August 2017 - A dream became reality
It's been just about a year since this entire crazy ride started with Jack wanting to make his friend's life a little easier. D was a blind gamer who faced many obstacles as he ran games and played with friends, but he overcame them with ease. Still, Jack wanted to do what he could because even the smallest things can make a difference. He set out on a course to not only design new products, but learn braille himself to make sure things would work and make sense to a blind user. The seed was planted, and the DOTS RPG Project began! Things started off small with sample dice and numbered counters to track HP or other in game items, plus some braille embossed books that the local community joined together to help fund. D's reception of these items was as good as could have been expected, even though there was a little playful teasing ;) Video of that can be found on our About page, and is worth the watch. Unfortunately, D passed away suddenly in January 2018. He did not have the chance to experience what DOTS has become today, but we know he is cheering us on every step of the way. This would not have been possible if not for him, his enthusiasm, and his suggestions. DOTS is his legacy, and we will carry that on for many years to come.
March 2018 - The Tweet Heard Around the World
I had been in touch with Jack for a few months, working to help with new dice ideas and getting in touch with various manufacturers and stores, in preparation to distribute braille dice. On a whim, I offered to take over his social media accounts for DOTS, taking on the role of Social Media Sorcerer. With one little tweet, DOTS became so much more than any of us could have imagined. It reached far and wide with almost 1.5 millions impressions to date! The TTRPG community came out in waves of support and love, showing how something this simple could change the attitudes and lives of countless individuals that were not only blind, but had other physical limitations they hoped we could address. Almost immediately we had various streamers, publishers, companies, stores, conventions, and so many others reach out to us wanting to be involved and asking what they could do to help. That leads us to where we are now...
August 2018 - Passionately moving forward
One of the things that makes DOTS great is our interest and dedication to being as involved as possible with our fans and supporters. Part of that includes sharing when we run into speed bumps, or in this case, changes. For the near future, Jack will be stepping out of the spotlight and leaving all of the day-to-day things to me. He is doing well, but has some health related concerns he needs to dedicate his attention to so he can be at his best. We've spoken at length about what that means for the future of DOTS, and what it would take to keep things rolling as they are. I am more than happy to continue on this path, since DOTS is bigger than D, Jack, or myself. It's about the community of gamers and potential gamers out there who are in need of our crazy ideas. Anyone who I've had the pleasure of speaking with directly can tell you I'm a very passionate individual, driven by the desire to improve people's lives with something positive and fun. Although I didn't set the foundation for DOTS, I've been working hard to bring things to where they are today. That's why I can assure everyone, things will not be slowing down. I pitched many new ideas to Jack that I wanted to pursue and he was on board with every single one of them which was a huge relief for me. I tend to go without stopping when it's something I'm passionate about, but I never wanted to turn DOTS into something that wasn't within his vision for the project. With his blessing and support now, it's time for DOTS to level up!
What comes next?
Well...the short answer is, A LOT!
One of the biggest things that I'm working on right now I've been hinting on twitter: #DOTSfamily. This is an excitingly huge endeavor in which I'm bringing together as many FLGS as possible, along with different community centers, schools, and anywhere that will host TTRPGs set up to have some braille books on hand of various games and supplements. At these locations, we're going to set up a lending library with not only our braille dice and gaming aids, but also braille books! We will provide the dice and books free of charge for places to lend out to people as needed. These books will not be for sale by us or the FLGS, but will be available for use while in stores, in agreement with the licenses I’ll have from publishers. We’ve gotten permission to translate and distribute the books in braille but only if there is no sales or profit involved. Our hope is to have countless stores worldwide work with us in bringing inclusivity to the table, opening up their doors to people that may have never set foot in a FLGS before since nothing catered to their needs. We will host and publicize events much like Tabletop Day in April, inviting disabled gamers to our DOTS Family locations to participate in events and gaming sessions. The community centered around a FLGS is a key piece to this puzzle! Not only does it have the potential to welcome new people to the gaming community, but it will also hopefully show various publishers the value of accessibility friendly items when they see some “real world” applications of braille books and various other aids. We're working on getting things translated currently, and on hold with a few of the big names as we wait for legal documents and licenses to be sorted out. This is going to be something that will hopefully change the lives of many people for the better and I'm so excited! If you'd like to join the DOTS Family, send me a message and we'll get this thing rolling!
Aside from that, we've got some other interesting things in the works: newly designed braille dice, new tactile symbol dice that are game specific (Shadowrun, Star Wars, etc), new dice for low vision (oversized with tactile numbers and areas to be painted if desired), new gaming aids (braille character sheet, tactile health/spell trackers, electronic dice rollers and more I can't mention yet!), and of course all the fun DOTS gear items (some of which being dice trays, dice bags, pins, regular dice in the DOTS brand colors of purple and green along with rainbow) thanks to our partnership with the amazing humans over at Die Hard Dice! Jack is also still going to be working on his game: Mosaic RPG, which I'll be posting more info about as soon as the rules and game mechanics are set in stone.
And finally, a long awaited and very exciting development for us is helping with the newly launched wiki for Accessible RPG. This is going to bring together a lot of the information we have gathered already from people regarding different disabilities and difficulties they have while playing, and hopefully create an easy to use resource that many people will be able to access whenever they need it. It's information here that I'm going to use to put together an "Accessibility Friendly" guide for vendors at conventions on how to make their booths easier to navigate for everyone, not just the average customer. There are small changes they can make that will greatly help, like having another table set up for wheelchair bound individuals, a sheet of paper with less images and larger font instead of a flashy postcard for those with low vision who want to have some literature on the products, and many more things. I'm looking forward to getting these into the vendor packets for various conventions, and maybe even having panels at some of them...but that's yet to be announced!
Well I think that's about enough for today, don't you? Thank you to everyone who has been along for this wild ride, and everyone who supports us! We couldn't do this without you, because we do it FOR you.
Much love from Jess, Jack, and the rest of the DOTS team!