I want to say I really had mixed feelings about the Summit before it happened and now, I’m very much behind everyone who attended thanks to Taron Pounds’ (Indestructoboy) perspective among others. I think everyone who attended did a great job of keeping WotC on their toes. A lot of us still don’t like the direction WotC is going with D&D, and I think that’s clear now.
One of the more controversial takes I still hold is WotC has tried to set Content Creators up as gatekeepers in the community. I think they tried to cherry pick people with what they saw as having the most credibility within the community and tried to turn them into a Public Relations engine. I think the Summit was a PR stunt gone horribly wrong. BUT, we all learned a lot from it, including WotC.
I’m shocked it went as long as it did after WotC caught onto which way the proverbial wind was blowing. I think WotC was hoping to put on a show and have tons of positive press and that’s kinda how it went, just maybe not how they expected. A lot of us who were watching Twitter, ENWorld.com, and YouTube got a good sample of what was said at the Summit- both wins and losses for WotC.
I’m still catching up on some of the summaries from attendees. Some people took outstanding notes. At least WotC tried to do the right thing. I think there was just a lot of pent up hostility from the OGL, the BIPOC, LGBTQIA creators, and others from the OGL fracas in January.
I love Dungeons & Dragons more than I hate WotC.
All said and done, I don’t think the Summit was a flop. WotC has shown us, the fans/D&D Community/ #ttrpgfamily that there are some people within the company who actually care about what we think. Maybe the execs are still a bit clueless, and we have to forgive them in their isolation for that. The OGL disaster showed them that their thousands of consumers have an opinion about their product.
I think WotC’s top-down style of communication is failing them dramatically. It’s probable that WotC thought the Content Creator subculture could sway the fans’ opinions of them even more. I think the movie did more for D&D’s image than the Summit did. Unfortunately for WotC, D&D fans don’t like being talked down-to. Between the OGL debacle and the Summit, it’s becoming clearer that WotC needs to do more listening that talking right now if they want to make nice and sell their Virtual TableTop. Dodging questions entirely or giving non-answers is never a good way to go when dealing with any audience.
I’ve made it no secret that I can’t stand large, nameless, faceless corporate entities who focus 98% on profits and not much on people. After the summit, I think we can see some people within WotC who do actually care and are trying to do better. It has also shown us that the company needs to do a lot better engaging with People of Color in particular. We haven’t heard the end of that issue by a damn sight and we need to see WotC do better in regards to inclusion.
I think a lot of us want to see the game itself succeed. We want to see YouTubers and Twitch streamers succeed, regardless of size. I apologize again for being critical or sounding critical of anyone. Everyone who attended the Creator Summit did an absolutely amazing job of representing the #ttrpgcommunity. WotC still has issues.
It was never my intention to denigrate or insult any individual streamer/YouTuber/cosplayer.
The major difference between now and the “good old days.”
(*Ha! Watch my kids flee the room.) Back in my day, aka the 1980s and 90s, if we took issue with something in a rulebook, there were ways to contact good old T$R directly. We could send snail mail or email directly to most game designers. We could write into Dragon or Polyhedron. We could find the writers at conventions, not just Gen Con.
It was never guaranteed the designers would implement our feedback in those days, but at least we got to give them feedback. Now? It’s still super difficult if not impossible to get in touch with Wizards of the Coast.
Sure, we can roast them on social media. We can talk mad sh🦆t about them on our blogs and YouTube channels. We can try in vain to contact them on Twitter and Instagram. But they never really respond to anything. At least they’re having more of a presence at conventions. They were just at PAX East and are apparently sending representatives to Gen Con.
One thing that was apparently reaffirmed at the Summit: Kyle Brink just needs to put the microphone down and walk away. I think he means well, but from all accounts when he speaks, PR comes out. Maybe he’s awesome at his day job, but I don’t think WotC should use him as a spokesperson for the brand going forward. Either way, I’m still good for that pro wrestling match either using 5E or in person, Kyle.
What would help D&D going forward in my opinion.
Okay, this might sound totally crazy. (*I know…) WHAT IF- What if WotC’s D&D team held a quarterly Town Hall style meeting online? Give all of us regular fans a chance to speak and be heard by the designers, marketing, PR, advertising, and VTT developers. Not just a broadcast like that silly Showcase, but an actual meeting. I can’t speak for the whole D&D community, but I think it would not only help WotC’s image, but it would personalize the brand going forward.
I love Content Creators. I truly do. I watch a lot of YouTube and Ginny Di was one of the first channels I started watching many years ago when I got back into D&D YouTube. She’s great. I’ve never thought otherwise. Please go check out her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@GinnyDi/videos
(*Honestly, I want to make amends for that whole misunderstanding before the Summit. She really is a good person and a great social media personality. I’m so sorry I offended her.)
All I’m saying is I think WotC should become Content Creators themselves. Why not have an official Actual Play? Why not go back to sponsoring inclusive actual plays? What’s stopping them from putting out their perspective, PR or otherwise, on their own official D&D channel? Not all scripted and fakey like the Showcase, but real interviews and questions submitted by the audience. Why not?
Instead of saying, “We’re only interested in Creators with XX,000 or more subscribers” why not just talk to EVERYONE who wants to listen and maybe take some questions from emails or a special section of the D&D Beyond Forums? It seems obvious to me that WotC wants to reach the community, but they just don’t know how to go about it.
WotC also needs to address their issues around diversity and inclusion far more than they do already. I don’t think anyone should be pushed out of the hobby or the company, but more BIPOC executives and designers need to be brought into the fold. More on that issue in another article.
More to come on the VTT and the game itself.
I find it rather amusing that they held a Summit to show off the new VTT and new D&D rules, and it turned into kind of a free-for-all critique of WotC/D&D for a while. As several people have pointed out, many folx went into the discussions with a completely different notion of what was supposed to happen. As a first experiment, we learned a lot. The next summit(s) will be interesting to see what WotC does differently. It was a good first attempt, at any rate.
I’m personally concerned about the future of the mother of all TTRPGs and where it’s headed. D&D has been a big part of my life for over 40 years. I love the game, but I gotta say I’m not a big fan of the company who makes it.
From another perspective: if I have an issue with something in a Pathfinder book, can I reach someone at Paizo? Probably. If I see something in a Kobold Press book that doesn’t seem like it belongs there, can I get in touch with Kobold? Yeah. I’ve had email conversations with people at both Goodman Games and Renegade Studios- maybe not designers, but I think it would have been possible if I needed to.
Would WotC listen if I somehow managed to email them directly? I’m not holding my breath. Maybe a form response if I was lucky. That’s what needs to change. Other companies don’t even need a Creator Summit. Why is that?
WotC needs to be accessible by the fans. Sure, maybe they don’t implement every single change or do anything we suggest, but wouldn’t it be nice to know we’re being heard? There are tons of fans out here on social media, the blogosphere, and various channels who want to be heard by their audiences and WotC. Wouldn’t it be amazeballs if I could come back with answers to interview questions from someone at WotC? Heck, I’d even interview Kyle Brink himself if I could.
I can dream, can’t I? Thanks for being here. I hope you have a great day. More to come.