Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Management and Role-playing

How interchangeable management skills are with GMing surprises and doesn't surprise me. If you boil management and GMing down to its essential elements, they are both a methods of making a constructive and productive group effort.

Lessons that apply to GMs.
6. Reasoning by Analogy - RPGs are fast moving, you have a short amount of time and you need to communicate complex ideas as effectively and quickly as possible. Reasoning by Analogy has many flaws and many strengths. Understanding it better, helps the GM pose more interesting explanations and problems to the players regarding a situation. It also allows the GM to Frame challenges and situations effectively.
7. Making Sense of Ambiguous Situations - This is about Sense making or making sense to players. the skills presented are very useful in giving the players a puzzle or a challenge that is slowly and subtly introduced. Many game situations are best described in this way, Players are recieving information based on their senses and not just "meta-gaming" so it is important to be able to simulate the realistic and imperfect conditions that instigate their problem solving.
8. The Wisdom of Crowds? - This is particularly relevant since it actually points out that the Players and the Improvisation and their Ideas are much better than any one individual can possibly make up. The key lessons in this lecture is how to promote and maximize the process and how the GM should take advantage of this creativity to make it an enjoyable experience.
9. Groupthink—Thinking or Conforming? - This is highly relevant because, going against group think is what makes for an interesting adventure. When group think happens, possibilities are left unexplored.
10. Deciding How to Decide - This deals with the GM and his role as a facilitator. I really love this one because it re-emphasizes my intuition about GM and takes it further by giving examples and explaining the science.
11. Stimulating Conflict and Debate - Intra-party conflicts may be more real and more interesting than their cohesion. Cohesion, like that of a military unit, doesn't take advantage of other elements found in The wisdom of crowds. You can still have you well oiled team, AND have them bring their valuable differences to the table to make things interesting.
12. Keeping Conflict Constructive - Isn't this another job of the GM? It talks about Passions and how to channel and align the emotions that run high in the game. This is particularly useful because you want your games to be memorable yet sustainable. One of the interesting aspects of this lesson is how to be able to have all players contribute and have a substantial influence over the outcome of the party's action, beyond their combat role.
13. Creativity and Brainstorming - The example of Cid Ceasar is great when considering that a game session is pretty much the same. Maximizing the Creativity of players through frame problems and challenges is where the degree of skill of the GM shines by itself. When a situation is framed interestingly, the way a GM describes a situation the players react to, the players become engaged and surprise and continually improve on the ideas that came before.
14. The Curious Inability to Decide - Moving the Game forward is hard. Building consensus and momentum are always problems. They might appear time consuming but there are methods to push the game along quickly and effectively. it is the GM's job and he's got to invest in his craft to better steer players to consensus.
15. Procedural Justice - HA! Why railroading is UNIVERSALLY bad and why "fairness" matters in your games. Game systems and being fair goes a long way in enjoying the game. Don't go by just your experience, why not check out the science and how it applies to other things in life.
16. Achieving Closure through Small Wins. This is what a lot of GMing is about! In fact this is pretty much what I look forward to in my games.

Damn, I'm such a nerd. How nerdy is it to use science and methods used by the most respected and powerful Corporations and States to achieve fun, glory, and memories in a table surrounded by friends?

I'll tackle this next.
Lessons that apply to Players
1. Making High-Stakes Decisions
2. Cognitive Biases
3. Avoiding Decision-Making Traps
4. Framing—Risk or Opportunity?
5. Intuition—Recognizing Patterns
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