(Still catching up).
Forests are evocative settings. There are the liminal spaces between settled land and wild, the deeper forests with their ecologies apart from human intervention, and the deeper magical places we imagine when we walk in them. Landscape matters to me as a GM and player. I haven’t been able to walk in a forest for a while now, with the world in lockdown, but I have in games.
“I volunteer as Tribute!”
Or “I’ll try DMing!” That first time you step up and run a game, it can feel daunting. But somehow you make it through that first session and you feel that incredible buzz afterwards. Same with starting teaching as a librarian. And it is rewarding, but you also need to keep paying tribute to your craft in planning and preparation time, constantly reflecting and developing your skills in response to you r various groups of players and learners. Wouldn’t give up either experience for the world though.
Still catching up. I’ve often said that GMing was my first management experience. They say sharing a vision, making it happen, is a trait of leadership. Perhaps that’s true. Certainly, a GM does that, whether taking someone else’s material and building on it or creating a world of their own for their players to explore and discover and make real. Though also, I like to remind myself that part of the joy of RPGs, and perhaps many other group activities is that each person sees things slightly differently even while working together. Unless you’re aphantasic, you will see images in your head as things are described. To one player, that old tower is a grey, ruined shell. To another, it’s a Disney castle overgrown with vines and moss. To a third, it’s that old windmill they remember from their childhood. And to the GM, it may appear nothing like any of those. And that’s OK. To lead, to GM, isn’t to impose your vision, but to share it with others and let them build on it.
Still catching up.
Thread: there are threads of story, of clues, we set up as we prepare sessions. There are threads of continuity in our worlds sometimes. And there are threads we see as we reflect on our GMing and our teaching as we see our evolution as facilitators and our players and students’ as learners and roleplayers.
Another catch-up post. Change is all around us these days. I ran a convention game online last weekend, and I will be running another, masked and in the open air with rigorous limits on player numbers, tomorrow. Regular games have gone online, online games have become peer-support groups as much as a shared hobby. And at work, I have been teaching and supporting the students online since March. And even this “new normal” is subject to change – lockdowns ease, are re-imposed. We adapt, we shift our strategies. But at heart, our students’ needs are the same, the social and creative outlet of games give us the same benefit.
Each August there is a challenge – post something related to your gaming on each day. I am rather behind with this year’s, but here’s my attempt to catch up.
Day one is “beginning”. How do we begin a game campaign, or a course of study, or a single session game or lesson? In some ways, all need an indication of expectations and outcomes. All need buy-in. All need the GM or teacher to be aware of their vision for the undertaking but also of what their students or players need and want from it too.
My name is Andy. Nobody calls me “And”. Except very occasionally my sister. And almost never is anyone called a “gradu-and”. Except for an hour or two during a graduation ceremony.
Last week it was my turn, along with several colleagues on the PGCPHE programme and several hundred students at my institution. I was on the podium party and also robed up to receive my handshake and moment in the spotlight, with my SO in the crowd.
Reflection is rightly a big part of a PGCert, and this was another occasion for reflection. Sitting still for an hour or two, watching the students take their turn on stage and applauding each, your mind wanders. How many of these students did I teach research skills, and how did I help them in their studies (if I did)? Does my own experience on the course over two years help me empathise with students any better? How has my career, my life, changed since I was at my own undergraduate ceremony so many years ago?
In many ways, the ceremony has no meaning. You pass the course, you receive your certificate, whether you put on the robes and walk across the stage in front of your family or not. And yet, it does mark the end of a course of study. It does give recognition of effort, and marks the end of a portion of ones life dedicated wholly or partly to study and learning. It is also, for most of the students, a time to look forward – to the next stage in their education or to the start of their career. to what they will build on what they have learned and the qualification marking it. “And” is a conjunction, a joining word, and so too is graduation – that brief time of being an “-and”.
Tomorrow I visit Southampton hospital. Not for treatment – I am running workshops to support the nursing apprenticeship students there and in other trust hospitals. I am looking forward to it. They have different needs from the law students with whom I usually work, and yet there are similarities in their need to get to grips with evidence-based practice and how to find and cite that evidence.
“Every dancer has a trump card”
Nice post from ballerina Olivia Cowley (she’s so right about Osipova, by the way). And what she says can apply to any adult learners, especially in a professional context. People go into professions where they have a strength, or potential. But unless you’re one of the few Natalia Osipovas of this world you will have other areas where you can develop, and learning requires both playing to your strengths and awareness of need to develop in other aspects of your professional persona and skillset.
Natalia Osipova, by the way. Yes, I am a fan.
I recently took possession of “Gaslands: Refuelled”, the revised and expanded version of the cult post-apocalyptic wargame (and excuse to play around with toy cars). I have played it at my library games club before, but with only basic rules. I set up a game using some of the new content, a one-vs-many scenario, where the others were attacking my war rig and its defenders. The game built on their existing knowledge and consolidated that, while introducing newer elements incrementally. By the end of the session, they were more comfortable with advanced rules and options, and looking at how they might build teams using the new content.
Everything’s about learning. Even playing with toy cars.