Distributor Spotlight: An Interview with IPR

Nelly Steiner Promotion, Publisher Spotlight

This month Mox is turning the Spotlight on Indie Press Revolution (IPR) a distributor of some of the most wonderful indie roleplaying games out there. Seriously, if you haven’t yet checked out Fiasco, Ryuutama or Night Witches now is the time! We have some great events, sales and discounts and giveaways in store for you, click here for more details. Our Purchaser Nick Rauzi reached out to Jason Walters, General Manager at IPR to dig a little deeper into the mission and ethos of IPR in the gaming industry.

NR: What makes Indie Press Revolution unique in the Tabletop Gaming Industry?

JW: We’re the only distributor with a fan base? Seriously though, what makes us unique is that we are almost entirely dedicated to the alternative roleplaying small press, and to those creators who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what roleplaying games can be.

NR: What is Indie Press Revolution’s mission?

JW: To be a promoter, distributor, online retailer, and convention presence for small press roleplaying game publishers, with an emphasis on games by creators from marginalized communities, or those who have experimental design ideas. (Or both!). We also have a keen interest in making translated foreign language roleplaying games available to our primarily English language audience. We try to bring these unfamiliar, “outside” voices into the larger gaming culture, thus broadening and enriching it. Because what is a roleplaying game but a story we tell together? And what good does it do any of us to tell the same stories over and over again? Our publishers come from far away places, bearing gifts that only they can give.

NR: What tabletop game has had the biggest impact on you?

JW: I’m nearly fifty, and I have had five major gaming experiences in my life: all with roleplaying games, averaging about one a decade, and all uniquely impactful. The first was (quite naturally) with Dungeons & Dragons – the basic boxed set they published in the 70’s. My dad got me one when I was eight (In 1978!), and it was like a light came on in my mind. Suddenly there was another world my soul could escape into. A more exciting fantasy realm; a richer place in which I could be someone heroic who mattered – rather than a suburban kid with bowl cut who wasn’t very good at sports. (Which was pretty much the *only* thing that mattered where I grew up!)

The second experience was with Champions. It was not only the first really good superhero RPG, but also the first one where you could build the character you wanted from a coherent point system, rather than rolling randomly and seeing what happened. It gave you agency, rather than abandoning you to the cruel whims of fate, and was very empowering for its time.

Fast forward to a convention in 2004 and I’m playing Dogs In The Vineyard by the The Bakers. Man, what a game! It totally blew my mind! Not only because of its unique setting, but also because it presented you with tough ethical tasks, refused to guide you through them, and then demanded you define within the game what’s right or wrong. And it had a valuable meta context too. Playing that game teaches you what kind of people you’re playing with. What does the guy to your right think “good” is? What does the gal to your left think “evil” is? What are their moral structures? Do you really even want to know these people – I mean, in real life?

Then a few years after that I played Jason Morningstar’s masterpiece Fiasco. Now THAT really pushed the limits of what you could call a “roleplaying” game! Not only is your character nothing more than four index cards, it’s totally disposable. In fact, the game is so powerfully narrative that you might kill your own character for the joy of storytelling effect!

Finally, I’m a great admirer of Ross Cowman’s Fall of Magic. That is some inspired minimalist game design. The way the physical nature of the game provides and provokes quality freeform storytelling, almost without any written rules at all? Genius.

NR: Where do you see the popularity/interest in Role Playing Games changing in the next 10 years?

JW: I think its appeal will broaden and grow to include more and varied groups of people, including those outside of the Anglosphere. There are simple reasons for this. Gaming is a way you can spend time with your friends: hopefully in person, hopefully being and doing something that feels heroic and important, that you can physically do with others. And, with the first thirty years of the internet nearly behind us, many people long for activities that take them away from the virtual and back to the physical.

Also, it’s a pretty economical hobby. That D&D boxed set my dad gave me 41 years ago? We could play that right now if you wanted. And it would be fun too.

NR: IPR is a company that sells direct to both individuals and to retailers, was that the original intent when the company started or did it develop from something else?

JW: That was part of the original intent. The founding publishing members, many of whom still work with us, wanted to pool their resources to attend conventions, sell online, and break what was at the time an insurmountable distribution barrier between small press games and retailers. And they did.

NR: What theme(s) would you love to see in a Role Playing Game?

JW: Personally? I love those games where you’re playing concepts and civilizations as much as individual characters, and where you create the setting as part of play. I really enjoy games like Microscope, Kingdom, Eden, The Quiet Year, At The Hands of an Angry God, and Reign. Can’t get enough of that experience.

NR: With the rapid growth of technology and digital interaction with Role Playing Games what would you like to see become part of RPGs?

JW: At heart I’m a fanboy bookseller, and not any kind of futurist. But I think the best thing technology can do for roleplaying games is the same thing it can best do for any of the arts: providing more and better access to tools for people, which in turn breaks down the line between creator and consumer. Blurring that line is very important in the arts generally, and especially in this one. This is the realm of participants, not spectators, and the barrier to connecting your creations with other people has never been lower.

NR: Lastly, what is your favorite food to eat while playing games?

JW: Pizza, God help me! There’s something about the smell which brings back memories of the 48 hour D&D marathons of my youth. It’s nostalgic and comforting.

 

From all of us at Mox we would like to thank IPR for bringing these quirky, diverse, game titles to people everywhere and enriching the roleplaying game industry. Stop by Mox this month and try out something new, our friendly staff will be happy to walk you through all the different games we have available.

  • See you at Mox