Detect Nerd officially began when Elizabeth Keach and Doug Miller decided to get serious about producing a live-streamed adventure campaign. Even before that, Elizabeth had wanted to share her love of tabletop gaming with others. She frequently encountered people who said "I really want to play Dungeons & Dragons, but I don't know how!" So education became part of our mission.
The live stage performances were an accident born out of the search for a broadcast venue. But we quickly saw that live shows could be a great opportunity to bring together like-minded people in real life, and to show everyone how much fun and fulfillment can be found when good friends collaboratively tell stories in a safe place. So live one-shots in front of an audience have also become a pillar of our operations.
As we posted flyers for our first live events we were approached by a surprising number of people who all said, "While I do know how to play, I can't figure out how to find other people like me to play with." So our mission grew once again to encompass providing the means for nerdy people like us to come together and get to know each other.
Taken all together, a common vision became clear: to encourage fun, togetherness, creativity, growth and collaboration among the nerds in our community, centered around tabletop roleplaying games.
I'm a grown adult that just wants to play games as a living for the rest of my life. Hailing from the state of Illinois after going to school for Theatre, I made my way to Columbia, Missouri in 2012. Not long after that, I fell into a group of friends that wanted to teach me how to play Dungeons & Dragons. The first character I ever created and played was a Dragonborn Sorceress named Hethress. It was during this campaign that I met Doug Miller. Our two characters hit it off within the campaign and we as players around a table found we were just as like-minded. Since then, D&D and other tabletop roleplaying games have become a staple in my life. It had always been a dream of mine to one day be able to share my passion and love for them within the community.
Dungeons & Dragons has given me the opportunity to write and be creative in a way that finally makes sense to me. I truly feel blessed when I’m around a table of pals and we’re able to be vulnerable with each other creating adventurous characters and stories that come to life fueled by our minds alone. It has also helped my struggle with anxiety and given me confidence in the “character” I am day to day in the real world.
Providing a safe, judgment-free space, with encouragement to grow your ideas, stories and characters is priceless in the world we live in today. I was given that when I first started playing tabletop roleplaying games. I’ve been eternally grateful to be able to be imaginatively open without the stigma of “getting the rules right” or “playing the game wrong”. It’s all about the story, the connection with the people you play and surround yourself with and, of course, having fun. After all, it is a game! And what a game it is!
I hated Dungeons & Dragons the first time I saw it. I thought it took too long to set up and was too complicated to play. Granted, I was a little kid and this was the cumbersome original version of D&D that we suffered through in the 1970s. But a few years ago I was invited to join a modern D&D campaign where I learned that the game had changed while I was away — and where I had the great fortune to meet a like-minded, determined, creative collaborator in Elizabeth Keach.
Growing up in Oregon I studied higher mathematics, but the classes were too early in the morning so I switched to music composition. That path led me to New Orleans where I became a professional musician in my fun, young adulthood. New Orleans is a national treasure in many ways, but as any musician will attest, few other American cities can rival its sense of community and camaraderie and creative collaboration.
The destruction of Hurricane Katrina brought me to Missouri in 2005. I set aside my performing interests for different kinds of creative work as a graphic designer and programmer. It wasn't until 2018 that I rediscovered Dungeons & Dragons, and learned that the rules had been streamlined to make it more accessible, and to encourage real storytelling and complex character development.
First as a player, and then as a game manager, I've been thrilled to once again enter the regular cycle of writing and performing that I missed from my days as a musician. I've been amazed to see how many different avenues of enjoyment TTRPGs offer: whether it's mastering the strategy of battles; writing original campaigns; learning how to create and portray a complex character; illustrating the people, monsters, and worlds of stories through visual artwork; creating music to enhance the stories as they're played; or just enjoying food and drink and the good company of your friends around a big table.
In narrative games like D&D, I have seen how players can grow as people while they improvise thinly-disguised stories of their true selves — or how attentive game managers receive players' stories and weave them into a deep, meaningful, shared world that brings everyone closer together. I don't see why this kind of collaborative storytelling can't be taken as seriously as any other art form like literature or theater. It's my hope that Detect Nerd can provide opportunities for nerdy people in Columbia to express themselves, experience personal growth through shared storytelling, discover a community of like-minded friends and just have fun!
For more information, feel free to e-mail us at .
Thank you to Matt Schacht and VidWest Studios for the use of their facilities and their enormous help teaching us how to use their resources. Thanks to the Arcade District and Cafe Berlin for giving us a venue to perform in front of live audiences. Thank you to Lars Van Zandt at Century Tattoo for the amazing Auroboros character art, and TabletopAudio.com for the invaluable public library of soundtrack music.
And biggest thanks to the past, present and future players sitting around our table!