This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and support our education programs, visit Madison365.org/Academy.
It can get boring just sitting in your room playing video games and not really knowing the players you’re playing with — you just play to play. That’s one reason tabletop role playing games are starting to make a comeback, the most popular RPG game being Dungeons and Dragons. Tabletop RPG games offer a better sense of a community and players really get to know one another. That’s the core idea behind the new Madison-based startup Roll For Guild (RFG).
Tabletop role playing games are a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the players describe their characters’ actions through speech. Players also determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and whether their actions succeed or fail according to a set formal system of rules. Tabletop games also provide a better sense of community and make the game more collaborative and interactive with other players. “In tabletop games you aren’t playing against each other, you are playing with each other” says RFG co-founder Quigley Malcolm.
“If you look at the growth of the community it’s actually getting larger,” Malcolm says. “It’s only been getting larger. We’ve been tracking statistics from other sites as well and most of them saw an incredible jump from the last quarter from 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, quite literally their (traffic) doubled.” Now that dungeons and dragons and other tabletop games have become increasingly more popular the CEO’s of the website Rolling for Guild (RFG), Malcolm and co-founder Trezy are trying to resolve a common problem among these players, which is finding other players to play with.
“There’s a stigma around walking up to somebody and saying, ‘Hey I play Dungeons and Dragons, do you wanna play with me?’ Like you’re the weird guy in the room all of a sudden,” says Trezy. That stigma has been reduced somewhat lately, though.
“We’re seeing it more often in pop culture shows like Community, The Big Bang Theory, Stranger Things,” says Malcolm. “A lot of popular figures have come out as playing dungeons and dragons. Elon Musk, Judi Dench, Steven Spielberg.”
Still, players have a hard time trying to find other players. Some go to game stores and look for flyers in search of people to play with. Others post on online forums but is often very scattered and in the past have use subreddits to search for player in specific places. Roll For Guild aims to make it easier to bring players together so they play the role playing game they all love and enjoy. On their website you can create a group, search for a group, request to join a group. It also has discussion forums. Their main focus right now is simply improving the ability to search for groups in your area and making groups as useful as possible. But they still plan to make more tool accessible to players like scheduling events, messaging other players and searching by games they’re interested in. Also if you don’t really want to spend a lot of time going through the manuals and rulebooks, RFG is helping players go digital.
They recently launched a Kickstarter, their goal was to raise $25,000, but only managed to raise $2,739. The plan with the Kickstarter money was to supercharge development to pump out more features faster.
“I think one with our biggest issues with our Kickstarter is that we just didn’t have the social capital built that you really need to be able to be successful with a Kickstarter,” says Trezy. “You need to have people that are aware that you exist and you have to have a lot of people that are accepting that you’re coming into a category that they want you in.”
The founders say they didn’t really have a problem marketing themselves. On Reddit, where they primarily advertised, their click-through rates on their ads are doing 50% percent to 100% better than ads on average. “A lot of our success in advertising can be attributed to the fact that we are advertising honestly,” says Trezy.
They were discouraged after the Kickstarter wasn’t a success and they lost a lot of momentum, but they made the effort to pick themselves back up keep going which showed their team that they still believed in the idea. After the Kickstarter they started doing other marketing efforts; they are soon going to launch a podcast and during fall and winter they are going to be doing a charity live stream.
Even though the launch of their Kickstarter didn’t go as planned there still pushing to make this business work out for them and the gaming community.