Ashton Duncan / @ashtonnduncan on Twitter

@ashtonnduncan 

I work with Roll20 producing VTT (virtual tabletop) versions of official and third party tabletop games. I also create adventures, supplements, and character options for 5e on the DM’s Guild.

I am working on my dissertation on tabletop gaming! It’s about the material components of play and those objects’ effect on immersion, collaboration and the imaginative space.

How did you get into tabletop gaming?

Heroes & Halfwits! It’s a D&D show produced by Roosterteeth I waited by the computer for when it updated. After that, a spiral into Critical Role and “oh, I can play this too?” Discord gave me a community, Roll20 gave me a platform, and I got new friends (including my significant other) out of it!

What do you love about tabletop games?

The imaginative, collaborative space created by participants engaged in a social contract of narrative. Building a story with your friends is the short of it, but it is so much more than that. The atmosphere fostered around a table, virtual or not, is unique to each set of people and experience, their aesthetic sense, and their playstyles. It is a medium for story unlike any other, and it’s interactivity means that if it isn’t what you want you can always course correct.

Have you overcome any obstacles in tabletop gaming?

Before I became part of the capitalist industry that is tabletop gaming I wouldn’t have even considered going into a local game store for fear of gatekeeping, as I’d experienced it with other hobbies. When it became my work I thought that legitimized me and gave me the right to exist in those spaces (of course I’ve had that right all along, but tell the anxiety that). My “friendly” local game store didn’t know that’s what gave me the courage, but they showed me the door with an overkeen, embarrassing runthrough of how I’d gotten into gaming. Now I’ve found an actually friendly store, but it doesn’t host events. I’m primarily on the virtual tabletop, but I just go in to buy dice/accessories to support them and soak up the belonging, basically.

What would your advice be to women who are interested in tabletop gaming?

The biggest obstacle for me was feeling unwelcome, so find a space you already feel welcome in and introduce gaming to it! You can build knowledge of the rules with a group, and if you mess up you won’t feel socially penalized.

In roleplaying games, what kind of characters are you drawn to play?

I’m always pushing the boundary of the ruleset to make characters who don’t fit neatly into categories or traditional fantasy aesthetics. My current character is Poppy, an agnostic theurgy wizard studying non-divine magical medicine. She’s an elf, but she isn’t waif-like, because I like to see myself and others represented in the games I play so that when we win it feels like a win for us.

Is there a woman in tabletop who you think we should highlight?

Allie Bustion! @madpierrot works with Roll20 but has some amazing projects like Misbehavin’ (Blades in the Dark hack) and a D&D alignment compass

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