February 23rd, 2011

What Makes A Good Game Official?

So, last post I put up, I asked if a Game Official tended to be a more problematic player than someone who wasn't usually someone who ran games.

I got a great spread of opinion on that (thank you), but part of the by-play between Skurtchasor and Matt_Rah (related to the Sungod I suppose) caused another question to emerge, one which I perhaps should have asked before I asked the one I did:

What makes a good Game Official? What makes a GREAT one? Do you make the distinction? If so, how?

What skills should they possess? How knowledgeable should they be about matters outside the game (because IMO sooner or later, the real world DOES bleed into games, especially our real world's history and it's nice to know stuff about stuff). Do they have to have a decent speaking voice and cadence? How much prep time should they put into a game, or does that matter? Anyone who wants to be a G.O. must have SOME degree of interpersonal skills, but are there any that they simply MUST have more than any other?

What do you think? What makes the good ones good, and the great ones great?

And because there is a trend towards rotating or group game official-ing, what do all the players need to make that work? Is it really easier to run a game when the burden is shared or do you run the risk of the game faltering if one person takes over and they really don't have the chops to run it? Can you compensate for that, if so, how?


Ten dollars, six ill games, one supremely good deed

Thus spake Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat, game designer extraordinaire:

"This is my friend Karla. I’ve known her for years, since I lived in Alabama. She’s one of the sweetest, kindest, most inspirational people I know: she’s battled depression and become stronger for it, she’s raising her daughter on her own (and doing a fantastic job), she works hard for a church-run daycare and loves what she does. She doesn’t spend much money on herself, and she loves life more than most people I know.

"A month or so ago, Karla was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. If you’re not familiar with this genetic disorder, it’s a condition in which pigment builds up in your eye, clouding the receptors, and makes RP sufferers blind somewhere in their 40s or 50s. There is no cure, and the only things that might delay blindness into her 50s are high doses of vitamin A, and wearing big dark sunglasses whenever she goes outside.

"Karla doesn’t do much for herself, as I said: she’s a single mom working at a church daycare and all of her money and energy go into her little girl. She's struggling to stay positive, and making a list of things she wants to do and see with her daughter before her vision worsens— many of which are nearly impossible in her current situation. On top of everything else, RP is genetic, and Karla is waiting to find out whether the same fate awaits her little girl. This breaks my heart, and I want to do something for them both.

"The Sight For Sore Eyes Benefit Bundle is a group of games and supplements donated specifically for Karla. At the very least, it will help her buy a pair of quality sunglasses that can delay her blindness for up to ten years; hopefully we raise enough to cross one of the more modest activities off of her to-do list.

"The games are:

• Mars Colony, by Tim Koppang
Polaris, by Ben Lehman
Remember Tomorrow, by Gregor Hutton
• Murderland, by Elizabeth Shoemaker
Perfect, Unrevised by Joe McDaldno— along with all the reference sheets
• Geasa, by Jonathan Lavalee
• And a special, bundle-only Apocalypse World character class: THE HOARDER, by D. Vincent Baker

"This bundle is only $10 for all six games, so please donate! This offer will only be for a limited time, and all funds go to Karla and her daughter. Also, if you could please spread the word at your favorite Internet haunts, I'd appreciate it."

I just picked this thing up and I can guarantee it is tight. Six games from some of the illest designers out there and it's all going to a good cause. I mean seriously … Polaris? Gregor "3:16" Hutton? A secret Apocalypse World class? You shouldn't have to think about this one for too long! =D

Click on Elizabeth's name up top to get to the donation page!