When I arrived in Philly a week ago, I had no idea what was in store for us at PAX Unplugged. Last year was really fun, and it’s also when Joey and I met Jack for the first time! Little did I know a year later, we’d be running the DOTS RPG Project and helping expand it to something beyond anything Jack imagined it would be. It’s been a few days of catch up and getting back into the swing of things for my everyday life. Now that I can think again, it’s time for the post PAX Unplugged update!
Unplugged was three days of pure chaos that had some amazing results. Joey and I spent time each day at the Die Hard Dice booth since they were shorthanded (he was on the dice rolling game most of the time, you probably got some free dice from him!), but it was really nice to have a “home base” with our dice on display so people could come and find us. Many people sought us out, coming right to the booth to check out the braille dice and chat with us which was great. Others were only there to shop DHD, and happened to notice our dice and start asking questions. The level of acceptance for accessibility items, interest in the project and concept of improving accessibility in gaming, and passion from friends and strangers to want to help in any way they could was beyond anything we could have expected. Since it was our first time at a con, we weren’t even sure anyone would take the time to speak with us, let alone purchase DOTS gear (which will be available here on the site once I get that set up) and help support us! It was the COOLEST thing seeing someone get a pin and IMMEDIATELY put it on their shirt or lanyard, for all the world to see. It may have been something small, but that level of support in person was and still is very new to us. Additionally, hundreds of our business cards made it into people’s hands, and the thought of those being passed to their friends, game stores, schools, etc is so exciting!
Networking was an absolute joy. Speaking to people who had heard of us but not gotten in contact yet, or people who didn’t even know we existed before introducing ourselves was great every time! You never really know how much time you’ll get to speak to someone before they want to continue shopping, have to go to a panel, take care of customers at their booth, or anything else, so we had our 30 second elevator pitch ready. It always took us by surprise when we noticed 30 MINUTES had passed and we were still talking to the same person/company! A handful of publishers we spoke to were very much interested in getting their books transcribed into braille, so yay for more titles being added to the lending library! We don’t want to drop any names on that just yet, since we still need to connect post-con and work things out. But I can safely say there’s going to be a nice variation of D&D 5e supplements, different d20 based RPGs, a d10 based system, and some using their own systems.
Friday was a little slow compared to the other two days since we didn't get to talk with that many industry people, but we met up with a lot of fans/followers that came to seek us out! It was so great being able to talk to people who our projects directly affected, getting more feedback and ideas on things to do next. We closed out the night enjoying the Dice Camera Action live show, after which I saw an email that I won a giveaway for a free Anycubic Photon! This is the printer we currently use to make the dice, so it's going to be great having a second one on hand. We can either use this to print twice as many, or experiment with different resin types to try mold making and casting. Our options are (almost) endless!
One of the best conversations had during PAX was on Saturday with Hawke Robinson from RPG Research. Jack had connected with him previously, discussing having braille items on their traveling bus which he made happen, so I wanted to make sure we connected. We attended the Bringing Others to the Table panel (which was great, and will be transcribed from the not so great audio recordings we have!!), and caught up afterwards, talking briefly with Dr. B from Take This, Adam Davis from Game to Grow, and Tanya DePass from I Need Diverse Games (unfortunately missed Dr. Megan Connell from Geeks Like Us and Carlos Luna from Roll 20) before spending the next 2 hours with Hawke, if not more! He had so much insight on how he runs things, how to start conversations with people, how to make sure the information you put out there is correct, how to research the topics you need to know, and so many other things. Hawke is going to be helping us get all of our paperwork set up finally, since we've being having problems with the lawyers we've tried to work with. Thankfully, he's someone who's gone through the whole process already and is more than willing to give some pointers! Additionally, thanks to Hawke's advice, we're finally going to be launching our Patreon in January to help us cover the charity setup costs! More info to come on that soon, when all the accounts are authorized and tiers decided on. If you have an idea of something you'd like to see on a pledge tier, Contact Us and let us know!
After all the crazy fun stuff with Hawke, we spent the majority of sales floor time back at DHD, where we happened to meet Justin, a front end developer at D&D Beyond! He loved our braille dice and we had quite a lengthy conversation about our goals, during which I echoed my previous concerns with the site's screen-reader-friendliness (or lack thereof) that I had previously spoken to DDB about, but this time I actually had a fully engaged conversation. Justin was absolutely amazing, and 100% on board to push more accessibility friendly aspects of DDB. We're going to be chatting in the near future, and helping him find all the things that could be improved. Braille books might be great, but making DDB fully accessible really opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
In addition to the braille dice we donated to the PAX TableTop HQ that is now part of their lending library, we gave another set to David, the Chief Librarian at Alexandria RPG that will travel with their library to all their events! It's really an awesome thing knowing these dice are being made more available with each day, each connection. I'd chalk Saturday up as a success, wouldn't you? But wait...there's more!
The busiest day for us ended up being Sunday, the last day of the con. By that point everyone who wanted to see us knew we were there and were seeking us out, which is a super cool feeling. We had an awesomely long chat with Jason from Toronto Gaymers, who has been lightly stalking us for a while. It was so great to meet and discuss working together on projects yet to be announced! While I'm on the topic of projects yet to be announced...there were two publishers we spoke to for about an hour each that were VERY interested in having their books done in braille, and want to help out any way they can. Expect some fun announcements in the coming months!
I finally met up with Satine and Ruty after connecting with Satine earlier this year to get her a set of braille dice for her UK trip. It seemed fitting that I load them up with all of our new DOTS gear if the dice are just going to be shown off more and more! Come to think of it, there's a video of us chatting somewhere on Ruty's phone that I'll have to get a hold of...but anyway. While we were all chatting, Satine realized people had been in line for the D&D AL room for a few hours and asked me to DM something quick with her so they wouldn't be so bored. Naturally, I missed that chance by getting immediately distracted by Fenway, the lovely individual she introduced me to moments before! Fenway is responsible for Jasper's Game Day, an event focused around suicide prevention. She's got some amazing things already in the works, and we can't wait to help out however we can. The folks from The Role Initiative were also stationed by the AL room, and I got to talk to Deb, Eric, and Derek about everything we're working on and have planned for the future whcih was so great because they were all so incredibly interested both on a personal and professional level. We hope to partner up with them soon also, so you're going to be seeing us everywhere! Our last meetup (that I can talk about) was another one thanks to Satine, the guys from Master Monk Gaming (aka Thinking Monk). There may or may not be some pretties happening in the future, but we're already scheming on ideas on things to create together!
PAX Unplugged was a whirlwind of love, laughter, and never ending support. Once again, the biggest of thank yous goes to Todd, Jessie, Chris, and Em from Die Hard Dice for being in our corner from the start, and supporting us in many many many ways. We wouldn't have had half the conversations we did if it not for DHD, allowing us to have our braille dice on display. It's been so great meeting everyone, and we can't wait for the next con! We won't be making PAX South (sorry!), but we'll be attending PAX East on Saturday. We'll probably try to attend GenCon, but that's still too far away (brain is still in Philly I think).
So in parting, why don't I leave you with this: OUR DRAGON+ MAGAZINE ARTICLE that just dropped today!! Huge thank you to Editor in Chief Matt Chapman for being great!
(The website/app isn't screen reader friendly, so here's our blog with the text)