2019-05-04 Referee Certification

Recently, JB wrote about Certifying Dungeon Masters and mentioned Jon Mattson’s article in Dragon #28 (August 1979), “Level Progression for Players and Dungeon Masters.” In the comments, Dennis Laffey quoted the requirements for being certified as a teacher for English as a second language, and I proposed to rewrite them as follows:

You need to run games for 120 hour or 40 sessions, whichever comes first; run a game for 6 hours or two sessions, observed and be given feedback by an experienced referee; observe an experienced referee for 6 hours or two sessions; submit 4 written blog posts about how you run games and a portfolio of your gaming products (adventures, house rules, spells, classes, magic items, etc).

All we need is an organization to formalize it!

  1. The organization would be organized as a Swiss association which ensures that it is run according to democratic principles.
  2. Its’ members can certify other referees (get two players to confirm the 120 hour or 40 sessions; observe games being run for 6 hours or two sessions and give feedback; let themselves be observed for 6 hours or two sessions; read blog posts and gaming products). The result is a report sent via electronic mail to the registrar.
  3. Newly certified referees are free to join as members.
  4. Membership is $1 per year. The web presence is paid for using these fees. The rest constitutes its cash reserve. The association’s liability is strictly limited to its cash reserve.
  5. The management roles we have: president, cashier, webmaster, registrar. There are yearly elections.
  6. In case of complaints, the president shall designate three members to investigate. The three possible outcomes are: no action, revocation of certification, or expulsion.
  7. If the three investigators reach an unanimous decision to revoke certification, a report to that effect is sent via electronic mail to the registrar. The revocation is noted by the registrar and thus takes effect. The decertification does not strip one of membership and voting rights.
  8. If the three investigators reach an unanimous decision to revoke membership, a report to that effect is sent via electronic mail to the registrar. The revocation is noted by the registrar and thus takes effect. This does strip one of membership and voting rights.
  9. The association’s president may reinstate former members.

Something like that? Only half-serious, of course. I don’t even know if this is an actual problem because I haven’t run into situations where this would have helped. When I had referees I didn’t like, they were either new to running games (in which case knowing that they lacked certification wouldn’t have helped) or they apparently had been running games for a long time but I didn’t like their style (in which case they would have gotten the certification anyway). Basically the certification shows that a referee has some experience, it doesn’t show that the referee is good. And really, how would you do that? Just like teachers: you know that they have taught the necessary hours, but you don’t know whether they were any good. That seems to be the limitation of all such things. The rest will have to be trust built on social media and word of mouth, as has always been the case. Which makes me wonder: why are we doing this again?

I guess I just like the social challenge of how to set up and run such an organization.



Is this all a parody that I am not getting?

I always try to be diplomatic and polite, and respect other people’s oppinion, even when I disagree with it.

But this GM rating thing feels like it’s the dumbest thing related to RPGs I’ve ever heard.

What’s the point of that?! So players can say “I really would like to play in a game, and I like you as a person, but your record says that you don’t have tallied up a sufficient number of hours running games to gain the previlege of me playing with you”?

Yora 2019-05-04 11:56 UTC

It’s a half parody, as far as I am concerned. I think it’s preposterous, but at the same time, when I sign up for games at a convention there are four or five people dedicating four hours of their life to a game and wouldn’t you like to know that the GM is good before doing that? Like looking at the ratings on all the websites of the service industry from hotels to drivers, restaurants to rooms, or labels on food, don’t you want to know a little something? I know I do. Perhaps it’s the Zeitgeist. And that makes it all the more poignant for me. Plus there is the culture shift, for me: away from friends I know from school towards strangers that meet on the Internet before playing together, not knowing anything about each other, and not planning on being friends beyond the confines of the game. That too I find interesting.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-04 12:28 UTC

It’s one of those ideas that may sound good on paper (I mean, were I to spend a lot of money to travel to cons and such, I’d certainly choose GMs who has a good track record), but would ultimately cause more harm than good (imagine how hard it would be to get into GMing at cons as a newcomer).

Still, I had a good chuckle, and isn’t that the point of talking about elfgames? 😝

Ynas Midgard 2019-05-07 08:52 UTC

Yes! I laughed when I read that table of level titles, too.

  1. Initiate
  2. Apprentice
  3. Expert
  4. Overseer
  5. Supervisor
  6. Moderator
  7. Mediator
  8. Arbitrator
  9. Referee
  10. Referee, 1st Class
  11. Judge
  12. Dungeonmaster

Specially as I think about people using “referee” (like me) or “judge” (like Anne), or ... Dungeonmaster – which is obviously the bestest title. 😀

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-07 09:26 UTC

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