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Role Call

Matt Morgan • Aug 29, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Games have been a part of our culture for as long as we have been capable of telling a story - arguably our species' most unique feature. Thus, we can turn any task into a game in order to either enjoy it more personally or teach the subject to others.


The very nature of a game is to reach some defined goal or victory without actually needing to hunt the dangerous animal or decimate your population through war. By obeying certain rules the challenge increases as elements of skill or luck are introduced. Historically we can look back to ancient games such as Roman harpastum and Ethiopian mancala as venerable ancestors to what we enjoyed in the Middle Ages (chess, shogi) and in modern times with hanafuda (Nintendo's first game...in 1889) and Monopoly. Today there are games of all kinds that cater to any physical or mental ability, interest, etc.


Side quest: check out Board Game Geek (www.boardgamegeek.com) for some awesome games you never knew existed and would probably love to play!


One of the most prominent has been the popularity around RPGs, or, role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. As the name implies you are a part of a team that has been sent out to do any number of tasks from the mundane to fantastic. Everyone on the team has a character with a unique set of skills, abilities, and outlook on society. Your role in the party is shaped by what you bring to the table.


Are you more of a "defender" type? Capable of taking the hits (hopefully metaphorically in business) and drawing the attention to yourself while out in front. Perhaps you are a "striker" class? You can dish it out, you are a go-getter, a get-things-done kind of person. There is always the "leader" who lends a hand in supporting the team, keeping them going, and remaining optimized. Lastly there is the "controller" archetype who is great at moving things, people, and obstacles around to where they are needed most from behind the scenes. Did you think of yourself as any of these? Perhaps the people in your office, business, or classroom fit?


Where this becomes relevant to accomplishing the goals of the game is that it is difficult to tackle a situation if everyone is a leader or striker. Balancing your party is paramount. Assigning tasks to those who are strong in them while covering for the weakness in others is important. Unlike in other games where you can "char-op" (character optimization) on paper, more flowing and overlapping branches of talent trees are present in real life. So get to know the abilities of those around you while respecting their lives and desires. Sometimes a defender would like to step back and be a controller every now and again on an assignment!


Here's a fun presentation on just what kind of party dynamic exists. It also helps reinforce that the characters just aren't a work "type" but a person too with their own thoughts and feelings. This video is safe for work, though some other songs (game-related as they may be) of his may not be.


Ballad of the Mages - Brentalfloss



BONUS! Integrate some gaming terminology into your everyday life for fun or to better describe a particular situation/person. Examples are given below:


BBEG - "Big Bad Evil Guy" or usually the Main Boss, the foil to the heroes

ex:  Osama bin Laden, a bully at school, or even how you view your actual boss


fetch quest - usually a mostly unimportant task that has you go somewhere to do something menial in the hopes it supports either a side quest or main quest

ex: As you get up to grab a coffee a coworker asks you to get some more paperclips for her because she doesn't want to get up. Oh, and some coffee for her too please. And tell her if Mary is at her desk. You're such a doll, thanks.


maguffin - the one and only thing that can solve a problem or compel the activity with no exception

ex: The One Ring, or conversely, Mount Doom as the only thing that can destroy the One Ring. In real life usually things like tax issues/levies are depicted this way or some kind of policy a lawmaker concocted to be the silver bullet to a perceived problem.


main quest/story - your primary goal

ex: Retire happily after having lived a fulfilling life with friends, family, and coworkers. Or defeating the dragon.


Mary Sue - the perfect person who is perfectly perfect in every way, even his/her flaws are strengths and they can say nor do any wrong

ex: Superman (my bias may be showing a bit here). A real life example would be akin to someone who says, "Yeah, I eat a lot but don't gain weight. I work out a bit, but usually I don't do too much. I read a lot of books on religion but would say I'm just more spiritual. Ok, I actually just saw it on TV but I'm pretty good about figuring stuff out and being able to tell if someone is lying without a problem."


side quest - something ancillary to the story or goal that is important but not directly related

ex: Picking up groceries on the way home so you can make dinner. A bit of a "necessary" fetch quest.


tank/meat shield - a person who takes the hits for other people or otherwise covers them

ex: "Did you see Jim tank that customer complaint? He saved us all a headache, what a meat shield!"


YouTube - Videos from this email


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