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D&D 5E Kate Welch on Leaving WotC

Kate Welch left Wizards of the Coast a few days ago, on August 16th. Soon after, she talked a little about it in a live-stream.

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She started work at WotC as a game designer back in February 2018, and has contributed to various products since then, such as Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Descent into Avernus, as well as being a participant in WotC's livestreams. In December 2019, her job changed to that of 'senior user experience designer'.

"I mentioned yesterday that I have some big news that I wouldn't be able to share until today.

The big news that I have to share with you today is that I ... this is difficult, but ... I quit my job at Wizards of the Coast. I no longer work at Wizards. Today was my last day. I haven't said it out loud yet so it's pretty major. I know... it's a big change. It's been scary, I have been there for almost three years, not that long, you know, as far as jobs go, and for a while there I really was having a good time. It's just not... it wasn't the right fit for me any more.

So, yeah, I don't really know what's next. I got no big plans. It's a big deal, big deal .... and I wanted to talk to you all about it because you're, as I've mentioned before, a source of great joy for me. One of the things that has been tough reckoning with this is that I've defined myself by Dungeons & Dragons for so long and I really wanted to be a part of continuing to make D&D successful and to grow it, to have some focus especially on new user experience, I think that the new user experience for Dungeons & Dragons is piss poor, and I've said that while employed and also after quitting.

But I've always wanted to be a part of getting D&D into the hands of more people and helping them understand what a life-changing game it is, and I hope I still get the chance to do that. But as of today I'm unemployed, and I also wanted to be upfront about it because I have this great fear that because Dungeons & Dragons has been part of my identity, professionally for the last three years almost, I was worried that a lot of you'll would not want to follow me any more because I'm not at Wizards, and there's definitely some glamourous aspects to being at Wizards."


She went on to talk about the future, and her hopes that she'll still be be able to work with WotC.

"I'm excited about continuing to play D&D, and hopefully Wizards will still want me to appear on their shows and stuff, we'll see, I have no idea. But one thing that I'm really excited about is that now I can play other TTRPGs. There's a policy that when you're a Wizards employee you can't stream other tabletop games. So there was a Call of Cthulhu game that we did with the C-team but we had to get very special permission for it, they were like OK but this is only a one time thing. I get it, you know, it's endorsing the competition or whatever, but I'm super excited to be able to have more freedom about the kinds of stuff that I'm getting involved with."
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Im not sure Im following you here. I dont really see the difference between to two other than the surveys seem to back up what I said?
"They have three starter sets and people are live-streaming" does not mean that WotC shouldn't be working to make the game easier for people to pick up without any of that.

It's their job.

If they are farming things out to Matt Mercer and saying "well, this starter set has Rick & Morty, so everyone should be able to learn the game now" instead of, you know, going through terminology and presentation and other elements of the game to make it easy to play without third parties getting involved, they have failed.

Successful corporations spend a ton of energy on this. (Look up how much an interface designer makes in Silicon Valley -- making things easier for the user is seen as critical in most places.)

She wasn't talking about anything strange or unusual; she was just applying the same sort of logic and reasoning used in every other business in America.
 

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Sunsword

Adventurer
She must either have a lot of money put aside or be VERY optimistic. I could not imagine leaving even an abusive or dangerous job in this climate

Pure hypothesis here: She may be hoping that her streaming numbers are high enough, after WotC, that she can do her own thing.

I also wonder if her leaving has anything to do with Orion's experience?

Wish her well either way.
 


Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
I hope she doesn't think that stepping away from WotC is the end. Many of the most successful third-party designers walked away from WotC to start their own shop, have still collaborated with WotC from time to time, and their ex-WotC street cred did nothing but help them. To me, ex-WotC usually means "this will be mechanically and editorially solid, and more interesting and creative than anything that comes out of WotC itself".

And I know what it's like to step away from a job at a difficult time. I decided to resign from my job in March of this year, and finally pulled the trigger in May (and was coincidentally fired the same day). I'd made the mistake of taking a promotion into a job I was very unsuited for and unhappy in. It happens, and sometimes you have to do it even in a down economy.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Re: New User Experience

I wonder if the D&D side could learn something from the intro things the MtG side has on arena . For free, it hand holds you through the steps of the game and guides you through new concepts. (The D&D essentials is a lot nicer than the PhB, MM, DMG... but that's kind of like saying an MtG planeswalker deck is nicer than a booster box of cards and a TCG player gift certificate. It still doesn't teach the game). Of course then arena makes money off of itself once it's hooked people.

As far as comparing it to other things, how many folks actually buy and teach themselves a totally new board game without having played it with friends first, unless they're really into the hobby?
 

But with everything out or coming out (Choose Your Own Adventure Books, multiple Starter Sets, new Board Games) along with the online resources, I would be at a loss to figure out what more to do.
There have been some very good suggestions already made, including cleaning up legacy terms like "level," which are used in so many different ways that even veteran players sometimes get confused which is meant.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
There is a game store around the corner from my house and my neighbors younger brother started playing there. As far as I know because he was new to the game and just learning he was treated really poorly, and no effort was made to help him learn the game. So much that he quit playing there and found another game at another store not too far away but quit that one as well due to problems getting there every week. Some people treat as a Good Old Boys club, if youre not one of them your not welcome.
Sadly, gatekeeping is a very real part of our hobby.
 



Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
Agreed. I mean, hell, I'm not going to put in that much work to learn a new game. D&D is grandfathered in because I learned it 30 years ago and I can draw on that framework of knowledge for each new edition.
This is one of the reasons many groups are D&D all-the-time, as the work required to learn and master a new game system is too much for them. D&D isn't the only RPG with a high learning curve!
 


Dragonhelm

Knight of Solamnia
Please keep in mind that there are two sides to every story. As a corporate entity, WotC will NOT be discussing any personnel changes with the public. Nor should they for legal reasons.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
Publisher
I'm currently running two campaigns for groups of new players. Both groups have one player with experience.

The new player experience is god awful. Its terrible. Its trash. The books are laid out poorly, and since we play over zoom cuz some of us are scattered, they have to navigate DnD Beyond, and that doesn't make things any easier, even with a subscription and content sharing.

The terms are confusing to new players. Saving throw? DC? AC? Even after explaining it for 3-4 sessions people are still confused. D&D takes a lot of buy in and is in no way intuitive for the new player. They have to struggle against what they can and cannot do (which is nothing, they can do anything, that's what you have to convince them!) and the book does a bad job of doing this.

All you people saying the new user experience is great are living in a completely different world from a significant subset of the world.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Im not sure Im following you here. I dont really see the difference between to two other than the surveys seem to back up what I said?
The difference is that “easier than ever to get started” is relative to how easy it has been in the past, and may still be a long way from “easy for complete newcomers to get started in the game without someone helping them,” if the game has always been hard to get into.
 




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