In this interview, the latest installment in my annual series leading up to the 2015 ENnies, I interview W.J. Walton, friend of the column and founder/writer/do-it-all for theescapist.com. The Escapist is nominated for a Best Website ENnie. This is the site’s fourth nomination. It won the Silver back in 2012. You can vote for the ENnies here today through July 14, 2015, with the winners announced on July 31 at Gen Con’s ENnies Ceremony.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your gaming experience and your company.
W.J. Walton (WJW): Roleplayer since 1981, I started with the purple (Moldvay) box. My website began as part of a paper I was working on for a Technical Writing class in December of 1995. It was originally an AOL member site (!!!) and has come a very long way since then. It began as a website devoted to debunking the myths and misinformation about tabletop RPGs, and has since broadened to other forms of promotion of the hobby.
MT: What sets your product apart from the competition?
WJW: It’s the only site on the internet that has been working towards the positive promotion of the roleplaying hobby for nearly 20 years!
MT: What publishers or products will you be rooting for in the ENnies (besides yourself)?
WJW: Dragons in the Stacks, Red & Pleasant Land, the Firefly RPG, and Designers & Dragons
MT: There was some controversy over an unlicensed fan product competing in the ENnies. What’s your opinion on fan products?
WJW: There’s some quality stuff out there. Let’s give them their own category
MT: Licensed products are an interesting challenge that few companies can afford. Are there any licensed products you would like to see as a role-playing game?
WJW: I don’t publish RPGs, and most of my favorite properties already have RPGs for them. Right now, the first thing that comes to mind would be Mad Max. Oh, and Harry Potter. It seems like everyone but the tabletop RPGers gets to play in the HP sandbox.
MT: It looks like Kickstarters are finally getting some regulation after the FTC went after “The Doom That Came to Atlantic City” board game. What are your thoughts on crowdfunding?
WJW: It’s a great tool for creative projects, but it can be easily abused and misused. I had a successful Kickstarter of my own (a children’s book that I wrote and illustrated) and got a taste of how easily it could have gotten away from me if I hadn’t carefully planned and budgeted everything.
MT: Many publishers have shifted away from crowdfunding to Patreon instead. Do you have a Patreon page or any plans to launch one in the future?
WJW: I have looked into it, and am considering the possibilities. Since my site is non-profit, I feel it could help me with the costs of maintaining it.
MT: Will you be at any conventions this year?
WJW: I’m hoping to make it to Save Against Fear, a convention in Harrisburg PA that works to raise awareness of therapeutic gaming.
MT: Where can fans find you online?
WJW: At the site (theescapist.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rpgadvocate), Google+ (www.facebook.com/rpgadvocate), Twitter (twitter.com/RPGadvocate) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)