Back in 2010, I took a three month job with Wizards Of Coast and that turned into a three year journey. If you are not familiar with the company, they make the popular Dungeons And Dragons role playing game and the insanely popular Magic, The Gathering collector card game. I was hired to help update a database tool that transformed editorial content about mystical worlds into components to support a subscription based online resource for serious gamers.
Basically, Dungeons & Dragons is a weird hybrid of story telling and group game play. The storyteller, called a Dungeon Master, facilitates the game play by unfolding the story as players take turns. Based upon decisions made by players, the roll of dice and sometimes a flip of a card, both the story and the game can branch into different directions.
So the group of characters which the players have created bring unique skills to the effort. Additionally, each has a set of tools they start off with and tools they pick up along the way. They set off on a quest and have to coordinate efforts, communicate effectively and use problem solving skills to survive. Many times, the quest is actually a series of individual efforts that can span days, weeks or even months. Many times the players are prepared for the unfortunate events that unfold and sometimes they are not. Sometimes you loose characters along the way and that is considered unfortunate and can seriously affect the overall effort.
Are you getting it yet? No, not the premise behind D&D. The project management angle in regards to this narrative, are you getting it?
Quest = Project
Characters = Team Members
Decisions/Dice/Cards = Decisions/Outside Factors
Magical Characters = Team Member Skills That Look Like Magic
Magical Tools = Software Tools
Coordination/Communication/Problem Solving = Coordination/Communication/Problem Solving
Unfortunate Loss Of Team Members = Unfortunate Loss Of Team Members
When I was first introduced to the game during my first week, I had an odd feeling that I had played this game before!