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Become a Better Facilitator Using TableTop RPGs

July 18, 2017

Can playing with dice make you a better facilitator?


You've probably seen Netflix's Stranger Things (if you haven't, I recommend it). In the first episode, the boys are playing a tabletop role playing game (TTRPG), and Mike is acting as the Game Master (GM). A GM narrates the story of the adventure, oversees the action, enforces the rules, keeps time, acts as all the non player characters, keeps the group focused on the task at hand etc.

Maybe Stranger Things had you reminiscing of a time when you played Dungeons and Dragons with your friends? I recall role playing as a reckless character, smashing through doors without bothering to check for traps. This was obviously nothing like me in real life, and caused the other members of my party to try to ditch me in dungeons, but was above all a lot of fun. Many ages passed, as I hung up my adventuring boots until a few years ago when I started getting back into games again. 

Learn by playing games


I live illustrated Kevin Carroll's talk "Play at Work: Unleashing Growth Through Creativity and Innovation" at an education conference in Dallas, and he said, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." That stuck with me, and had a big impact on the hundreds of educators in the audience as I was drawing. Games can help us understand and see each other in more positive ways. They make friends of enemies.


I thought about what Mr. Carroll said and wondered, "Could this also be said about oneself?" You don't know how you will act in certain situations, we're all pretty unprepared. TTRPGs are a way to know yourself (and your friends) better. They are a fun way to tell stories while utilizing your brain for math, navigation, problem solving, drawing, and most importantly: imagining. Your imagination is fuel for achieving great things. Our day to days (especially as adults) are typically routine. We don't test ourselves enough mentally (or physically, which is what Mr. Carroll is referring to, but I'm going to focus on the mental side).


Game Masters are facilitators


What does being a facilitator mean? You oversee the meeting, set expectations, go over who's in the room, go over the agenda, keep time, enforce the rules, keep the group focused on the task at hand etc. Does this sound familiar? Brace yourself: you might be what society has labelled "a nerd"!


If you are disbelief, shock, and/or denial don't worry - once you embrace the brutal truth and look at TTRPGs as a tool to improve yourself, you will become a better facilitator!


Being a GM will give you a lot of facilitation training and you can experiment on different styles (without the risk of losing a client). You learn to handle conflicts within the group, work with different types of people, improvise when the group surprises you, learn how to get the best results out of the team and much, much more. Facilitation might even be a skill you didn't know you had until you GM a few games. Who knows, it might be your career calling!


Like GMs, facilitators need to have the right tools and people in the room to have a successful game. You will need an agenda, visuals, and a way to keep the group focused and engaged in their quest. You should summon an ally: someone that can draw up your agenda, outcomes, rules etc where all can see it. A person trained in the art of visual storytelling, someone that can pool all the discussions into illustrated memories. One live illustrator to pool them all...  

Have Silent James in your adventuring party


A great asset to any meeting is having me live illustrate the discussions. How valuable was drawing dungeon maps during games? The GM would describe the rooms, and one member of the party would draw them out on graph paper to help them strategize their next move and serve as a reminder of what happened. Similarly, I create a story map or illustrated memory as the meeting unfolds. These images are a valuable tool to the group throughout the meeting, and are a resource to share and learn from for ages to come. Think of them as a +20 max modifier to your skills :)


Are you game?


Planning a strategy meeting, conference, or reception? Do you have a studio project in mind? Do you want to play a TTRPG? Contact me today and let's create an illustrated memory together!

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