What does Spotify’s engineering culture have to do with RPGs?
A couple things came up in this video that, me being a RPG nerd, made me think about GM-led games.
1. It’s like being in a jazz band. This video uses the same jazz band analogy that Ron Edwards has used in talking about functional, improv-focused, i.e. “Story Now” play — which to me is just good play in general. Namely, we can all be improvising while simultaneously knowing exactly where it is we’re going. They talk about it in terms of having high alignment in conjunction with high autonomy. Namely, that a “servant leader” (i.e., not a “master”) can provide clear direction — “We need to solve problem X” — while also allowing team members to pursue said solutions however they see fit. I can’t think of a better definition of enjoyable GM-led play.
2. A culture of mutual respect. This, again, seems key to me in fostering a healthy group dynamic. The video talks about how they emphasize trust over control, and avoid politics and fear, as both simply hamper innovation. This seems totally in sync with the sentiment (and practice) behind the X-Card and similar techniques aimed at ensuring that everyone at the table feels comfortable contributing.
“Servant leader”is also great terminology, IMO, and plays into both #1 and #2 above. “GM” is simply a role like any other adopted by a player as a part of play; they are a peer at the table, not a superior.
There’s also reference to a lot of Agile practices that I’ve written about in the past w/r/t RPGs, namely about being nimble and focusing on small efforts so that adaptation and re-alignment is easier.