Roger Peters Wins by Playing the Long Game Being Nice | Episode 316

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Roger Peters also known as Rook, owner of Epic Sages, an Army veteran, a husband and a father of 2. He lives in Fairbanks Alaska. He loves teaching and introducing people to TTRPGs (tabletop role-playing games) like DnD (Dungeons and Dragons). He is a consistent learner and constantly evolves himself and his business with new technology.

 

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Full episode transcription

Rob: Hey, engagers, and welcome back to another episode of the Professor Game podcast. And we have Roger with us today. But Roger, before we take off, are you prepared to engage?
Roger: I’m prepared to engage.
Rob: Let’s do this. We have Roger Peters with us now, also known as Rook. He’s the owner of Epic Sages, an army veteran and a husband and a father of two. He lives, and we were discussing this in the pre interview chat in Fairbanks, Alaska. The first person I talked to who lives, and I’m not sure if you are from Alaska as well, but in any case, it is definitely a first.
Rob: He loves teaching and introducing people to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, and is a consistent learner and constantly evolves himself and his business with new technology. But Roger, is there anything aside from that quick intro that you would like to make sure that we know well?
Roger: So I’m not originally from Alaska. I moved here about ten ish years ago with the army and then got out up here, bought a house, got married, all that fun stuff, and stuck around up here. So that’s about it for the Alaska side of things, stuff you should know. Epic sages have been running going on three years now, so we’re still a relatively new business, but we’re making ends meet and doing all kinds of fun stuff. So I think that’s all that needs to be gone over.
Roger: Be warned, I am a nerd, so prepare for nerdy conversation.
Rob: Yeah, that’s probably going to be a significant part of our audience as well. Well, I don’t know. Like Nerd used to be a term that was demeaning in some way. I think nowadays there’s more and more. I’ve been surprised by seeing TV shows and that kind of stuff more and more.
Rob: Sort of. The main characters are not the typical nerd that you see in the nerds movie, right. I’m not sure I would have completely identified with those. Even though I am an engineer, I do like games and many other things that they do in any ways, but nowadays it’s sort of a bit more streamlined.
Roger: I think nowadays, if we’re going to get into normal topics, it’s more geek than nerd. Right. Geeks are way more accepted because it’s fun to be geeky. If you’re still doing C Plus plus, you’re a nerd and you’ll get treated like nerds have always been treated, unfortunately. So whatever.
Rob: Exactly. That’s kind of the gist I was getting to in many ways. But we would like to know now that you said that you’re a geek and nerd. However you want to frame or phrase this, we want to know what does your regular day look like? What are you doing in a day?
Rob: Like, I don’t know, today, tomorrow, last week, whatever you want to go for.
Roger: Got you. So usually I wake up relatively early in the morning, get my youngest ready for preschool. Now, he just started a week or two ago, so we’re super excited with that. Get him ready, get him on the bus, then go back inside, get my other kiddo ready for school, get her dropped off at school, and then I get a few hours of free time for work to do whatever the heck I need, set interviews, call people, get orders ordered out and all that fun stuff with our suppliers. Then I go over and pick up my son, do some more work while he’s playing around at the house, then go get my daughter, hang out with them, do fun things for a few hours, and then the wife gets home.
Roger: And then I get to work. Whether that’s doing our own podcast, our stuff on YouTube, dealing with clients, doing games and things like that, just interacting on the social media side of things, that’s a pretty typical day. And then I stay up till midnight, plus goofing around, playing games and.
Rob: Amazing, amazing. So quick gist, like, what are you doing at Epic sages? Just for the audience to know what you’re up to.
Roger: Got you. So at Epic Sages, we’re a TTRPG hosting site. So we teach people how to play D D Pathfinder, Starfinder, basically anything where you roll dice and play a silly character. We teach you how to play those all that fun stuff. And then we get games together and run those games.
Roger: So we do the hard part, the thinking, the storytelling, all that fun stuff, and the players just get to sit back, relax, do their thinG. We also teach people how to do what we do and all that fun stuff. So the day consists of all that, and then we do a lot of other things that sell all the nerd adjacent it’s to it, like dice Towers and dice and all that. So recently I’ve been doing a ton of vendor work, which is going to pop up stores and that kind of thing to do the more physical in person stuff.
Rob: Interesting. Sounds like a dream job for more than one in our audience, for sure.
Roger: I would say that’s 99.
Rob: Kind of the dream in many ways. Yeah.
Roger: I get to say that being to be mostly a stay at home dad is fantastic. Big bonuses there.
Rob: Absolutely. So, Roger, you know, we like to talk about how we use games for things that go beyond the game itself. So not just for the entertainment, but things that happen in and around games, beyond games and so on. So I’m guessing that you do have some experience on that as well. But we want to go not only to one of those experiences, we actually want to go to the worst of those experiences.
Rob: One of those times when you were trying to do something and everything went sideways. We want to understand. We especially want to live that story with you, which I’m guessing is not going to be difficult, you being the storyteller that you definitely are. We want to be there, live that story with you, and of course, understand a little bit more of what you learned, the lessons we can take away from that got you.
Roger: So in a gamifying sense, that went wrong. Right? Just to clarify what I’m talking about here.
Rob: Yeah.
Roger: Okay, so let’s talk about getting products for starting our dice side of things, right? So, learning and growing in that way. So we started it out at level zero with zero experience and finding an appropriate supplier that could a deliver to us. Because lots of places don’t deliver to people unless they have a physical location that isn’t a house. Like they have to have a legitimate shop somewhere.
Roger: And that’s not generally how we operate, because it helps us keep our profitability at a good pace, at least at this point. So finding a supplier that would supply to us and get to us and all that fun stuff so we could get started and going with products to sell to people, because it’s hard to make money when you don’t have things to sell. So we had a lot of fails at level zero. A lot of not being able to find people or getting suppliers that would just overcharge just to get us our products and services and things like that. So it took us about half a year before we found a good group of people that kept us supplied for our various stuff that we buy and sell.
Roger: But in that half a year, we wasted a good amount of money finding the right people, the right places, the right things, and we had a lot of setbacks. We had those low level items that people are happy to pick up, but not happy to keep and display. Right? Whereas now we sell a tad bit higher end stuff that looks nice and you’re happy to show in your home and show off to your friends, that kind of thing.
Rob: Amazing. And given that experience that you guys had, what would you have done perhaps different when you were at that point? Would you have started differently? Or was it an experience that you think you needed to have when I tell you this, what comes to your mind? Essentially.
Roger: So I think it’s something we needed to go through. We have business friends that we met through the blocks, which was a TV show we were on in our first year of business, and we met some wonderful people, and they introduced us to some stuff and things, but not knowing who they were connected to personally set us back a little bit. So having to go through and forge those connections on a supplier and supply e side and making those friends and people that will work with you and setting up that repertoire, we’re going to say repertoire with these suppliers was super important, and learning how to deal with them on an appropriate level, just like any other retail stuff, we deal with customers that are a pain in the butt and aren’t appreciative for the work that you do and be complaining about all kinds of sillinEss. We learn not to be those guys because obviously the other people at the other end of the line are humans, too, and you get much better results being thankful and grateful and yada, yada, than why haven’t you done this? What’s wrong with you?
Roger: Yada, yada. You know what I mean? If you can avoid that and not stress the other people on the far end of line, they’re going to be better for you. And some of that was just learning that we can’t be upset when things go wrong, because if you get upset, people just say, f, you have a nice day, whereas if you’re appreciative and thankful and whatnot, they’re much more willing to help you and get you what you need.
Rob: Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. And you were mentioning some of this, and I’m currently teaching a supply chain course.
Roger: Oh, nice.
Rob: Many of the things you were mentioning definitely come to my mind when I’m talking with my students. They’re business students, bachelor’s. So it’s an interesting bunch for sure. It would be interesting to see specifically some of the lessons. There perhaps could be something that we could discuss at some point with a class.
Rob: For sure. Many of those problems are precisely as you were saying. It’s not understanding that on the other end, no matter if it’s a supplier, if it’s a customer, whatever they are, a business in general is not a business. It’s a bunch of people. You need to understand that they behave according to the same incentives that you do as a human.
Rob: Well, maybe not the same ones, but they respond as humans just as you do. So it’s good to keep that in mind at any and all points that no matter how technical things get, because in supply chain operations, there’s a lot of technical stuff going on, there could be a lot of numbers. There is still a human behind the other side, or a bunch of humans or whatever that looks like. So you always have to keep that behavioral idea that what you do has consequences. The interactions you make do have a consequence on those suppliers and those customers.
Rob: The way you set up things, your employees are going to behave in a certain way depending on that. So keeping that in mind, beyond being an HR person, which is a completely different thing and a different subject, there are many things that you do have to keep in mind when thinking about altitudes, as you were definitely saying.
Roger: Right. Well, and I mean, on that note, I’d much rather be remembered for the customer that made someone’s day than someone that made their day worse. Have it be the highlight of their day with their interaction with me and not the worst thing that happened to them today.
Rob: Absolutely. And again, the thing is, you have arrived to that conclusion of it’s better to be on the good side. Like the question, I think it was, I think they mentioned this on House of Dragons and one of these, like, what is it better to be feared or loved? Well, at least in this case, I don’t know about being in the monarchy or whatever, but at least in this case, I would say that it’s definitely better to be loved because people probably go out of their way or there’s a chance that they go out of their way to help you out rather than if they fear you. It’s like, well, maybe I’ll do it.
Rob: Maybe I’ll just hang up the phone and see what happens. Let somebody else deal with it kind of thing.
Roger: Right, exactly. If you love, people are much more apt to be kind and be helpful than if you’re feared. They’re more likely to be like someone else’s problem. Have a nice day.
Rob: Yeah, totally. So let’s actually flip that around for a time that things went well again in this world of games, in this world, especially if there’s anything on gamification that you can have for us as well. Something that went, you were trying to do something. And again, the first or the Nth attempt, it doesn’t matter. It went well because we want to live that story with you again and perhaps see some of the lessons that you got from that.
Roger: So lessons in persistence. Right. We talk about grinding and doing things with our vendor events. I’m not going to specify which one I’m talking about, but I definitely get annoying at times with people when trying to get into these things because they get booked up fast. And so I will persistently email, hey, is there a spot open especially for ones that are folded, are popular and recently I got us into one that last last minute like Day of kind of thing.
Roger: They’re like, hey, we got a spot, do you want it? You’ve messaged us about spots and I was like, heck yeah, let’s get in there. And it was a couple of day event and we made the most money we’ve ever made in a single day. And most money we’ve ever made in a single day in the two day event. It was fantastic.
Roger: Super cool thing. It was a huge uplift for our products after that event. We got a whole bunch of new stuff in. We got to try a whole bunch of different things again, talk to new suppliers and things like that just because we had money to start dealing with them. And that was super great.
Roger: And that’s on the physical side of things. That’s not even the service side of things that we do, but physical side of things. That’s probably one of our most exciting things because it was literally we were signed up for another event that was doing terrible, like there for 8 hours and sold one thing kind of thing and they’re like, hey, you want to come to our done there? Did it and it was fantastic. Blew it out of the water, had a great time, all that fun stuff.
Rob: Amazing. And what would you say to get you there? I have my guesses of what you were going to say, but what do you think led you to be able to be in that position?
Roger: Well, again, being nice about stuff, following through on things and rechecking on stuff really helped. Again, persistent grinding, making sure that you’re keeping in contact with people after you say you will, doing that checkup that you’re supposed to do, even if it’s last minute, to make sure things are yes, no, maybe so. So there’s solid answers. Making sure that people do give you an answer. It’s okay to double text as long as the intention is to get a response right, not just for validation.
Rob: Amazing. Good lessons there. So again, we’ve got to, through all the experience that you’ve had, many of the things that you’ve been doing, you’re a game master as well, Dungeon Master and whatnot. What would you say is when you face a problem and you want to solve it essentially using games or whatnot? Do you have a process like what’s your mental system or how does it happen?
Rob: We want to get into your head and see how that Looks.
Roger: So the worst part about being me is I am really good at improv. So things come to me in the moment, and then we run things and go, I’m very action orientated, and I have my company set up to be that way to teach other people how to be action orientated. So they are moving and grooving and moving with the flow, because that’s how things do well. But as for a process, in simplest terms, when we come up to a problem, we’ll say, in this case, a client isn’t having a fun time. Right?
Roger: They’ve told you as Much. They’re like, look, I don’t know if I want to come back or something along those lines, because I’m just not vibing with the group or whatnot. The first step is always communication, right? You talk in, figure out what’s going on, where they’re having issues at, what their problem is. Because sometimes it’s just like, I don’t feel like paying this Money for the thing.
Roger: And you know what? SometiMEs you just can’t pay money for the thing, right. And We Let Them know that’s okay. We Let Them know that what they’re feeling is all right. We Push through what they can do.
Roger: Few possible solutions for like, hey, are you making sure you’re applying discounts? Are you making Sure that you’re doing this down? The other thing to make sure you’re doing good. And if it’s like a social thing between two people, like Player A and Player B just don’t get along because their characters don’t mesh well. Or player B is always super energetic and steals all the limelight or stuff like that.
Roger: That allows us to go to player B and have a conversation with them and kind of settle any problems they might have there and then resolve stuff as we go along because, I mean, worse comes worse. You break a grew up up or pull people off or things like that to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Because if they’re a paying customer, you know, I what mean they’re not just doing it for the funsies in their heart, they have an expectation that they’re trying to hit. They’re trying to have a good time, and we want to make sure everyone is doing so as they’re playing these silly games with us or serious games, whatever.
Rob: Silly, serious. Sometimes what people tend to call serious games can be silly or not, but they can actually mean a lot. Right. So this seriousness that you mentioned is sometimes exactly what this needs. Even though, again, games and people think games are not serious, they can actually do so much.
Rob: It makes such a huge difference.
Roger: Yeah. So, I mean, on that note, we use a lot of our stuff as kind of. We call it cheap therapy because you get to act out and do things that aren’t necessarily something you would do in real life, or you get to relive events that are similar to what you had in real life without it being an unwelcoming situation. It’s a safe space kind of area. You can do whatever you want, good, bad, or indifferent, and you’re either going to have fun and you’re not really going to get judged for what you do.
Roger: Or if you are judged, it’s because you’re murdering babies and that’s not okay. We give you the kibosh to that. But you know what I mean, it’s a good place to learn and grow as a person. On a small scale, it can help you work through things. Being a veteran and working with veterans, because we’re a veteran.
Roger: Remedy. My business partner is a veteran. A lot of this we use to help our friends to play games to get past those traumatic moments in their life, whether that’s to just forget about them or to relive something similar in a spot where they’re not going to have a bad time. We’re not therapists or anything like that, so we don’t claim anything that’s going to help you thing. But I have Noticed, as someone who plays the games, that these really do help with those kind of situations a lot of the time.
Roger: And so if we can help people, we are happy to do so, especially if it’s through our storytelling.
Rob: Well, it sounds absolutely amazing. Well, I’m sure it’s intentional in many ways, but even though it’s not sort of the center or the core of your business, you do think about these things more often than not, and it allows you to be able to help these people in different ways. Does that make sense?
Roger: Yeah, totally. And I mean kind of on that line. One of our targets, we’ll say, is getting families to connect because one of our big things is getting families to play together. We make a joke that our business model is kind of terrible because we encourage people to play with us for five to ten sessions and then take their story over for themselves. Now, if they love us and stick with us forever, we’re happy to take your money and play with you for as long as you want to play with us kind of thing.
Roger: But the intention is for you to get to a point where you feel confident enough to play these games at home with your family, right, to have fun and then come back to us when you want to learn something new or get stuff for the games or need advice or help, yada, yada, yada. But having a fantastic bond with mother and son, or father and son, or just the whole family, right? So I grew up and I played these games middle of teenage years, so 15 forward with my parents and I still play them to this day. Any chance we get time for all my family to get together.
Rob: Nice.
Roger: We play online or in person. If I’m visiting, we’re all in the same place. I come from a very mixed family and so we live in lots of places now. They’ve all kind of split up and gone their separate ways, but we still make time for each other. So that’s been a very important part of my life and I am glad I get to share it with other people.
Rob: That sounds amazing. That sounds amazing. And I’m happy that you say it and that you say it that way. Because what’s good for business is not only the only thing that you want to think about sometimes it’s good for business. Something that doesn’t just bring you an immediate return right now, but getting people to feel better with you, and that’s eventually it’s going to be good for business as well.
Rob: So I think, at least in my opinion, what I’ve experienced and what I’ve studied as well, that’s the best way forward in most ways at least. Roger, again, you’ve had plenty of interesting experiences with this and your approach with games and the way you set them up is quite interesting as well. So I’m going to ask you for something that you might call a best practice or whatever you think any project that is thinking of using games in this or that way, again, probably beyond entertainment, could benefit from, again, from this game designer perspective, game Master perspective, whatever you want to dig into to bring us this best practice or this thing that you do or you think should be done to do things better, at least.
Roger: So employees first. From a business standpoint, putting your employees first is always going to be the most successful practice for your business. Not to self pitch too much, but one of the programs that we do for businesses is we run games for businesses. So, like, instead of doing a pizza party, we play D D or Pathfinder, Starfighter, whatever the business wants to run for up to 4 hours, or we break it up over a week where everyone in the building gets to play for an hour or two at a time. And one of our cool things that we like to throw in there is we make sure that the employers are throwing in, hey, if you get this specific item, you get a day off or an extra 15 Minutes break or some silly item from us or something from the company themselves, gift cards, stuff like that, that’s sponsored by the company, so the employees know that, hey, we’re not just playing a game to waste time during work hours.
Roger: We are also getting something of benefit from the company because the company cares about us and making sure that employers are ready to do that for their people, especially nowadays. Retention is such an important part of keeping a business moving and grooving that if you just ignore your employees and move on to the next ones, you’re going to spend so much money in training and trying to find people and Yada, yada, yada, that you’re going to go broke that way.
Rob: So having that so difficult for businesses to understand.
Roger: Yeah, well, I mean, it’s crazy to me, as someone who’s seen this, that you can watch companies just drop off because they can’t keep people because they have one person that doesn’t care, ruining everything for them. If you’re not willing to give your employees time for stuff and things and let them enjoy themselves while they’re in a workspace, or maybe even after workspace, but you sponsor it kind of thing, why are you having employees? You want robots, not people.
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very good one. And there’s so many ways, especially when we’re talking about using games in different ways, that sort of link back to this recommendation that you’re giving. So I think it’s a fantastic recommendation to think of people first. And again, there’s plenty of solutions in the area that could definitely work for doing exactly that.
Rob: So thanks for that recommendation, Roger. And talking about recommendations, who would you like to listen to? Is there a person, after hearing these questions that you say, well, this person would be really interesting to listen to as a guest on professor game?
Roger: Oh, man, that’s a hard question. And I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs now that would fill the spot fantastically and kind of fit in there really well. Someone that you might be able to connect with in the near future is someone from the school network that we’re in called Andrew Cook. I don’t know if you’ve read any of his stuff or checked him out at all. Andrew Cook?
Roger: Yeah, he’s in the school network. I think he would do well in here as well.
Rob: I’ll definitely look him up. And if you have any contact with him and you think he would be a great guest, I would definitely be happy to have him on the podcast. So, Roger, let’s keep up with the recommendations. Is there a book that you would recommend an audience like this one? Like the.
Roger: Oh, well, do you want something funny or something?
Rob: You know, it can be funny if it’s useful or for inspiration or for know, thinking of something else and brings you inspiration for games? I don’t know, like, whatever you want to go for.
Roger: That’s a hard one. There’s lots of good books. One of my go to series that I recommend for everyone to read at least once, just to kind of get into a fantastical mindset that mixes kind of all kinds of genres together to make something fantastic, is the Dragon Riders of Pern series. It’s not much of a business thing, but it’s definitely something you can read late at night before you go to bed and have good dreams kind of thing about adventure and dragons and all kinds of silliness. So, yeah, Dragon Riders of Pern is a good series to do.
Roger: As for books themselves that you should read, that’s hard because there’s a lot of good choices out there.
Rob: You said the Dragon Riders of.
Roger: Yeah, dragon Riders of Pern.
Rob: P-E-R-N-P-E-R-N. I’ll put that down. So, as far as books, we have the Dragon Riders of Pern. What would you say in your case, in this world where you’re at with all these things that you do, what would you say is your superpower, that thing that you do, at least better than most other people?
Roger: I have to say it’s improv. Being able to adapt to most situations as quickly as possible is something I excel at. I don’t necessarily finish things at the best, but things get done. I’m one of those people that improvises things with duct tape a lot, both literally and metaphorically, until things work out. You know what I mean?
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So now we get to a very difficult question, especially for a guy like you, and as are most of our guests. What would you say, Roger, is your favorite game?
Roger: My favorite game. So do you want a video game, a tabletop game? What kind of game do you want?
Rob: That is up to you, man.
Roger: Someone asked me this the other day, and I’d have to say that going way back to the PlayStation Two, Star Wars Battlefront Two was probably something I played hundreds or thousands of hours on my own, just playing that game and having fun. So that one was probably one of my favorites. It’s hard because there’s just so many that I still do. I mean, heck, I’ve been playing for honor since it came out in Alpha version. I love that game, but it also drives me crazy.
Roger: So, favorite? I don’t know, but it’s there. And then obviously DND as a tabletop role playing game, regardless of the addition, sorry, not generation is always going to hold a soft spot in my heart. If it ever goes under and people stop playing it, there will still be thousands of thousands of hours of stories of me and the people I’ve been playing with out there in the world that people will remember forever.
Rob: Yeah, that’s true. That’s definitely true. So, Roger, we don’t want to let you go before you tell us where we can find out more about you, your work, the stuff that you’re doing. Of course, if you have any final words, any advice. I don’t know, anything.
Rob: This is sort of your time before we go to the end of the interview.
Roger: Gotcha. Well, so my big thing is remember to have fun. Whether you’re at work, whether at school, whatever. If you’re not having fun, you’re having a bad time. That’s not good.
Roger: You got to fix that. A lot of the time, fun is just a mindset. You can have an adventure going to the grocery store. You just got to remember to have it. As such, having that childlike excitement for the little things is going to make you a happier person in the long run.
Roger: Always be thankful for what you got because that’ll keep you going. As for where you can find me, I am all over the place. Basically any social media that there is. You’ll find epic sages on there, posting once a month if we’re lucky. Actually, we post quite a bit on lots of places, but it’s more automated, like, hey, there’s a podcast coming uP.
Roger: Oh, hey, here’s a YouTube video. That kind of stuff. But I do my best to also do like real person posts every once in a while on our stuff. But yeah, basically any major social media you’ll find us on under Epic sages of some sort. Sometimes there’s an underscore.
Roger: Most of the time there’s not. If you are interested or a gamer. We’re on Twitch. We stream usually at least once a week, unless people are sick or players can’t show up or something like that. We do two games on one week and our podcast on the other.
Roger: Both of them are on Twitch, then you’ll find them on YouTube later. Yeah, so we’re all over the place, so you can find us just about anywhere. Our website is www.epicsages.com. If you’re a discord user, you can come find us in the Epicsages discord. I’m sure there will be links attached to this video somewhere, and if you want to join us there, I’m happy to talk to you directly.
Roger: As mentioned earlier on, I go by rook online, so if you need anything talking to Rook, you’re going to talk to me. Yeah, those are ways to find us and interact with us. We appreciate any and all people checking us out.
Rob: Sounds amazing. Thanks for all of that and definitely something to be checking out in the future for sure. So, Roger, I know it’s been a blast, at least for me, hopefully as well for you and the engagers. However, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over engagers. Thank you for listening to the Professor Game podcast and I hope you enjoyed this guest, this week’s guests, Roger and we’d like to know if you have any questions that you would like to ask other guests.
Rob: If you do, please go to Professorgame.com Slash question and ask that question. Once it is selected, it’ll come up in a future episode where the guest will have an interesting answer to it because it will be related to their work and you will get that answer live during an episode. And remember, before you go on to your next mission, please remember to subscribe or follow whatever that looks like on your favorite podcasting app. This is absolutely for free and listen to the next episode of Professor Game. See you there.

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