My Visit to Wizards of the Coast

Back at the beginning of November, I was given the opportunity to visit the Wizards of the Coast headquarters. I was out on the western side of the state for work, and Trevor Kidd offered to let me take a peek inside of WotC.

What my GPS said would take an hour took an hour-and-a-half with the terrible traffic the Seattle area experiences, but I finally arrived at a large office building, glistening in the late afternoon light.

I gave Trevor a call that I had arrived, and met him in person for the first time in the lobby. I’ve been talking with Trevor for a couple of years now on Twitter, but since I haven’t been able to make it out to any cons in the last, oh, seven years or so, like a lot of my Twitter friends, I hadn’t met him in person.

We headed up to the offices, where I was greeted by the massive dragon who inhabits the front office. After signing in and getting a badge which had my name and the name of the blog here, I headed in. I was actually surprised by how little space the D&D team took up. While one quarter of the floor was taken up by Magic: The Gathering, and another on the administrative side of things, the WotC team had their own corner, which was mostly taken up by a lounging area. The team is pretty small, which leads to a close-knit atmosphere, as far as I could see.

I got to meet Greg Tito, who does the D&D podcast with Shelly Mazzanoble and is the Communications Manager, Emi Tanji, Senior Graphic Designer, Bart Caroll, the Digital Marketing Manager, the infamous Stan!, who is a producer, and a few others. Some of the other big names like Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins, were off at GameHoleCon, so I didn’t get to meet them. After chatting with Nathan Stewart, the Senior Director of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, and getting to see some behind the scenes look at some upcoming products, Trevor and I sat down to chat about D&D.

We talked about the blogging community, how important and wide-spread it was in the 4th edition era, and how it’s fallen out of popularity in favor of live-streaming and Tweeting. I know that I find it easier to post up on Twitter in a series of short tweets rather than writing up long WordPress posts.

We also talked about the D&D book release schedule. I’ve found it really refreshing to only have a book come out every couple of months. It makes it more likely for me to pick up every book. Previously, trying to pick up at least one book a month was painful on the wallet. Trevor and Nathan confirmed that this is purposeful, as previously, D&D players had to specifically choose which books they’d pick up. Now, with the more spread-out releases, they can pick up every one.

I asked why there aren’t any setting books, a question a lot of D&D players ask about. Trevor pointed out that setting books are out there for most settings people want, in both 3e and 4e book form. By keeping their books set in the most popular setting, The Forgotten Realms, while providing sidebars for how to adapt the adventure to another world, it is more accessible to more people. If they come out with a Dark Sun or Dragonlance setting book, the only people who will pick up the book are people interested in Dark Sun or Dragonlance, a smaller piece of the pie than the D&D community as a whole. By coming out with books like Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, they provide a product most people can use in their games, no matter the setting.

We talked about a few other things, but the sun began to go down, and it was time to leave. I was provided an armful of swag to take home, and sent out the door.

I’m hoping to, next time I’m over in the Renton area, to set up some actual interviews with Trevor and the other minds at Wizards, so keep an eye out for that, hopefully, in the future. I’d like to thank Trevor for his hospitality and for this great opportunity.

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