RPGMatch’s Origin Story

My name is Joaquin, and I talk a lot to people about the RPGMatch app – a web app designed to allow tabletop role-players to connect with one another. Most of the time, if people have played tabletop games, they immediately grasp the value of the app, but they also want to know why I am building this application. Here’s why:

My love for tabletop roleplaying started back when I was just a preschooler, stumbling across a copy of the Monster Manual in the little preschool library. I couldn’t read much of what was in there, but I was immediately hooked by the illustrations of the monsters. I wouldn’t play my first game until I was in 3rd grade, but when I did, I didn’t want to do much else.

Little RPGmatch
Lil’ RPGMatch around the time he found his first D&D book (I’m the one in the tap shoes)

Like many tabletop enthusiasts, I started early and played through elementary school, high school, and then into college. I made almost all of my best friends through roleplaying: we had literally gone through dragon fire together – and we knew one another more deeply than anyone else. But that didn’t mean we always got along. Fights amongst gamers were not uncommon, and though we often reconciled, some friendships were stressed or even torn asunder by things that happened at the gaming table.

Over the years, I played a lot of games: Dungeons & Dragons (of various editions), Vampire, Mage, Werewolf, Paranoia, RIFTS, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu — and even a few games of my own invention.

It was in college, however, that I played my first “car crash” of a game. My friends and I wanted to expand our group, so we posted an ad at the friendly neighborhood gaming store on the corkboard in the back, and in less than a week, we had a new player at the table. All good, right?

Well, things were all good until a magic sword was discovered, and the new player laid claim to it since “he was the paladin”. Some friendly debate ensued, and before we knew it, the new addition to our group had lost his mind! He was on his feet screaming, “THE PALADIN GETS THE SWORD! THE PALADIN GETS THE SWORD!”

The afternoon ended with this stranger storming out of our ground-floor apartment in Los Angeles, and the rest of us looking at one another in disbelief. One of us remarked, “Are we going to have an active shooter situation here?” Needless to say, the weeks went on, and the darkest prediction did not come to fruition, but I never forgot: when you add a new player to the table, you are rolling the dice.

Fast forward to March 2020, and life found me happily married with two teenage kids — and having not played a roleplaying game for almost 15 years. Work and life had conspired to keep me away from the gaming table, and then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, I had some free time AND two teenage kids glued to their computer screens all day. D&D to the rescue!

After running a game for my son and daughter (Hoard of the Dragon Queen) and for my son and some of his 12-year-old friends (Rime of the Frostmaiden), I decided that I would love to do some grown-up gaming with people my own age. I was sure at the time that the internet would have almost certainly created some sort of online TTRPG matching service to help speed up the process and avoid “car crash” games.

What I found at the time was that the “state of the art” had progressed to a digital corkboard: Discord channels at friendly neighborhood gaming stores labeled “looking-for-group.” Worse, even the publishers were approaching it the same way. When I found an indie game I wanted to play, I reached out to see if they could get me connected with other players. Again, Discord.

The world moves fast today. Nobody has the time to sift through schedules, survey potential gamers on likes and dislikes, and NOBODY should have to experience a car crash at the gaming table (unless they are playing Car Wars).

Enter RPGMatch.org — a free service where you say what you like ONCE, and you can connect with other players based on common interests. This is a passion project, and the app I wished the internet had created before me. Fortunately, I had the technical background and financial wherewithal to make it happen. This is my love note to tabletop RPGs. This is my love note to the tabletop community that has given me such joy. I hope it helps you find your perfect match!

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