magazine, where I've written about games and the tech business for a decade, and edited some of the magazine's most popular lists, including the annual "Fictional 15" and "30 Under 30 in Games." Let's talk about why D&D is so important, the future of the game industry, what you like to play, or about anything else!
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
VR: Will it ever hit the mainstream and if so, how long do you think it'll take?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@russfrushtick VR will absolutely go mainstream, and it will do it soon. I recently saw some projections that said by 2020, VR viewers will be in one in four homes --that includes mobile VR products like Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard, not just the high-end headsets like Vive and the Rift, but it's still a very strong start.
Lukas Fittl
Lukas Fittl@lukasfittl · Product Hunt
@dewalt I'm curious about your perspective on computer games. To me it feels like there's a bit of D&D in many computer games, but that the essence of why its awesome is still best suited for offline, in-person, play. Whats your take on offline games vs playing in the digital world? Can one 1:1 translate a game's concept to an online version? (like many table top and board games are translated today)
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@lukasfittl I'd argue that there's a bit of D&D in almost every computer game. The creators of D&D invented many concepts that you see everywhere in video games, from hit points to characters that persist over time and level up. But yes, there's something about D&D that just can't be replicated in a digital game. It's the feeling you get when you can see and smell and feel the other players, creating a shared experience that requires close physical connections. When you get that, it lights up your brain like few other activities can. None of this means that digital games can't be amazing and fun and provide an excellent translation of a physical experience. But none of them will ever quite replicate the experience of crowding around a table with your friends.
Lukas Fittl
Lukas Fittl@lukasfittl · Product Hunt
@dewalt Awesome, thanks for the great answer! :)
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@dewalt What do you think of Peter Molyneux and do you think Curiosity accomplished anything that will be remembered ten years from now?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@jeffumbro I think Molyneux is one of the most talented and interesting video game designers working, which is why it's particularly frustrating to see projects like Curiosity (and Godus, and Fable, and I could go on...) fail to live up to their promise. I hate to say it, but I think Curiosity's legacy is going to be as a reminder to consumers that they should be wary of big promises, and to think twice before they crowdfund new games.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Services for startups
@dewalt Hey David, thanks for doing this :) Who was the most interesting and unexpected person you came across playing dungeons and dragons?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@bentossell D&D is one of those hobbies that seems to cater to interesting people --it would be impossible to choose a single person who stands out. I've met a billionaire who escapes corporate culture by pretending to be a barbarian on the weekend; a librarian who uses D&D to get kids excited about books; a single mom playing the game as a way to bond with her kid; countless people, each with their own story to tell. The great thing about D&D is that you get to connect with those people in a really unique way, bond with them quickly, and learn who they really are. One of the most "unexpected" people I met was Lorraine Williams, the woman who ousted D&D creator Gary Gygax from his company, TSR. A lot of people in the hobby really see her as a villain for that, so I was surprised to find her a sympathetic character.
Teresa Hammerl
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi David, how did you become a contributing editor to Forbes Magazine?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@colazionearoma The secret to getting a good job in journalism is to develop subject matter expertise --there's lots of people out there who can write, but not so many who know what to write about. I landed my first job because I was a computer nerd; I knew all about tech, so I got hired by an information technology magazine. Working there, I learned about the companies that make tech, and that got me a job at Forbes. I worked there for nine years before I published my book. Now I write for lots of different outlets, including Forbes, and I'm working on new book projects.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What are some of the most interesting gaming stories happening today?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@eriktorenberg Virtual reality is probably the most exciting thing happening in gaming right now; I've had some incredible experiences recently on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Another big story is the explosion of interest in e-sports, and the big crowds that show up to watch live video game tournaments. And I'm continually excited to see the amazing work being done by independent game developers, particularly those making "serious" games that make people's lives better, in addition to being fun.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey David! Do you play dungeons and dragons? Can you tell us about your character in the game? :)
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@ems_hodge Ooh, an opportunity to shamelessly plug my book, Of Dice and Men! My cleric Weslocke is an important character in that story, since I use anecdotes from real-world games to help illustrate the story of D&D's history and impact. Lately I've been playing in a new campaign, and my character is a second-level rogue named Stingray. He's a former carnival performer who uses whip tricks to fight monsters.
Vignesh Selvasundar
Vignesh Selvasundar@nextgenguy · Managing Editor, Techzei
@dewalt I've never played D&D apart from watching the cultural references on The Big Bang Theory. Where do I start(None of my friends play, but would be interested if I teach them). Really looking for some help here.
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@nextgenguy I get this question a lot, so that means there are a lot of people out there looking for games, and plenty of places where you could start! You might look into the D&D Adventurer's League, which is an organized play program run by D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast: They sponsor weekly games at stores around the globe, and each session is designed to provide an easy introduction to the game. There are also lots of existing D&D groups looking for new players; they tend to advertise on places like Meetup and Reddit. Or you could hit one of the many tabletop game conventions held around the country --they welcome new players and don't require a major time commitment, you can just show up, play one game for a couple hours, and see if you like it.
UGEplex
UGEplex@ugeplex
Hi David. I was wondering if you're continuing to update your book, Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It? If so, how do owners of the physical book get the updated content? And, are you already working on a follow-up book along the same lines?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@ugeplex I do have some new updates to the story I told in Of Dice and Men, and they'll all be shared online where anyone can get them. The best way to find out about updates is to subscribe to my newsletter and follow my social media accounts -- you can find links to all that stuff on my web site, davidmewalt.com.
Len Forge
Len Forge@lenforge · Director, Digital Dev, Scholastic
Hi David, what are your thoughts on the cancellation of Project Morningstar (aka DungeonScape)? With the proliferation of digital tools like Roll20 and Tabletop Simulator, is it even necessary?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@lenforge I think it's a shame that project got cancelled, but as you point out, there are other tools either already on the market or in development. The tabletop gaming hobby really needs better ways to play games online; so much of the fun of playing a game like D&D is tied to the experience of hearing and seeing your friends. I was actually emailing with my friends earlier today about moving my D&D campaign online for a few sessions; I've tested Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, but haven't decided which one to actually use on a regular basis. If you or anyone else has recommendations, I'd love to hear them.
Len Forge
Len Forge@lenforge · Director, Digital Dev, Scholastic
@dewalt I don't have a particular preference, because I agree with you - the game really works best when played in person. As an addendum, have you checked out Sword Coast Legends? There is a DM/Campaign mode there that looks really fascinating. It's available for pre-order but there is plenty of preview footage to review now.
@dewalt In your opinion, what makes a good journalist? What separates the best from the mediocre? Is it simply the ability to write catchy headlines/stories, or does it go much deeper?
David M. Ewalt
David M. Ewalt@dewalt · Writer, gamer, primate.
@kyudlee I think the most important thing is the ability to think critically. Too many journalists just parrot what they're told, and that kind of reporting is useless, even when it's beautifully written. A good journalist asks the right questions, finds the truth in a story, and tells the reader what matters. As an editor, I can teach someone to to be a good writer; I can compose a catchy headline for them; I can punch up their copy until it sings. I can't make someone with a lazy mind into a critical thinker.