Talking TableTop is a weekly interview style podcast created for tabletop gamers. We talk with some of the industry leaders to find out what makes them tick. Our goal is to celebrate this incredible community of people and offer an avenue for collaboration between ourselves, this community, and those pushing tabletop innovation.
Jim McClure: Host and Storyteller
“Now don’t be telling me stories”
That was the well intentioned advice that my mother gave to eight year-old me. My version of what happened to the missing cookies was too imaginative to be real, apparently, and my mother was nice enough not to outright call me a liar. Instead she gave me a piece of advice which I have continued to ignore to this very day.
I tell stories.
I remember the first game I was exposed to with real storytelling elements. Hugo III: Jungle of Doom was a simple little adventure game about a plane crash, a girl bit by a spider, a medicine man, and… well that was about it. I never could get past that damn medicine man.
That game inspired me to make my first game. It was 36 pieces of paper all laid out in one big map with crudely drawn pathways that took players from one page to the next. There was a village, a secret island, and even a ladder puzzle to be solved. My nostalgic mind remembers it as one of the best games ever made by mankind.
While reality would probably strike down that grand claim, the game did mean the world to me. I could tell stories. I could make games. My enjoyment of the world was no longer limited by consuming the imagination of others, I had the power to create.
This new power went right to my head and I began cranking out game after game throughout my childhood and adolescence. I would wake up early and write out stats and abilities for my characters while I sat in bed. I had my own little self-imposed creative sweatshop where I toiled away at ideas. From these creative sessions came some of my favorite works: “The Eternal Flames of War”, “Legends of a World”, “Aftermath Trilogy”, and “The Industry of War”.
I felt I had finally caught lightning in a bottle at eighteen when I got back into watching WWE wrestling. I wanted to make a game that captured the feeling of what I was getting to watch in the ring. After weeks of early morning sweatshop sessions I had something, a game where the mechanics wrote their own narrative. I created them, set them in motion, and they entertained me for once. They told me stories.
This was my first tabletop RPG experience. I did not know what a tabletop RPG was but I had made one. I could not have imagined there was anyone else in the world that would be interested in this style of gameplay, but thankfully I was wrong.
It was when I turned twenty-one that I was finally dragged kicking and screaming to my first D&D game (that might be an exaggeration, but this is my story after all, I get to tell it how I want). Despite everything I had done and experienced, D&D was still too nerdy for me. It was a step too far.
And it was love at first roll.
After that, I discovered that an entire world of people had been making games just like me. An entire world of people had been playing games just like me. I had found my world.
It took me almost a year before I got the courage to try out being a DM. Ever since, I have been a perpetual DM, writing stories, planning battles, and extending my early morning game making sessions to a large audience.
Mom, I hate to tell you this but after all this time, I still tell stories.
Jim Merritt: Designer and Web Guy
Yep, that’s right, I’m a graphic designer, web designer, front-end dev guy. That’s what I love doing. One of the main reasons I enjoy the web design field is the community. The web-dev community is incredible. Everyone shares information and welcomes new people looking to learn. People are open about projects and strategies and look to not only better themselves, but also the community.
With that being said, my RPG experience is limited, to say the least. I enjoy stories. I enjoy the characters and the systems. I enjoy everything about it. I am just not very experienced. I’m willing to bet my total playtime compared to other Jim’s total playtime is about 1:3,452,976,821. Give or take 1 or 2. But what has brought me back into the fold of this community is just that, the community. When I started this project with Jim I began by doing some research so I could at least sort of, kind of, keep up. What I found is that all the things I love about the web-dev community are here in the RPG gaming community as well!
So far I have found a lot of avenues for people to talk about how much they enjoy their specific games or how much they love playing a certain system. People are passionate for their own enjoyment, passionate for the enjoyment of others and (for the most part) welcoming of people looking to start finding their own adventures. Pair the desire of the community to connect and my love for digital design and I find a great place to set up camp, join in the convo., and start giving something back wherever I can.