Production manager and writer Ryan Schapals works for the LA online media studio Hyper RPG. His job is to turn tabletop roleplaying games into live performance-based narrative experiences on the video streaming website Twitch.
Prior to joining the HyperRPG team, Ryan worked with computer game company Harebrained Schemes as a writer for the app-enhanced tabletop miniatures game Golem Arcana. Right now he’s juggling his minion duties at Hyper RPG building the world of Amaurea’s Dawn for a new tabletop roleplaying game rule set, Open Legend.
Join us for a chat about the second-guessing voices in the back of your head, getting into roleplaying games through Neverwinter Nights, turning down the opportunity to be on-screen talent and the zen experience of doing the dishes!
Host of The YES Effect podcast, possibility hacker and fire captain Shelli Varela has been blazing trails both figuratively and literally for over 2 decades. As well as a veteran firefighter and podcaster, Shelli is a published author of a children’s book and a public speaker, having presented for TEDx twice.
But Shelli has a particular trick that helped her achieve all these goals, a technique she calls Possibility Hacking. Shelli has used it to coach badass women to say “Yes!” to their greatness and live life on purpose, not autopilot. By the time this episode goes to air, Shelli will have unleashed her signature online program called YES University onto the web, and in March her inner circle membership site will be launching.
Shelli and I have a great chat about going from a 108lb. artist to her city department’s first female fighter, the danger of taking on the labels other people’s place on you, how she discovered possibility hacking through reverse engineering her techniques for learning fire fighting and the power of the question: “Why not me?”
Creative Director for Paizo, inc., James L. Sutter, is one of the privileged few who helps us geeks combine board gaming, improvisation and flights of imagination via the hobby of the tabletop roleplaying game. He co-developed the rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, which lets players adventure through dungeons and slay dragons, and was recently appointed as the Creative Director of the upcoming Starfinder Roleplaying Game which will shift the high fantasy world of Pathfinder a few thousand years into the future and add starships, lasers and cyborgs to Pathfinder’s elves, dwarves and magic swords.
Not only does James write for RPGs, but James is also a keen fiction author. He manages the the Pathfinder Tales novel line for Paizo and has written two novels for it; Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, as well as a multitude of short stories for other publications. James enjoys playing with high-concept ideas like the meaning of atheism in a world where deities are objective fact.
James and I have a great chat about a high school teacher who encouraged his students to create their own RPGs, getting his arse handed to him in Wheel of Fortune, evolving timelines in game products, the joys of communal living and the spirit of adventure at the heart of tabletop roleplaying games!
Television host and actor Steven O’Donnell is better known to gamers across Australia as Bajo, one of the four hosts of the ABC television show Good Game. Bajo’s prestige amongst the Australian geek community has made him a go-to guest and MC for pop culture conventions.
Bajo has acted in close to 40 short films and 6 independent features and is part of a team developing a new children’s TV show for the ABC, which has just been green-lit after four years of development. If that’s not enough, Bajo and fellow Good Game host Hex have written a children’s book series called Pixel Raiders for Scholastic.
Bajo and I have a great chat about night-long Counter-Strike marathons four days a week, making children cry at Warner Bros. Movie World, the sheer amount of work involved in making multiple television shows each week, seeking out challenges that make you feel uncomfortable and how community is at the heart of any passion!
Board game marketer Brittanie Boe, known to pretty much everyone as Bebo, is an example of paid to play success for those of us who feel like life has locked us into the nine-to-five. She is a single mother and lover of board games who had a day job working in the marketing department of an insurance company.
Now, Bebo is the marketer for a board game distributor, managing multiple social media channels with a team of fellow enthusiasts, attending industry and fan conventions and generally helping enthusiasts find the right games for their tastes. On top of all that, she works from her home!
And if that’s not enough, Bebo joins forces with my guest for episode 77, Teri Litorco; together, they are the blogging, YouTubing and podcasting duo of tabletop gaming, The Board Dames!
It was great chatting with Bebo about how she transitioned from day-job dullness to work-from-home wonderment, how Bebo’s friends and family help stop her from losing herself in work and what her next steps will be – as well as her not-so-secret desire to form a country music band!
After taking photos of pets as a hobby for years, it took Ken Drake answering the dreaded, “What do you do for work?” question with what he wished he could be doing (instead of the software engineer work he’d been looking for) to start him down the path of getting Paid to Play.
Ken’s wife Beck had similarly been in business and marketing for years, and when her husband’s sideline began gathering steam, Beck herself saw an opportunity to start bringing meaning into the work she’d already been doing.
The result is Zoo Studio, which produces fantastic images of people’s pets! These two were a request of my wife Vickie, and I was very glad to chat with them about going Venkman on one of the most joyous hobbies possible!
Linc Biggins is a longtime petrolhead, driving, riding and modifying vehicles on two wheels and four for as long as he can remember. after discovering the simple joy (and lack of expense) of commuting to work on a 50cc scooter, Linc decided to open a shop dedicated to the sit-down two-wheel market. The result, ScootaCo, is Cairns’ largest dedicated motor scooter retail and service store.
I had occasion to use ScootaCo’s services myself after the tyre inflation valves on The Foxy Lady, my 150cc scooter, gave way, and I got chatting with Linc about his business. The next step was, naturally, to interview him for the podcast!
Forty-two episodes! Does that mean my guest for this episode is the Answer to the Question of Life, The Universe and Everything?
Even if not, it’s great to chat with someone who’s found some pretty good answers to the Question of Getting Paid to Play – and I mean answers, plural! Ash Chain is not only monetising her hobby of cosplay through print sales at conventions, she’s also been able to get into a day job that is all about artistic expression and her personal interests: Tattooing.
Ash has already made her name in both the Brisbane ink and cosplay scenes, and just recently she made the move from the Big Smoke to Cairns, where she will be running a stall at our first ever pop culture convention, Tropicon!
Beethy is a photographer based in Australia who has chosen to focus his craft on portraits of cosplayers; people who not just make costumes based on fictional characters, but also go out in public and bring life to those characters. That focus has garnered him not just a living wage but also a fantastic reputation amongst the international cosplay community.
Cosplayers around the world know that the name Beethy means eminently sale-worthy portrait prints of their craft and art, but they also know it means a fun being who brings joy to the process of making great photos. I got to sample his warm personality in this chat, during which he tells his stories of the community and how he became so well known within it.
Beethy also gives a good chunk of practical photography of business advice, including a crash course in taking good cosplay photos and the rules that Beethy built his business around. You may find his experiment into who produces the best photo prints to be a real eye ear-opener!
Oh, and there’s some random geeking out about video games and consoles at the beginning too! I love asking folks what they’re digging right now!