One final (?) GMing observation from this year’s GenCon took a few days to bubble up the surface: The best GMs I gamed with were confident, but not cocksure.
Confidence is the pink shirt of GMing, a key ingredient that will make any game you run better. Even knowing that (and having written that post), though, it was interesting to see it in action.
Observing that a lack of confidence hurt one of my group’s GMs wasn’t a surprise — lack of confidence is always going to lead to problems. She did pretty well despite not wearing her pink shirt, and hopefully she got a bit of a boost from running games at the con.
What was surprising, though, is that our one truly bad GM’s main slip-up was the he was cocksure — not just overconfident, but absolutely certain that he was running his event the right way. It’s the difference between “I know what I’m doing, and I’m not afraid to make mistakes” and “I know I’m right.”
If you don’t think you’re capable of making a GMing mistake — particularly one so fundamental as assuming your players like bedtime stories (one of the guys at our table actually fell asleep) — that’s a real problem.