I am a business owner. I run Adventure Capital Travel, a travel agency that caters to the geek community and which has clients all over the country. I also do freelance writing and art. I also play roleplaying games like D&D. You might be wondering how this is all related.
Simply put, I have learned more about how to run my business from my skills as a gamemaster than any other source has taught me. Some people might laugh at that; after all playing RPGs is simply pretending and rolling a few dice, right? Yes, but it also teaches some excellent skills which have several real-world applications.
Anyone who has run or played in a game know that gamers are a varied bunch, sometimes with conflicting personalities who approach things in many ways. Having run games now for about 23 years, I have learned how to read a person and get to know how they might approach things. It has made me familiar with people, and has given me the insight to be able to deal with and handle people regardless of their personality. As the gamemaster, you have to do everything from mentoring people to resolving conflict between players.
A common adage among gamers is that no plot survives contact with the players. A truer statement has rarely been spoken. No matter how well a gamemaster (the person who makes up the stories the players characters go through and acts as referee during the game) plans out an adventure, players will throw a wrench into it. Sometimes, they may take the left tunnel instead of the right or occasionally they won’t pick up on a story hook at all and will just go off and do their own thing. Unlike characters in a book or movie script, characters run by the other people in the game rarely do what you, as a gamemaster, want them to do.
As a result, this has given me practice and the mindset that I need to be one step ahead. I am used to looking at possibilities, even those that would seem outlandish. Once the unexpected does happen, I almost always have at least an inkling of an idea about how I am going to handle it and what the best way to do so will be. Running games has given me the skills to improvise and be creative, and to expect things to go wrong, in ways no school can truly teach you. This is especially handy as a travel agent because, if something goes wrong with someone’s trip, I am expected to find a way to fix it.
The third great skill being a gamemaster has taught me is the ability to problem solve, and to do so creatively. I don’t just “think outside of the box.” Most of the time, I don’t even realize the box is there. Again, as a travel agent there are occasionally unconventional problems that arrive. And unconventional problems often need unconventional solutions. My problem solving skills have been honed on the battlefield of imagination, where situations in-game can arise for which there are no real-world analogues that apply.
So, is playing an RPG all about rolling dice and killing imaginary dragons? Yes. However, what most people don’t realize is that it also builds skills that are necessary to be successful in life. It exposes people to many different personality types and situations, and forces them to solve problems using some very creative and interesting solutions. These are skills anyone can use, but has been especially useful in my line of work as a travel agent.