An Interview With Matthew Mercer Of Chief Creative Officer At Critical Role

At OutRight, we’re forever grateful to our community of supporters that time and time again go above and beyond by using their own unique talents to advocate and fundraise for us.

And though it’s not unusual for us to have an article thanking our latest crowdsourcer for their time and effort, what is unusual this time is who the individuals are – Critical Role.

Arguably the people that breathed new life into Dungeons and Dragons and turned it into a global cultural phenomenon. To be reached out directly from them was – in all honesty – a true fangirl moment.

We’re so grateful to them in many ways. Yes, they did raise money to support our work through a very cleverly designed and stylish shirt – which I’m wearing at the moment with no shame. But the people at Critical Role are all so easy, kind, and fun to work with. If I hadn’t already loved them so much, my love for them and what they do would have been all but assured.

Cäcille Ealy (CE): Tell us more about your “role” at Critical Role.

Matthew Mercer Chief Creative Officer At Critical Role

Matthew Mercer(MM): I am the Chief Creative Officer of this fun batch of knuckleheads, as well as the Dungeon Master and world builder for our flagship tabletop RPG series Critical Role.

CE: What’s your favorite thing about working for Critical Role?

MM: Oh man, there are many things I am thankful for. One of the big ones, though, is I get to work alongside my chosen family creating really wonderful experiences for both ourselves, and our community! For me, being able to own and be in control of our content, our stories, and path with this wild endeavor is an incredible experience that is equally as rare in successful media. Being able to do it together and knowing the core of it is based on us all having a good time doing it, is pretty wild.

CE: Why is the show called “Critical Role”? Was “Hit or Miss” taken?

MM: When we decided we’d be streaming our home game of D&D, we began to bat around various titles. Some were too “punny”, while others just didn’t have a grand ring to them. “Critical Role” came up in our conversation, and it just resonated with us. With “Critical Hits” being such a fun and dynamic part of the game, the game itself being a “Role”-playing experience, and the fact that we are all actors who play “Roles” in numerous projects... it just kinda all made sense!

CE: Critical Role is an inspiration for many – from the Skyrim bro to the avid “gaymer”. Did you ever think Critical Role would become this big?

MM: Not in the SLIGHTEST. We are still continuously blown away by the incredible size and global reach that our little D&D game has gained, and it is every bit as surreal as you could imagine. For so many years we believed the rhetoric that “long-form narrative media” wasn’t viable online, let alone 3+ hours of video content where friends just sat around a table, making up stories and rolling dice. To see it thrive and inspire so many others to tell their own stories with their friends is marvelous.

CE: In an age of mmorpg’s and virtual reality, what has made Critical Role – and roleplaying in general – stand out? With the exception of all the talented fun staff of course.

MM: I think a number of elements came together to create a perfect storm: A group of talented voice actors who are extremely comfortable slipping into character and living in an imaginary space, a genuine love for what we do, and an authentic love of each other as we play these games together. I believe so much media is designed, packaged, and presented as a product to be consumed, that when a group of friends just opened themselves up to the world and kept themselves honest in their joy, it really resonated with the online community. We don’t exclude or judge, and we play in this imaginary world we created together that reflects the part of our world that we love that champions inclusion, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

CE: Why did you choose us to partner with this past Pride Month, out of any other Queer organization?

MM: When seeking our charity partners, we do our research to find the right nonprofit organizations to work with to ensure they are legit and doing the actual work. In wanting our initiative to be global in its influence, we found OutRight not only helps beyond the bounds of the US (much like our community), but the ratings and reputation of OutRight was stellar. We were extremely excited to partner for this.

CE: Stay tuned for OutRight’s own D&D adventures! Recordings hopefully on their way soon.

MM: Awww, that’s wonderful!! I’m excited to check them out! Some fun tips as you begin: Remember to check in with one another about expectations around the game and its contents/themes to ensure universal comfort for the players. Making bold choices and leaning into the risky options as you play often lead to the most memorable and thrilling moments. Listen to each other and allow each player and the GM the chance to take to the spotlight… and most importantly of all, have fun! <3 Welcome to the wonderful world of TTRPGs and the incredible community that surrounds them.

Thank you for your continued support for OutRight!