J. R. Guillermo
Gaming, Collaborative Storytelling and Building a Culture (Part 2)
Updated: May 13, 2020
Part 2 of 2
In my previous post, we covered a basic overview of this emerging trend of player audience agency and collaborative storytelling. What I will do now is list five things organizations can learn from this new evolution in storytelling.
Conscious Participation leads to personal investment. In traditional storytelling, the audience’s investment in a story is dependent on an emotional connection with the story they received, which increases the risk for the storyteller. But where the audience is consciously participating in the making and telling of the story, their investment in the development of the story increases as they are now not just receiving the story but actively participating in its making. Because the story will carry part of their identity in its own, the player audience will want more involvement. If the participants in your organizational culture are more conscious of their role and the infusion of their personality in the formation of your organization’s story, they will embrace your organization as an extension of themselves.
Personality fit is more important to organizational culture than skill set. This isn’t to diminish the importance of skillsets, especially when your organizational goals are tied to the possessing and using certain skillsets. But when it comes to building an organizational culture, finding the right personality fit can be the difference between a cohesive, unified organizational culture and a disjointed and disgruntled one. You can see this dynamic in gaming, where efficiency-obsessed “power gamers” and “min maxers” grate against more expressive “role players”, who in turn are frustrated by the “explorers” who wish to expand the story experience by going off the beaten track and delaying reaching more satisfying story beats. These differences have been known to break groups. Besides, in many cases, you will find that the personality you most need will have developed a skill set you will want down the line. In any case, many skill sets can be learned, but personalities are hard to change.
Do not be afraid of personal expression. If you have the right personalities in the people in place, the infusion of personal expression in how they fulfill their roles can provide your organizational culture with enough uniqueness to stand out against other, similar organizations. At the very least, this can make your organization a fun place to belong for those who are already in it. At its very best, this will lead to more outside interest, either in the form of sales, engagements, or simply more people wanting to join in.
You are all protagonists. Just as each member of the player audience infuses some part of themselves in the collaborative telling of the story, so does each properly invested member of your organization leave his or her mark in the telling of your organizational story and the formation of your organizational culture. Every role, no matter how significant, has a protagonist at the helm whose story merges and strengthens yours.
Culture is organic. Critical Role, the most popular tabletop gaming group to watch on Twitch and Youtube, started out as a thrown-together Dungeons and Dragons game by a group of voice actors who decided to make videos of themselves playing. What created its following was the endearing stories created by the initial player audience among themselves as their blend of personality and chemistry lent charm and credibility to the story beats they created with each other on the side of the bigger campaign they were playing. The group’s internal culture and personality grew organically out what each individual consciously put into the story. The strongest organizational cultures grow organically from the stories and personalities each member-protagonist puts in. While it is tempting to impose an organizational culture from the top, the more resilient culture is what takes root on its own, drawn from those participating in it.
If you want to experience for yourselves what collaborative storytelling can do for your organization, try out a little Dungeons and Dragons. Or try playing a multiplayer RPG as a team or a closed group. Either way, take note of the dynamic that emerges between the players, as well as the stories that result from the experience. Watch out though, for you might end up in your own gaming group before you know it. The collaboration can be addicting.
We at Overmind are also in the process of developing our own tabletop game and seminar for those of you who want a collaborative storytelling experience more tailor-made for your organization.
Read part 1 here