O[/edgtf_dropcaps]e have all heard the phrase “Behold dragons,” and let me tell you: it doesn’t come from a book by George RR Martin. Until recently, the Latin translation, “Hic sunt dracones”, was said to have been inscribed on medieval maps, which is now completely debunked (the only historical inscription of the term was found on a solitary globe from 1510).
If that were true, or if a new map was drawn, it’s fair to say that the landlocked state of Beehive would deserve a footnote thanks to its strong propensity for dragons, i.e. Dungeons & Dragoons. Google search results indicate that Utahans play more Dungeons & Dragons per capita than any other state (runners-up are Idaho and Oregon). There are echoes of that everywhere you look, from the ghost town of Dragon in eastern Utah to Pleasant Grove’s Evermore, a fantastical amusement park that hosts an annual Dragon Lantern Festival.
Dragon-bound upstate residents include Tracy Hickman, best-selling author and co-creator of the Dragonlance series (which is referenced in several official Dungeons & Dragons campaigns), and American Fork-based sci-fi supremo Brandon Sanderson of Dragonsteel Books and Dragonsteel Entertainment.
Utah’s dense dragon landscape has spawned many spin-offs. Provo-based game developer Latitude launched its AI Dungeon scroller in 2019. The Void, a now-shuttered VR space in Pleasant Grove, featured immersive VR dungeon crawls co-designed by the aforementioned Tracy Hickman.
Feeling of a theme? Before we get to the latest weird tech in Utah, it’s time for this month Two Truths and a Lie, Utah Tech Edition– On the Dungeons & Dragons theme, of course. Of the following three D&D startups (shrinking it was a difficult task, believe me), which one is the fake one? (Scroll down for answers.)
- A startup that designs and sells reusable D&D dungeon scrolls with unlimited land
- A startup that designs and sells playable D&D-themed tabletop NFTs
- A startup that designs and sells scented D&D peripherals to set the scene
Dungeon Master University: where DMs up their game
As D&D’s viewership grows – an estimated 50 million people participated in 2021 – the demand for a dungeon master who knows his ogres from his orcs (and has narrative flair) has grown exponentially. . Enter Dungeon Master University (DMU), launched in March 2021 by Orem-based Dax Levine. Levine had been offering his Virtual Dungeon Master (DM) services for a few years, charging up to $500 for corporate clients. As interest skyrocketed, he realized there was a gap in the market, and his background in education placed him particularly well to move forward.
DMU’s three-hour courses cover the wide range of skills needed to be a top-level DM, with titles such as “Conflict-Driven Characters”, “Voicing Legendary Saga”, and “Motivational Game Psychology”.
“People pay me to come up with creative ways to murder them,” Levine told his students on Zoom. Levine now employs a team of six people. A summer school program for children is in preparation, as well as individual coaching. It’s time for D&D gamers to get the respect they deserve – if people can make a million dollars playing Defense of the Ancients, why not D&D?
Crypto, Metaverse, and Artificial Intelligence Summer Camps for Kids
It’s summer camp season, which means parents everywhere can get some respite from their beloved offspring. It takes about five days for your neatly tidied home to sink into tacky chaos, with everything in place. exactly the wrong place. Do you feel me? Summer camps are a solution to this, not to mention a chance for your loved ones to quickly surpass you in terms of technological know-how. Forget drone camps and Roblox camps (which still exist); the new batch of summer camps tapped into today’s tech zeitgeist. Seriously, mud is like, then 2021.
Salt Lake City-based Higher Ground offers a cryptocurrency-focused summer camp that trains money-conscious teens and tweens in penny stocks, portfolio management, and the broader world of crypto . They say the students will participate in “mock business competitions”.
Artificial intelligence is another summer camp trend, offered by Lehi-based Code Adventure and eleven other summer camps profiled in a 2021 analysis by the Center for Security and Emerging Technology. And with a nod to this month’s theme, the University of Utah is offering various in-person D&D bootcamps for ages 9-14 (course fee covers dice, player’s handbook, and a minifigure ).
Distance learning students also have options, such as Outschool’s Nifty NFTs: Non Fungible Tokens for Beginners course for kids ages 12-17, courtesy of Salt Lake City educator Brooke Martinez . Metaverse masterclasses are also offered courtesy of CAMPK12, an online program that teaches VR and AR game development. “Your child could become the world’s youngest metaverse creator,” reads a poster for the program. Ah, they grow up so fast.
Smack’d Adult Chocolate Milk(clean)
It is well known that milk and Mormons go well together. In 2016, Milktoberfest became an annual replacement for Oktoberfest, and many Utah milk connoisseurs believe chocolate milk reigns supreme. Whether the gold medal goes to BYU Creamery, Gossner Foods or Rosehill Dairy is up for (heated) debate, but a new contender lurks behind the scenes.
Enter Smack’d (yes, that’s how they spell it), a Lehi-based canned and caffeinated chocolate milk startup. “We’re obsessed with chocolate milk, but we’re not 12 either! is their slogan, hence the 60mg of caffeine and 30g of protein per can.
Founded by “lifetime chocolate milk drinker” Josh Mendenhall, who also works as Pattern’s creative director, this canned milk is aimed at adults. “I want to market 25-40 year olds,” he told the Tell me about dairy podcast. “It contains enough caffeine to get you through the day. It is geared towards a post-workout pick-me-up.
Mendenhall is part of the 2022 cohort of the Dairy Farmers of America CoLAB Accelerator, embracing new ideas in the dairy space. He explains that the packaging is key – an aluminum can is more “adult” than a juice box. “I drink it every day,” he says. I bet everything! Who said being an adult means not enjoying chocolate milk anymore? Not me.
Replies to Two Truths and a Lie, Utah Tech Edition:
The scented startup is the fake one. Orem-based Yarro Studios makes the Infinidungeon, priced at $30-$100. Scoundrels.io sells D&D NFTs.