potatodialogues: (Default)
"What makes a successful campaign?"

My answer to this upon first seeing the question was a very kneejerk, "A successful campaign is one in which all participants have fun," which is well and good, but that's also very vague though a worthy ideal to strive for.

A successful campaign for me means that the players and the GM must be satisfied with it. But what is satisfaction? How does one have a game that is satisfying for everyone? Satisfaction for me is something of a buzzword, something I associate with work and work-related motivation. Excuse me, then, as I ponder on this question the only way I know how: by applying management theories to it. Let us look first at the Two-factor Theory, aka Herzberg's Motivator and Hygiene theory.

"[H]e found that job characteristics related to what an individual does — that is, to the nature of the work one performs — apparently have the capacity to gratify such needs as achievement, competency, status, personal worth, and self-realization, thus making him happy and satisfied. However, the absence of such gratifying job characteristics does not appear to lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Instead, dissatisfaction results from unfavorable assessments of such job-related factors as company policies, supervision, technical problems, salary, interpersonal relations on the job, and working conditions. Thus, if management wishes to increase satisfaction on the job, it should be concerned with the nature of the work itself — the opportunities it presents for gaining status, assuming responsibility, and for achieving self-realization. If, on the other hand, management wishes to reduce dissatisfaction, then it must focus on the job environment — policies, procedures, supervision, and working conditions."


To translate, there are two factors to satisfaction: Motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators revolve around a worker's sense of achievement and of self, of being challenged and contributing to the organization, of status improvement, and of personal growth. Hygiene factors deal with the work environment, including interpersonal relations, compensation, supervision, and other material matters.

The interesting part about this theory is that motivators lead to satisfaction, but the lack of motivators typically does not lead to dissatisfaction, while the presence of hygiene factors does not lead to satisfaction, but the lack thereof leads to dissatisfaction.

So, let's now translate things in game terms. To analyze that first part (motivators), it would mean that when a game contributes to a person's concept of personal growth and sense of achievement, of feeling valued and doing valuable things, it leads to satisfaction. Personally, for me it's things like character development, story collaboration, and personal growth, so these are what we call my motivators. I include things like experimenting with character concepts and undertaking personal challenges as part of personal growth, but your mileage may vary.

"[H]e found that game characteristics related to what the player or GM does apparently have the capacity to gratify such needs such as a sense of achievement, character development, story collaboration, and personal growth, thus making him happy and satisfied. However, the absence of such gratifying game characteristics does not appear to lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction."


The second half (hygiene) are what I believe are basic aspects to a game that must be there as the minimum. If these were not in place, it would mean that I would become dissatisfied with the game -- a little bit or a lot, it depends. For me, it would be like so:

"Instead, dissatisfaction results from unfavorable assessments of such game-related factors like interpersonal relations with fellow participants, respect at the table, equal spotlighting on players, an effort to have a decent venue and space for play, and considerate player interaction."


I think these could use some work, but you get the gist. I'm actually a little bit picky with my minimums, and have others unlisted, but again, your mileage may vary. I think it's important to know what one's motivators and minimums are, because it's only fair to those at your table to know what your expectations and desires are coming into the table and we should be able to articulate them to an extent. At the same time, it's also helpful to know what others at your table want, so you can contribute to their fun. This blog topic then can surprisingly be a strong piece for self-reflection, if people were to identify the factors that they prioritize in games and communicate them with others.

Anyway, to close that quote off:

"Thus, if GMs wish to increase satisfaction of the game, it should be concerned with the nature of the game itself. If, on the other hand, GMs wish to reduce dissatisfaction, then they must focus on the game environment."


I think that's pretty fair, assuming that GMs are there to take on the facilitator role traditionally identified as management in organizations. Of course, the management of this may actually be the job of other players -- I fully believe that everyone at the table is responsible for the fun of everyone else -- but most things would still apply.