Will Patterson: Thanks for speaking with me Matt. I understand that you just joined the Gauntlet. What brought you in?
Matt Hayles (@mathayles): I'd been enjoying actual plays from the Gauntlet community on YouTube and podcasts for a while. I'm a big fan of Pocket Sized play because it comes in short, digestible episodes that I can fit into my day (I'm a stay-at-home dad with two young kids). I'm always looking to play with diverse and inclusive tables, and I kept hearing from online friends about how good The Gauntlet's community was. When I decided to become a Patron, it seemed natural to come in at a level that let me join the Slack and games.
Uh oh, you’ve hit a personal obsession of mine (gaming with kids). Are your kids old enough to enjoy tabletop games yet?
Not even a little! My oldest is two and a half, and even though he's a very verbal kid he just can't pay attention to anything that isn't jumping on the couch for long. He's starting to experiment more with imagination play, which is really fun to see and I'm trying to encourage that and expose him to an inclusive group of stories, heroes and heroines. And my youngest is five months, so we've got a ways to go. I was excited to see that the Gauntlet Slack has a #kids_and_rpgs channel, because this hobby is definitely something I plan to introduce to them when they're ready.
Fantastic! Future Gauntleteers in the making. Are there any trends in the hobby that you find particularly exciting?
I think one of the best things in gaming right now is the focus on accessibility. First, I’m talking about games that are easy to pick up and play for beginners. Apocalypse World putting all the character moves right on the character sheet was a brilliant innovation! Or one-page games like John Harper’s Lasers & Feeling or all the games Grant Howitt’s been churning out like Honey Heist. Second I mean games where the content is accessible to people who aren’t interested in hack and slash sword and sorcery medieval euro-fantasy, which I’d consider over-represented in the hobby. If you look at what’s consumed in movies and television, there’s very little fantasy at all; other genres are just more interesting to most people. I’m especially in love with games that address marginalized communities, like Avery Alder’s games, which I adore. And lastly I mean the way games have been addressing disability, for example the recent batch of braille dice, and games that design for red-green colour blindness. I’m still learning more about disability myself, I’m not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be.
What brought you to the hobby originally?
Hah, so my parents signed me up for Dungeons & Dragons Camp over March Break when I was 9 or 10. I had never heard of D&D, didn’t own any dice or any books. But I was hooked so hard, and when I got home that evening I got a bunch of my friends together, pooled all our D6s from board games and grabbed LEGO’s for minis and tried to run a game from memory. They loved it too!
To this day, I don’t think my parents really understand what roleplaying games are.
That is amazing. Nearing the end here: You plan the perfect game night. What game? And are you playing or GMing?
When I’m working, I’m a professional people organizer, and I tend to end up doing the same with my friends and my gaming. I’m constantly putting new groups together and pitching games, and I’m almost always the GM for my tables. So I think my perfect game night is one that somebody else organizes and decides what we’re playing, and runs it. I just want to play!
Current favorite game?
I’d really love to play more Nobilis, Jenna Moran’s setting and characters are just so amazing and I love the mystic fairy tale storytelling that emerges from the mechanics, punctuated with long arguments about what words mean.
Most intriguing game you have yet to get to the table?
I still haven’t played Blades in the Dark! Everyone’s talking about it, I’ve played friends’ hacks of it, but never the actual game. I’m hoping to fix that this summer once my gaming schedule frees up a little.
Awesome. Thanks for humoring me, and I hope to see you in Doskvol!