Many of these questions are based directly on questions from the #RPGNET Q&A session, and follow up conversations with others. Additional questions are welcomed, please feel free to comment at the bottom of this page or email rpgresearcher at gmail dot com.
Do you have a short list of what the RPG Trailer's benefits would be?
The RPG Trailer makes it possible to meet the needs of many populations (Autism spectrum ASD / PDD / ADHD, at-risk & troubled youth, the Deaf, brain injury (stroke, TBI, etc.), Cerebral Palsy, and many other individuals, groups, and facilities throughout North America, by addressing all these issues:
1. Optimal Gaming Environment
A comfortable, quiet, wheelchair friendly, gaming-focused environment free of distractions and competing demands, that includes air conditioning, self-contained generator, kitchenette, refrigerator, stove/oven (gamers and munchies of course), and a fully ADA/wheelchair friendly bathroom. This trailer can be easily transported and setup at locations convenient for the participants, such as a parking lot, as needed. The trailer will comfortably seat 8-10 participants, or about 5 wheelchair-bound participants for tabletop and computer-based RPG, and provide other benefits for many more during Live-Action Role-Playing events. All of my gaming materials would be readily accessible, requiring very little setup and tear-down time, and no risk of “oh I forgot that book/resource back at the other office/facility/home” (which could be in another state/country)
2. Efficiency, Wear & Tear
A fully stocked mobile gaming office that addresses wear-and-tear and organizational issues. Currently I have several smaller dedicated gaming rooms at my house. Each seats between 5 to 8 players per game room. I also have an office in the downtown Spokane area with 3 different gaming rooms that can seat between 6 to 14 players. You can see photos and video of some of the game rooms and materials here.
To run my sessions, I have to pack up the gaming materials necessary for the groups scheduled, take them to the location (my office, community setting, rehabilitation facility, etc.), set everything up, etc. For example using a typical tabletop RPG session this would include:
Multiple copies of game system books, character sheets, client assessment forms, client/participant case files, writing utensils, dice or other randomization tools, various tokens, battle mats, miniatures, egg timers, cards, tape, glue, and other accessories.
Load all the materials into my vehicle.
Arrive at the location (my home or office, Saint Luke's Rehabilitation TBI department in Spokane, Nagios rehab in Seattle, PAVE group in Tacoma, etc.).
Unload the boxes of materials from the vehicle.
Set everything up in the room/facility.
Run the game.
Pack everything back up.
Load the vehicle.
Unload the vehicle.
Put everything back on the shelves.
- At one point I was doing this for 12 different groups (about 30 sessions per month).
This becomes even more involved when setting up computer-based gaming sessions, especially those with bio and/or neuro monitoring and/or feedback equipment. The trailer also helps increase the carrying capacity of a lot of LARP gear which can takes up considerable of space.
The trailer will allow everything to be located in the trailer, ready-to-go. This will reduce general wear-and-tear on the supplies (books, miniatures, etc.), as well as my own back and knees, and greatly increase the number of actual “gaming hours” I can provide to participants, rather than hours of pre-and-post gaming setup and tear-down requirements.
A number of Recreation Therapy organizations have trailers for hauling their many paraphernalia for their programs. For example the adaptive bicycle, kayaking, skiing, and rock climbing programs I participated in last year regularly makes use of trailers.
The RPG Trailer is a logical solution in this profession to provide recreation services to a broad range of people.
3. Fully Wheelchair-friendly ADA Facility.
My downtown Spokane office is a shared law-firm building built long ago that is, while affordable, unfortunately not at all wheelchair friendly, neither is my 1964-built home in a semi-rural location. Saint Luke's and other facilities often have trouble booking a room for a group any longer than 1 hour due to competing scheduling from other recreation therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, music therapists, and general “diversionary” recreation activities. Most of the facility does not allow participants to be “noisy”. Many of these facilities do however often have plenty of spare parking lot space, and regularly take clients outside in wheelchairs. It was while I was volunteering at Saint Luke's that I came up with the idea of the trailer, and discussed the possibility of it with the lead Recreation Therapist at Saint Luke's. She agreed the RPG Trailer would be the ideal solution for their clients.
4. Portability, Expanded Coverage, & Affordability.
The RPG trailer will make it easier and more affordable to provide RPG services to rural locations that do not have facilities for gaming, as well as metropolitan areas requesting my specific services. Many small towns and rural locations do not have any kind of “Friendly Neighborhood Gaming Stores”. The trailer is not only a complete office and gaming facility, it also greatly reduces my costs for hotel and food expenses when travelling to provide RPG services, further the RPG Research Project, and attend conferences/conventions when on panels and providing presentations.
Currently, I not only have the gasoline expenses to drive to a location, but additionally the costs of a facility (for example an office) can add up quickly. Flying is not feasible with all of the equipment.
Additionally, if the location is more than a few hours from my home, there are often food and hotel costs that can range from $50 to $200+ per night/day. The trailer has a large bed in the ceiling that can be pulled down for use, a full kitchenette (water, sink, stove, oven, refrigerator, cabinets), bathroom sink, toilet, and shower, and both game table couches can flip over to become additional single beds for any assistants (especially when running LARPs).
This means I can continue to provide free services to far more people over the next several years, and when I do begin to transition to a billable service, will be able to keep the costs, and thus the rates charged to participants/insurance, at a much lower price point.
This will also make it more affordable to attend conventions/conferences throughout North America, since it will greatly save on my hotel/motel costs during 3 to 5+ day events. The goal is to attend up to 4 events per year. I have spoken at 3 conventions/conferences in the past 9 months. I am slated to attend the Living Games Conference in Austin, Texas in May 2016, and the HBO Documentary group “VICE” indicated a desire that I come to New York and New Jersey to see the LARP groups that have Autism spectrum participants if possible.
5. Planning for the Future.
Though I am a Washington state registered Recreation Therapist (though not yet CTRS), I currently provide all sessions without charge, and will continue to do so until I complete my degrees, internships, and additional certifications. I am currently an undergraduate student working on interdisciplinary degrees in recreation therapy, music therapy, neuroscience, and research psychology. After my internships in recreation therapy and psychology, I plan to sit for the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification () Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification tests, and hope to continue toward at least a masters degree in related disciplines.
The trailer initially will help me be able to afford expanding my provision of free gaming sessions to more individuals and groups across a broader geography. It will also help me to keep expanding the scope of my research on the effects of role-playing games.
The current RPG Trailer, the Prototype Mark I, doesn't seem to be quite ideal based on the checklist of desired features. Why?
The trailer purchased in October 2016 is a prototype. It is a long story, but basically, Washington state Labor & Industries regulations regarding RVs and trailers are prohibitive to smaller RV/Trailer manufacturers. The state has agreements with the larger manufacturers, but smaller ones must go through a lengthy and expensive approval process. So we bit the bullet and bought something "in the ballpark" of what we want, as a prototype.
The prototype will handle around 3 people in wheelchairs, and allows us to refine a lot of our concepts, so that when we have the funds for the custom built trailer, it will have more of the possibly unforeseen issues worked out in advance.
Ordering the custom built trailer has multiple stages.
Remember, all these projects have been self-funded.
First we must provide 10% up front payment.
Once the manufacturer receives the down payment, it will take approximately 4 to 9 months for the trailer to be completed. Then the remaining balance of the trailer must be paid in full to receive delivery.
But a further complication is that Washington State's L&I must visually inspect and approve all aspects of the custom built trailer before it is allowed within the state.
This process can costs thousands of dollars, and take anywhere from 6-18+ months!
So, we are making do with the RPG Trailer Mark I for now, and working on creating the inexpensive RPG Bus Mark 1 later this year, while we save up for the more expensive, but more ideal, Mark II.
Is this a one person operation? Or do you have a team who may be using the trailer both locally and regionally?
While I (Hawke Robinson) am the only person behind starting the idea of the RPG Trailer to become a reality, and the ownership of the trailer will is currently in my name, we now have a staff of 5 volunteers training and helping to develop and provide services.
We usually work with teams of health care professionals and educators from many disciplines. They are often involved in the research, session delivery, observation, referrals, etc.
Here are some specific examples:
- The team of Recreation Therapists at Saint Luke's Rehabilitation.
- Recreation therapists at Seattle's Navos facility.
- Professors in the Recreation Therapy, Psychology, and other departments at Eastern Washington University.
- The parents of the ASD participants in the Tacoma PAVE Group.
- Licensed mental health workers in private practice with client referrals and oversight/observation.
- Instructors of various elementary, middle, and high schools.
- Physical, Occupational, Speech, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, and other specialists at various facilities.
- Other professionals wishing to become "Game Master Therapists".
The professionals are scattered across North America. I have been having conversations with a number of people that would love to be trained and participating as "game master therapists" when the trailer becomes available. I answer in even more detail about this question in the #RPGNET Q&A, and in Michael Tresca's 3 part interview.
Who is Hawke Robinson, and what are your qualifications?
I am registered with the Washington State Department of Health as a Recreation Therapist, which provides oversight and disciplinary measures for health professionals. My legal name is William Hawkes-Robinson. My registration number is RE# 60526204): https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/providercredentialsearch/SearchCriteria.aspx
I am a member in good standard with the Washington State Therapeutic Recreation Association (WSTRA), and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).
I am an undergraduate student at Eastern Washington University (EWU), working on an interdisciplinary degree in Recreation Therapy, Music, Neuroscience, & Research Psychology. I plan to sit for the NCTRC CTRS, and hope to go on toward a related graduate degree.
I have been participating in role-playing games since 1979. I am founder of The RPG Research Project, and many other RPG related endeavors.
What experiences led you to decide that this trailer is the best option to bring RPGing to the populations with special needs? In rural areas? Why is this trailer the best option and not other options?
I answer this question at length in the LIVE Q&A SESSION on #RPGNET, Michael Tresca's interview of Hawke Robinson (me), and on several websites. The short version is that most facilities detract from an ideal RPG experience for many populations. After many years of volunteering at many locations in multiple states, it has become abundantly clear that the RPG Trailer would be, by far, the best means of providing a safe, quiet, comfortable, nurturing, ideal RPG experience. This trailer is built, from the ground up, specifically to address creating an ideal environment for engaging in RPG for regular and special needs participants.
I have blogged about, and discussed in various presentations and videos, the many challenges that the trailer will resolve. I have personally had to address every single issue listed below, in one form or another, a multitude of times.
The original kernels of the ideas began around 1984-1986 at Realms of Inquiry a School for Gifted & Talented Children, and then began to coalesce from 2004 to 2015 when volunteering at many locations for many different populations, finally becoming becoming clearest in 2014-2015 when volunteering at Saint Luke's Rehabilitation, Spokane, Washington, USA, while helping in the Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury departments, and while working with several Autism spectrum groups on the other end of Washington state and throughout the North American continent.
A very brief summary of some of the key issues the trailer addresses:
- Most public gaming facilities are sub-par environments (dirty, noisy, too hot/cold, uncomfortable seating, threatening to some populations, etc.).
- Many locations are either outright inaccessible for wheelchairs, or minimally accessible despite the various laws for accessibility, such as the ADA in the United States.
- While many gamers live in urban areas and may have access, there are also many populations that would benefit from participation in RPG but have significant transportation issues in getting to urban areas for participation.
- While there are many in urban areas, there are also many of those that would benefit from RPGs that live in rural and/or un-served or under-served areas.
- Some public environments are not very friendly or supportive toward people with disabilities and can feel like an unsafe environment to some. The trailer provides a safe, supportive environment.
- Many individuals, especially those with special needs, have financial issues that limit their ability to join/participate in RPGs (expense of books, miniatures, computers, consoles, subscriptions, LARP equipment, etc.).
- Most facilities do not have the equipment I do for providing the various forms of RPG (tabletop, live-action, and computer-based).
- Most facilities lack the training for effective delivery of RPG sessions.
- Many facilities have noise restrictions in their rooms that limit the RPG experience.
- Many facilities lack the space for tabletop or LARP sessions, and/or do not have any of the equipment for tabletop, live-action, or computer-based RPGs.
- Hotel costs and other costs are also addressed with this trailer so that it remains affordable to deliver the services much more broadly than without the trailer.
- Most paratrainsit resources are overstretched, and availability is very problematic as it is in urban areas, while in rural areas it is often non-existent.
- The process of moving gaming supplies to each location is quite burdensome when running many groups. My gaming materials are either at my house or office. I then load multiple boxes with the necessary gaming supplies (tabletop rule books, battle mats, miniatures, character sheets, GM screen, notebooks, pencils, post its, dice, markers, etc.) (video games: computers or consoles, video screens, controllers, speakers, cables, etc.) (live-action (LARP), props, armor, shields, garb, hats, weapons, etc.), load the boxes into my SUV, drive to the location, unload the SUV, unpack the equipment and set it up for the session, run the session, then pack back into the boxes, load back into the SUV, return home (or office), unload the SUV, unpack the boxes and put all the equipment back on the shelves. The trailer would have all the equipment right there. I would only need to drive to the location, setup, and away we go. I would save many hours per day, and be able to provide even more sessions per week.
- Health. The efforts to keep providing these free services to as many people as possible, hauling all of the boxes in and out, etc. keep re-injuring and exacerbating health & injury issues. The trailer will solve these issues, and make it possible to provide far more sessions to far more people over much more of the continent than I could ever do in a healthy way without the trailer.
- Geographic bottleneck. Currently I am mostly only able to provide regular services in the greater Spokane area, though I have done some work in the Seattle & Tacoma areas. Also there has been repeated demand for my services on the East coast, mid-west, Texas, and Canada.The trailer would make it possible for me to regularly provide services across the whole state easily, and after clearing some regulation issues, expand to providing services throughout North America. This just isn't economically viable, or logistically reasonable, without the trailer, but with the trailer becomes very do-able.
While the modality of using role-playing gaming is new to the Therapeutic Recreation (TR) / Recreation Therapy (RT) profession, the approach of a mobile service with a trailer is well established in this and other health care professions.
Here is an example of some Physical Therapists, called Kid-Ability in Arizona delivering PT services with a trailer of similar design, to special needs youth:
And what "special equipment" is needed to make environment "safe" for folks with disabilities? While roleplaying???
Remember that the activities range from tabletop RPG, to computer-based RPG, to live-action RPG (LARP). With that in mind:
- First, a not only wheelchair accessible but wheelchair friendly facility.
- Second, an overall safe & nurturing, supportive environment. Many RPGers with disabilities have reported that though they love gaming, they do not participate because gaming in public locations like game stores, schools, etc. can often be met with harassment and other experiences that dissuade them from continue in a favoured past time.
- Third, the standard on site safety equipment for any recreation therapist, first aid being the most common.
- Fourth, as a recreation therapist, it is typical to have to keep a stock of various adaptive equipment that is not typical for others. For example various adaptive gripping devices, such as Palmer grips, or various braces, and other supports that allow participants with various disabilities to engage in activities they otherwise normally would be unable to do so. This also includes special controllers for computer interfaces for example.
Here is a group of recreation therapists in the Seattle area that provide adaptive bicycles to special needs populations, using a trailer to deliver services:
Those are just a couple of many in the health services professions that have found using trailers, of the design similar to the RPG trailer, is the most efficient means of delivering services to the broadest population possible.
Furthermore with such a range of disabilities you people listed, how can you hope to obtain assistive equipment for all of them?
That is a challenge for many/most Recreation Therapists. This is addressed over time. Over the years RTs steadily accumulate such adaptive equipment as part of the profession. This allows to steadily expand the range of populations that can participate in the program plans.
Wouldn't you be better off relying or should I say trusting folks with disabilities to have appropriate equipment for their own disability?
It is always great if participants have their own adaptive equipment appropriate for the activities of course! Unfortunately, few, if any, would typically have the adaptive equipment for the specific activities, at least initially. Some do invest in such equipment after they have the enjoyable experience. Typically, most just didn't even know about either the activity and/or such equipment available to make engaging in the activity more accessible.
If a person cannot make "20 feet beyond their house" shouldn't you folks be raising funds to get these folks to some place like school or job (vocational training, rehab center, whatever) and if they can go there, why is it a problem to find a space for roleplaying?
Regarding the concerns about vocational training, rehab, etc. many of the programs I have been designing and implementing are designed exactly to develop those skills, so that in the future they can develop improving levels of independence. For example, the ASD/PDD population I have been working with in the Tacoma area, one group has 31 individuals (ages 12 to 30), only 1 can use public transit, the rest are 100% dependent on their guardians or others for transportation. A program is in the works using RPG to help them build confidence and competence toward using public transit, but during the interim, those families struggle with finding facilities to meet for activities regularly (typically around 6-10 attend each event), the trailer can provide such a location more conveniently located, while they work on those skills.
Another group, at Saint Luke's rehabilitation, where I have volunteered in the brain injury and spinal cord injury departments, wish to engage in both music therapy and RPG therapy, but due to problems with noise, limited space, and restrictions of time for possible rooms, the parking lot is the best location to provide both. Most of the patients are in wheelchairs, they agreed that the trailer would be an excellent solution to these issues.
Those are just a couple of many examples. I hope that helps clarify, and assuages your concerns.
Do you already have a vehicle capable of hauling the trailer?
Yes, I own an Infinity QX56 with heavy duty towing package, that exceeds the towing requirements for the trailer when fully loaded. I also have a 1986 Bronco HO that meets the requirements as well.
How many days/weeks per year will the be trailer be used?
The long-term goal is 5+ days a week. The current schedule is already typically 2 to 3 days per week without the trailer. The trailer would make it much easier to provide far more sessions to far more people. I have often been running 12+ groups simultaneously at my office and other locations/facilities. I loose a lot of time that could be used for sessions due to frequent packing up, transporting, unpacking, using, re-packing, transporting back, and placing back on shelves, all of my RPG-related materials. Having everything right there in the trailer will free up around 1-2 additional hours of actual "game time" PER session, making it possible to fit more sessions in per week. Also the trailer coming to the clients' areas, makes it much easier for many to attend regular sessions as well.
What is the plan for the trailer when not in use?
Generally used in some way related to RPGs. In addition to The RPG Research Project and providing RPG sessions, would also be used instead of hotels/motels during transit between locations across the country when delivering sessions, speaking at conventions/conferences, etc. The trailer may also be used for other recreation therapy & music therapy related services, but the primary purpose is for RPGs in tabletop, computer, and live-action formats.
When not in use, it will be in storage, though with the current demand already wait-listed, the trailer is expected to be in constant use. The trailer would also be used for ancillary business purposes such as meeting with prospective clients, facilities administrators, etc.
What is the plan to deal with gas costs, car repairs, insurance costs, travel expenses, etc. for using the trailer to do this charity work?
Currently all my projects are self-funded. Due to a combination of circumstances, I was fortunate enough to be able to retire from a reasonably successful career in the computer science / information technology / information security industries, in 2003. Most of the costs listed are already accounted for without the trailer. Between my paying for multiple non-mobile locations (offices and such), using the current vehicles for transportation of equipment, participants, etc. Though adding the trailer will reduce the MPG of the vehicle, overall the trailer will actually lower the operational costs of providing services. I intend to continue self-funding for some time. Down the road, when viable to take this program to the next level, then other approaches will be taken to increase the scope of the program (grant funding, foundation, insurance-billable options, etc.).
What governmental approvals will you need before being able to use this trailer? Or will all participants be signing releases for any liability?
The Recreation Therapy / Therapeutic Recreation profession has standards that address these issues. That is one of the many reasons why I am using RT/TR methodologies to deliver these services, it maps very well to this model. This includes insurance, government compliance, appropriate waiver forms for participation in TR activities. Many recreation therapists, and other professions, use trailers to deliver other TR-based modalities to similar populations.
I hope these responses are helpful to assuaging your concerns and grow your support for this effort.
Please post comments on this page if you have any other questions you would like answered, or feel free to email me: rpgresearcher at gmail dot com.
- RPG Trailer Donation Page: http://www.gofundme.com/rpgtrailer
- RPG Trailer details on website: http://www.rpgtrailer.com
- The RPG Research Project website: http://www.rpgresearch.com
- #RPGNET Q&A Log: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/qa-hawke-robinson-the-rpg-research-project
- Michael Tresca 3 part interview of Hawke Robinson: http://rpgr.org/documents/rpg-research-project/interviews/michael-tresca-interview-of-hawke-robinson-part-1-of-3
- Summary page of presentations by Hawke Robinson on The RPG Research Project, including WorldCon 73 / Sasquan, Seattle Children's Hospital, ZoeCon, & Eastern Washington University: http://rpgr.org/blog/almagamation-of-panels-q-a-interviews-presentations-on-rpg-for-therapy-education
- Washington State Department of Health Credentials Search, my registration number is RE# 60526204 Hawkes-Robinson): https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/providercredentialsearch/SearchCriteria.aspx
While I am attempting to self-fund this endeavor as much as possible, and though I am not a 501(c)(3), donations are accepted to help speed up the process, through http://www.gofundme.com/rpgtrailer
Further details, photos and videos of the current prototype trailer (The RPG Trailer Mark I), and mock-ups of the future RPG Trailer Mark II can be found here:
Many thanks to the community for your support, kind words, understanding, and enthusiastic support!
President, RPG Therapeutics LLC
Founder & Primary Investigator, The RPG Research Project
Washington State Department of Health Registered Recreational Therapist