Recently going through Twitter I saw a lot of the people we follow really excited about a Kickstarter that had just launched. That game Kickstarter is Power Outage, a kid-friendly, kid-focused, Supers RPG that focused on accessibility, teamwork, and fun. So, even though I am already way over Kickstarter budget for the year I had to back this game. So, I did. Then, I reached out to the creator because I wanted to hear more about what this game was about and why the creator had chosen to develop this particular game.
So, first, Bebarce, tell us a bit about yourself and why Power Outage? Is this your first foray into writing RPGs?
So my name is Bebarce El-Tayib. I'm a supervisor of technology for a school district in NJ. Originally Power Outage came about with my (then 4 and 6 year old) daughters continuously stealing my poly dice. I figured, if they were going to have them, I might as well come up with a game for them to play. Dungeons and Dragons, as enjoyable as it was, didn't fit my needs exactly, and when I started out, I wasn't aware as much about what was out there, so we built a miniature game from the ground up with very simple rules. After thinking back over the fun we had, I decided that I'd like to really see this game become something that encourages parents to play with their kids, in a form of structured/unstructured imaginative play. Over time, that simple game developed and redeveloped, and morphed into what the game is now, and likewise, so too did it's promise.
This is definitely my first foray into writing RPGs, but not my first foray into writing or game design. This is the first time however that I've committed myself so wholeheartedly to a single purpose for such an extended period of time.
You mention accessibility and wanting to develop a product with this focus. Tell us more about what this means for you and for Power Outage?
While there is a part of me that has attachments to people in my life that have disabilities, I believe that it's importants not just for me, but for all of us to endeavor as best we can to create more inclusive and accessible environments. We don't always succeed, but it's important that we try, regardless of whether we directly connect to a person with disabilities. I've been attending a fantastic series of conventions in NJ by Dexposure (Metatopia, Dreamation, and Dexcon) and the focus and effort they put in accommodations shows. It shows on the faces of people who feel invited, and who feel welcome without exclusion. Tabletop Roleplaying games become a haven for many of us. A place to express our emotions through our avatars, to connect to other people, to gain a sense of being something. Making sure EVERYONE has access to that same feeling? That's pretty much the most important task we should all be undertaking.
Power Outage is tackling it in two ways. Within the book I have a small amount of generalized guidance on Accommodations that are divided into 5 primary domains other than general guidance (Physical, Communicative/Receptive, Behavioral, Cognitive, and Emotional). The idea was to approach things from a symptomatic approach rather than focusing on particular conditions. Addressing the effect, and providing guidance and support for that, without focusing on the cause. I've found it to be the best method for creating a large net of coverage of disability accommodations than just focusing on a single condition. But secondly the book refers back to a website that I set up called www.accessible-rpg.com. It's not much yet, and what is there currently is geared toward gaming with kids. It's a wiki that still needs a lot of revision, guidance, and thoughtfulness. Most importantly it needs input directly from people within the community. People that have disabilities. Once I finish this Kickstarting campaign, my focus will most likely shift back to that site, while my designer and artist work on the book.
What do you want to accomplish with this Kickstarter in particular?
This Kickstarter specifically is an attempt to fund the cost of a designer, editor, and artist, with whatever is left over going toward miscellaneous production costs. The honest truth is with enough time, I could probably release the book with much less art, and my somewhat shoddy design skills. I don't believe however, that this is what Power Outage deserves. I believe the system is great, and it has a lot of promise. I don't want it to be chained by my inability to make it stand out among a stack of other TRPGs. I believe we have something really special here, that I'm willing to dedicate my life to, and that means reaching out to others to get it to where it needs to be.
Have you looked into connecting with RPG Research, Wheelhouse Workshop, or any of the other RPG therapy groups out there? This seems like a game that would really help their practices.
I think it would! I've talked to RPG Research about the wiki, primarily and again because I want to ensure that the guidance I'm providing is sound, functional, relevant, and non-offensive. To this point, I've also partnered up with some local professionals that I know through my work in public education that are doctors in the fields of counseling and psychology. When I have a book, that I am confident will benefit the community as a whole, I'll do everything within my means to ensure that they have enough resources to play the game. I've also communicated with some great twitter community members to help refine and restructure guidance.But yeah, I think this would work fantastically in a counseling setting, and the professionals I work with agree. One aspect of the game, aside from it's flexibility in rule structures, is the concept of meta weaknesses applied to villains. In this way, achievements that occur outside of the game, can have an impact within. This helps bridge the gap between personal goals and game goals, and slots in perfectly as an educational aide.
If you had one thing that you wanted to leave us with today, what would that be?
There are a couple things to know about kids. They're more capable then they're often given credit for. They often think in circles around squares. And they are the next generation of players that will be sitting at your tables. This is our opportunity to use our games to impact the up and coming generation. To help give shape to the importance of empathy. Of teamwork. Of dedication to a cause. To the nobility of altruism. And we can do so, while having a pretty fun time of it. So get out there and be a hero to some kid. Help them learn about the hero they're meant to be.
Thank you Bebarce for telling us more about Power Outage. If you are interested in learning more you can go to the Kickstarter and become a backer.
Josh Heath is the COO of this outfit. He’s also organizing HLG Con. www.hlgcon.com in Atlantic City October 12-14th. Come join us!
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.