Convention managing, podcasting, editing, customer service — Jen Brinkman is busy with so much for Goodman Games that we had to sit her down for an interview just to keep track of it all! Read on to learn the many ways Jen looks after her extended gaming family.
Let’s get the basics out of the way: who are you and what is it you do for Goodman Games?
Hi! I’m Judge Jen, Chief Acolyte of DCC RPG … Oh. You probably mean that official stuff now. Right then: I’m the new Convention & Customer Service Manager for Goodman Games. This means I’m learning all of the people and processes involved behind our in-person and virtual presences (including the webstore’s nuts & bolts). There are so many aspects to all of it! Some days, it feels like all I’ve done is growl at the USPS or my inbox; other days, it feels like I’ve only scratched the surface and there are so many spells I have yet to learn. But I’m loving it all.
The one trade secret I can reveal is that all this glory boils down to a metric ton of emails and spreadsheets…and this is totally my calling.
How did you get introduced to gaming and Goodman Games in particular?
In 1995, I decided I didn’t want to be a gaming widow, so I told Bob to fix it. One Cthulhu session later, I was all in. Fast forward to Free RPG Day 2012: Troy Tucker said he was going to run something new. I protested at having to learn yet another system, but it took all of twenty minutes of playing DCC for me to declare, “This is it. This is the one I’m going to run.”
Most fans probably hear your name and immediately think of the Sanctum Secorum podcast. What’s the status with that show these days?
Really? That’s cool – I usually get asked about Spellburn. While DCC Dying Earth heavily affected the cast of both podcasts, both are pending their next episode drop. In the meantime, we at Sanctum have expanded the “Sanctum Secorum Reading Room” programming to include a monthly episode on Goodman Games’ Twitch channel. We’re not digging into DCC rules as in the original show, but we’re focusing on older fantasy and sci-fi from Appendix N authors and those who inspired them. The more obscure the piece, the better, in my opinion. I love encouraging the community to broaden their literary references because it almost always results in new creations!
As the head of Goodman Games Customer Service, what do you consider the most important thing when interacting with fans?
This department is front-of-house. We are the first point of contact for the company. We need to be personable and caring and responsive, and do our best to get each customer back to the gaming table. One of my first tasks was to implement cross-training so that everyone in the department can ensure the same smooth experience for customers in any given scenario.
It also helps to remember – we’re the NPCs! The fanbase may need to interact with us every now and then, but it shouldn’t interfere with the rest of their gameplay. Nobody wants to spend the whole session stuck in a shop or rehashing the rules. They just want to get back to the dice and the story, y’know? And maybe the snacks.
Ultimately, it’s all about the community: the games, the social media, the conventions…they all bring us closer together. It makes me want to solve any issue as if I’m helping a member of the family (because I am).
Without naming names, tell us about your favorite customer interaction.
My favorite interactions are almost always face-to-face, and are also cases of new recruits. Most recently (at Gary Con 2022), I’m torn between two. The first that sticks with me was when a couple returned to the booth after a couple of visits so that the wife could get her own copy of DCC RPG because she wants to run it now. Right on! The husband was so excited, it was like watching Bob’s reaction when I made that same decision nearly a decade ago. The other instance was a vendor who wanted to run a funnel after hours to try out the game, and I was able to pull some 0-level character sheets out of my backpack for him. (Always be prepared!) The next day, a slew of vendors bombarded us, all totally hooked after that one game. It was pretty fantastic.
You’ve also been a figure on the Goodman Games convention circuit for a while. And now you are in charge of our convention planning. I know for a fact that’s a lot of work. Do you enjoy the challenges that a convention brings?
The convention is the payoff. There’s that electric feeling the moment boots are on the ground. But planning for the unknown is nerve-wracking for everyone, right? By far, the most challenging part – especially at this early stage, both in terms of my position and the reopening of many events after the past 2-3 years – is not knowing what to expect from a venue or production. So many aspects for each convention are unique, like attendance numbers, on-site services offered, even the level of staff responsiveness. Once I know what’s expected or needed, I can run with it!
Any convention that you have always wanted to attend but haven’t made it to as of yet?
UK Games Expo! We actually had events, GM badges, and housing locked in for 2020. We had this extended two-week visit planned out and I was a minute away from committing to flights when the world ended. I’d like to try that again in a year or two, even if it’s not on official business.
You’re also married to one of our writers: Bob Brinkman. Knowing Bob, that sounds like quite an arduous task as well!
Hey, that guy’s one of my favorite authors! *laughs* Nah, pretty sure I made my Luck check there. (One might even say I’m the lucky one!) He’s the one who sat back and let me have DCC as my own thing. He’s been pretty awesome with my transition back into a full-time position since he knows how passionate I am about it. I can state, without exaggeration, that I would not be where I am without his steadfast support and enthusiasm over the past…nearly 27 years now.
Thanks for taking a bit out of your (I know) very busy day to talk to us!
Be sure to check out all of Jen’s work for Goodman Games by…well, by being a customer! Whether you purchase from your FLGS, a convention appearance, or through our online store, you are indirectly–or directly if you run into issues–stepping into Jen’s lair!