The most powerful force is a group that forms into a team.  It gains momentum as it focuses on a common goal and empowers not only the members of the team but sends out a wave of energy calling others to join. Without the focus of the goal enlisting each member as a purposeful and autonomous contributor you just have a group.  Clumped together as  tangle of humans pulling in different direction as they wrangle over what and who is important.

The most effective teams in our current culture are Gamers: MMO (massive multi online players), RPG (role play gamers) and E-Sports games.  As VO (voice over) Artists in the Gaming Industry we were given a 48 hours challenge by the Voice Over Network ahead of the Get Your Game On Conference weekend event. Our mission was to create a one minute trailer for a hypothetical game themed Endeavor with the ultimate aim of using tools to get us home.

Friday evening amidst a flurry of emails, we agreed on a WhatsApp group then moved over to a Skype meeting.  Once there we started with who had what skills and equipment and who was Alex? Well there were a few!  So we became the 5 Alexes! We consisted of all voice artists with the added bonus of 3 with home recording studios and Alex P with the software and know how to do sound design and mix. Another Alex was an avid gamer and Dungeon & Dragon master with YouTube presence. With the forming stage of our project team out of the way, we began storming Endeavor scenarios ideas and roles. Broke for a two hour dinner and thinking break; on returning  Alex P had laid down some soundscapes, Alex M (D&D master) had churned out  3 script outlines, I had contributed  dialogue snippets and Nano and Anthony had casting and direction suggestion to realise our brief: endeavoring to get home using tools….we imagined landing in a pod on a shard like planet which was imploding. Our craft disabled and abandoned now an object of destruction heading our way in 48 hours.  We had agreed on rules of play and deadlines for delivery of voice recordings to Alex P who had a ready bank of sound samples and ideas to create the atmosphere.  Alex P became the sound alchemist taking all our contributions and mixing matching creating the magic that became our 1-minute trailer.  We operated as a tight, interdependent, motivated, knowledgeable, competent TEAM! Just as you would have to be if you played that game –just as you would need to be to get off that planet before it imploded!  Decisions were collaborative as we challenged the outcomes and offered constructive suggestions and guidance to each other.  The magic was woven through with gleaming stands of mutual respect and encouragement:  what is working well –even better if was our mantra.

I have witnessed this ethos again and again in start-up cohorts in incubator and accelerator programs I work with. Most of them are born social (30 years and younger) and are gamers.  They intrinsically understand the rules and nature of team development: Forming Storming Norming and Performing.  They go through these stages effortlessly because they have been working in global on-line gaming teams and know in order to win you have to work together bringing different skills sets and taking the action necessary to move the whole team to the next level.  In a RPG game character’s bring their skill sets and do battle in succession; sharing wisdom, finding weapons, blazing trails and changing roles depending on the skill needed.  Just like our group.  In the gaming this is how games are made too.  Some many ‘fingerprints’ on each game as contributors from writers to designers and sound engineers, illustrators and directors absorb each others contributions as well as the bonus of ever changing tech.  As one producer commented at the weekend ”…it’s a miracle games are every made!”

What I love about start up and gamers that sense of comradery like ‘stone soup’ in which the foot sore soldiers returning from the wars come upon a village,  hoping for a decent place to sleep and perhaps a morsel of food to share.  The villagers see them and knowing that soldiers mean trouble; raiding the larders and confiscating their goods they hide all the food and anything of value telling the soldiers there is no place for them.  One of the group produces a stone –a soup stone he says—and asks for a large pot and the use of the well in the village square as they are going to make STONE SOUP. Well this the villagers have to see –so they provide the pot and water the soldiers gather wood and soon there is a roaring fire setting the pot to boil.  They reminisce about the different times they’ve enjoyed stone soup –which is even better at the last village when a few potatoes were added to thicken up the broth.  Well –if it’s just a few potatoes you need I can spare a couple two -three… and so it goes adding a bit of carrot for flavor and some spices and finally a bone from the butcher to give it richness. The pot begins to smell marvelously.  There will surely be more soup than we can eat –says one of the soldiers—you must all bring a bowl or a mug.  And they do –along with trestle tables and bread from the baker.  It is the most wonderful soup and having eaten their fill they begin to play the fiddle and dance celebrating the miracle of making soup from a stone.

This is the ethos in the gaming world as opposed large traditional corporate businesses where I have witnessed silo behavior, lethargy, useless rules stifling creativity and stagnating action. They operate like starving  people stealing food (market share, internal recognition and reward) from each other; gamers spread a banquet and offer a challenge!  Winning isn’t everything –it’s the only thing and yes that win most definitely depends on the quality of play.

@Staciastory Storyteller Voice Artist & Founder of StoryPreZ: Discover, Design and Deliver your Story Pitch or Presentation