February 20th, 2011

Game Officials becoming Players

Definition - Game Official: Anyone who runs a game - Storyteller, DM, GM, Referee, whatever. Since they essentially officiate what happens at the game, I use the term Game Official because it seems every game has a term for them all their own.

Okay, so:

Here's a question. I think it's a generally accepted maxim that not every RPG player has the chops to be a Game Offical, but I am kinda curious - if someone goes too long as just a Game Official and doesn't get to actually play, do they become a different animal altogether? That is to say, can people who have held the center chair too long every become "just" a player?

I mean, it would seem that the answer to the question is obvious, but over the last few years I have discovered it might not be the case. I have hosted or seen Game Officials in other games exhibit a wide range of behavior that runs the gamut from quirky to annoying to downright disruptive. Some of the worst stuff includes:

Impulsive jockeying for leadership of the PC party.

Incessant backseat Official-ing.

Failure to respect the chair. (which sounds a lot more pompous than I mean it to, really, when I say "respect the chair" all I mean is that a Game Official needs from time to time to be able to lay down the law and have it followed by the players.)

Failure to respect the other players.

Interfering with the mood by "yanking back the curtains" on a scene or interaction.

Picking apart rulesets to the detriment of table morale.

There's other stuff, and these examples can CERTAINLY be applied to players who have never sat in the center chair, but, much like many doctors will tell you that the worst patients are doctors, I am beginning to wonder whether or not the "worst" gamers are people who usually run games.

Am I out to lunch?