Ego Check with The Id DM is an interview podcast series hosted by a licensed psychologist, Michael Mallen, Ph.D. The podcast delves into a variety of game types (e.g., tabletop roleplaying games, boardgames, videogames) from a psychological perspective. Dr. Mallen has been interviewing members of the gaming community for articles on his blog, The Id DM, since 2011 and is now posting these interviews for others to enjoy.
Ronen Givony on Not For You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense
Ronen Givony joins me to talk about his latest book, Not For You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense, which attempts to chronicle and place into context Pearl Jam's career. Ronen talks about his work his relationship to the music industry and how he developed the concept for Not For You. We share origin stories of our Pearl Jam fandom and then enter into a discussion about the structure of Not For You - and the various forces that shaped the band and our experience of them. We close with a discussion on why the band always seems to have memorable shows in Philly. This was a fun episode. Enjoy!
Matt Forbeck on Shotguns & Sorcery
Matt Forbeck joins me to discuss his career as a an author and game designer. He discusses his world of Dragon City, which has spawned numerous books and the recent tabletop roleplaying game, Shotguns & Sorcery. He speaks to his inspirations for the game and how he wanted to create a new iconic hero in Max Gibson. He details some of his successes as a freelancer over the years and describes why returning to Dragon City was important. Matt explores why racism very much exists in Dragon City and how that is fused into the game system. Matt talks about the reckoning that roleplaying games are having at this time with race and other issues that affect player safety. He offers a glimpse at what is next for Shotguns & Sorcery including a new monster book, a Pathfinder conversion, and other projects.
Kelly Carlin on Legacy, Purpose & Resilience
Kelly Carlin joins me to talk about her life as the daughter of famed comedian, George Carlin. She previously wrote a memoir, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George, which was published in 2015. She has earned a bachelors degree from UCLA and a masters degree in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Weaving in her psychological training, Kelly talks about her journey toward finding her own meaning while also managing the weight of her father's legacy. She speaks to basking in his glow as a child and later feel trapped in his shadow as an adult. She explores how we all go through confusion about our self-identity and how she pursued graduate education in psychology to further understand herself and the world around her. She talks about the powerful forces of "shame and greed" that hold us back and how we can overcome that to led meaningful lives.
Tomo Moriwaki on Designing Epic Tavern
Tomo Moriwaki talks about his career in videogame design and how his experiences led him to the latest endeavor, Epic Tavern. In Epic Tavern, players are tasked with building up a tavern to cater to adventure needs AND with sending those adventurers on quests. Tomo talks about his goals to design an engaging gameplay loop that encourages players to spend more time with Epic Tavern; it was fascinating to learn about the decisions that are made to create a successful gameplay loop that cultivates that "one more turn" feeling for players! He discusses obstacles to creating a game "like fantasy football for fantasty fantasy" and how the small team has overcome those challenges. Tomo educates me about the logic behind Epic Tavern gameplay, including the encounter system involved in questing.
Stacy King & Andrew Wheeler on Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards & Spells
I'm joined by Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler, two of the minds responsible for the wonderful Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer's Guide series. They talk about the latest entry, Wizards & Spells, and detail how they took the vast magical information in D&D and organized that into a clean framework for young readers (and us creaky adults!) to absorb. They talk about the joys of creating new Legendary Characters for the D&D universe and how choices were made to highlight specific spells and magical items. Stacy and Andrew speak about their contributions to all books in the series and explain how the books fit together to form a coherent and warm invitation to all readers to play D&D. They respond to the glowing reception the books have received by an audience ranging in age, and briefly mention plans for the next two books in the series. These books are a treasure for any fan of D&D!
Keith Ammann on The Monsters Know What They're Doing
Keith Ammann joins me to discuss his book, The Monsters Know What They're Doing, which provides highly-detailed tactical guidance for monsters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. He speaks about his interest in strategy games and how that influenced his approach to running gaming sessions. He discusses how to run monsters realistically to further engage players and make their achievement at the table more meaningful. We explore multiple aspects of combats including complexity, difficulty, and morality.
Customer ReviewsSee All
These interviews are excellent
Lots of my favorite figures in the TTRPG are interviewed on this podcast, and the host’s perspective and style really leave me enjoying the shows. Thank you for your work!
Successful Insight Check!
Dr. Mallen is doing good work with the Ego Check podcast! Episodes have featured a really diverse set of guests and Dr. Mallen asks great questions to keep conversations flowing. I’ve appreciated listening to the discussions about gaming culture, mental health, and inclusivity at the table. Thanks for providing such an insightful perspective for the RPG community!
Having the audio split is really annoying, with the guy speaking in one ear and his guest talking into the other.
The content is good and interesting, but the audio makes it very difficult to listen to.