The Man Behind the Website: An Interview With Brett Brooks

Brett Brooks—aka, Pandabrett—is the person who you don’t see most often with Goodman Games. While he’s not out front for us, he is always working behind the scenes to keep the company’s presence going to the online world.

We asked him to answer a few questions about himself and what he does for Goodman Games. And he was as verbose as always…

Let’s take a moment to meet Brett Brooks!

Tell us what you do for Goodman Games.

I am the thing lurking in the shadows. He who walks behind the code. The one who knows. And I believe my official title is Manager of Online Content.

Basically, I’m the guy who runs the website, manages the social media, takes care of YouTube and DriveThruRPG, and a bunch of stuff like that. 

And I don’t do this alone. I have a great team of folks who work with me on the site and the rest, including—but not limited to—Jess McDevitt, Bill Ward, and Jon Wilson. They’re an amazing team, and I’m proud that they have my back.

Command Central

Thousands of fans visit the Goodman Games website every day. How do you keep it fun and interesting for them? 

Mostly clowns. Lots of clowns. Though you probably never notice them because I keep them hidden…you know, clowns are scary. 

I also try to make sure that the tone of the site is uplifting and fun. This is the games industry. It’s our job to make sure that people are having fun. And while I can’t do that all of the time, everything we put out there is done with the purpose of informing and entertaining. I want people to want to read the articles. And I love creating the graphics that go into each post, banner, and elsewhere. It gives me a chance to create a mood before anyone even has a chance to read what has been written.

In prior years, your role involved a lot of travel and cons. How has Covid changed day-to-day life and the way you work? 

Like with most people, it’s had a huge impact. Prior to Covid I did spend a good 10-20% of my time at conventions for Goodman Games—and then another 10-20% planning for those shows. 

Now I spend all of my time working behind the scenes, helping to build up the infrastructure of the website and create the most user-friendly version of things that I can. There’s still a lot that I want to do with the site, but time is the enemy of us all. We’ve done what we can to build up the site to help fill in the gaps. 

The thing I miss the most is the direct interaction with the fans. Getting to see old friends and meet new people at shows around the country. In a way, though, I’m still doing it, as I see many of them on social media, and I get to welcome the new fans by helping to build the website. 

Before Goodman Games, you worked as a game designer, game publisher, and comics/games retailer. Tell us about your long career in gaming and comics! 

You forgot writer. I also wrote a handful of novels, some comics, and was a staff writer for Comic Shop News for 20 years.

But yeah, I’ve worn a lot of hats. My wife, Allyson, and I founded Pandahead Productions about the same time that Goodman Games was coming into being. We were the original publishers of Xcrawl back in the day, and also put out a game called Meddling Kids—which is still available on DriveThruRPG and elsewhere. 

I also wrote comics for Dark Horse and Tekno Comics, did some work for White Wolf, put out the aforementioned novels on Amazon, and yes, had a comics and games shop for a couple of decades. (Which is still going strong, I’m just no longer a part of it.) I adore the comics and games industry and am proud to have been a member of it for the majority of my life. 

What’s your favorite thing about working in this fun industry? 

The people. Not even close. This industry is full of folks who are amazing, intelligent, and supportive. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many people that I am proud to call friends. 

I mean, it’s the games industry! Our job is literally to make things that are designed to be fun. Something that activates your creativity and challenges your mind. But its very nature it’s going to appeal to individuals with a strong creative side, and getting to work with them is such an honor.

What do you do on the weekends for fun?

This is going to sound cliche, but…I like to play RPGs. It’s still my favorite hobby, even if it is my daily job in a sense. So, yeah, if I’m not actually playing a game, I tend to be reading a new supplement or adventure, or talking with friends about gaming. It’s really my lifestyle.

Though I suppose I also spend a lot of time watching movies. Mostly “bad” sci-fi and horror moves of yesteryear. There’s something appealing about the schlock b-movies of the ’30s-’70s that appeals to me. I think it drives some people nuts when they are around me, but thankfully my wife loves it, too.

Oh, and during the Fall I watch a lot of football. And I live in metro Atlanta, so I’m a Falcons fan. Which means I’m unhappy many…many…Sundays. 

Cover art for Primal Tales 2

Tell us about your current RPG campaign.

At the moment, we’re mostly playing through a 5E version of Against the Giants. We’re still in the hill giant section, and mostly getting our backsides handed to us, but we’ve managed to stay alive through some strategy and luck. I’ve got a half-orc cleric of Tempus that has kept the party alive—and has also been the one that has come closest to death the most often. Yay?

We’ve also been playing a Cortex version of the White Wolf Exalted setting that we’ve cobbled together. I’ve always loved that setting, though the rules for it have always been a little ponderous. So we’re taking things in our own direction while trying to stay true to the flavor of the original.

And I’ve also been reworking the adventure for the next Primal Tales—yes, I’m still planning on releasing the second volume—and trying to get it right. I may be too much of a perfectionist about this, but I don’t like to put out anything that I’m not proud to have my name on.

Any last words?

Zydeco. That’s about the last-est word I can think of. 

Though I’d also like to thank folks like Brendan LaSalle, Jen Brinkman, and, of course, Joseph Goodman, who’ve been great to work with over the years, and that help to make my daily routine not so much a job as it is just a part of my life. As they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day.

Author: pandabrett

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