Why you Should be Watching 'The Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour' on D&D Design

Todd Kenreck: At some point in D&D you may find yourself wanting to create your own subclass or even entirely different rules and that's kind of the subject of Mike's Happy Fun Hour. It demystifies the process of creating new content for D&D.

Mike Mearls: The Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour it is one to two on Tuesday's, Pacific time. What I do each week is take a game element for fifth edition D&D and I design it in front of you. I've experimented with the format a little bit, usually I start with a blank page, sometimes I'll start with some notes, one time I just showed off like here's a subclass I designed and then just walked through the design of it so I'm still kind of finding like what's the best format, but yeah. Basically if you were ever curious to see like what's the thought process behind that first draft of material that's what this hour is meant to show. It's also frankly meant to show a lot of failures in that I want to encourage people to ... Like I think people have this sense that if you're doing games professionally that it just comes easy and you just do it and it's just done.

I remember reading about this a few years ago and if you're out there if you've heard of this it's very common but maybe not everyone's heard of it, this idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. I think a lot of people have a fixed mindset about game design, they just think you're either good at it or you're bad at it and that's kind of the thing with a fixed mindset is you think that what you are today is just what you are. Like if you're not good at something well that's just the way it is, I'm not good at this. A growth mindset is one that says, "Well I need to work at it to improve," you see the path ahead of you rather than the destination.

What I'm hoping this does is encourages that more growth mindset amongst people when they think of D&D or home brewing or even game design whether just for fun or professionally and they understand that there's no magic behind game design that it's not just like, oh I'm a good game designer that means I just do good things. Being a good game designer means you do a lot of things, some of which are good, most of which are not useful.

There's an old story about a college professor who's teaching a course in pottery and he divided his students into two groups. One group he told you'll be graded based on the single best piece of pottery you make this term, the other group he told, you'll be graded based on the volume of pottery you create, just create as many pots as possible. What ended up happening was the group that was told to create volume created the best pottery. They not only had a lot of pieces they made but their best piece was better than the students that just focused one really good, you know showing off only their best piece.

There's real truth in the idea of growth mindset of just keep trying, keep working, keep improving. The more you do something the better you get at it which sounds obvious if you've played Dungeons and Dragons or like your character levels up by doing stuff. It's easy in our personal lives to lose sight of that and just think, "Oh I just can't game, I tried writing this thing, it didn't work out, oh I'm just bad at this." Well of course you're bad at it, you haven't done it before, now do it a hundred more times and tell me how you feel about it. Right? That's the key so I'm hopping it's encouraging people to see that.



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