Hall Without Oats

Running a game of significant size is often times a joint effort and a passion of love that multiple people share together.  This joint effort can be in the form of a story telling team, business partners, or a symbiotic relationship of in character and out of character management.  When things are good, watching two well-tuned game organizers working together is like watching a ballet.  When things turn sour, that ballet very quickly turns into a kindergarten school play.

However, over a long enough period of time, eventually one partner in a dynamic duo is may lose the drive to make a game be a success.  Another potential is that neither partner in the duet has lost the love for the game, but instead, has decided that they no longer want to work with their partner. So with this transience in mind, you should probably think (and maybe discuss) ahead of time what a partnership will do if things are split.

No matter how amicable the intent for going different directions is, often civility suffers as the division process goes forward. One person feels they are more entitled than the other.  Maybe one of the people have large plans that involves the prior created joint materials, and the second partner isn’t interested in releasing their claims to those materials.  Maybe the people involved despise each other enough that their real world lives are intertwined with legal issues and nastiness.

So what do you do when the band splits up?  Here are some suggestions.

1) Communicate in writing whenever possible.  A conversation over a table is not something that you can point at as a reference in the future. Leaving a paper trail ensures that all people involved can be held accountable for being on the up and up.

2) Determine what the intent of all parties involved is at the start of talks, and make sure that intent is in writing.  If one part of a team decides they are done, and the other just wants to walk, this is the easiest of issues to handle.  As the individual who is continuing with the game, you will want written confirmation that your partner is discontinuing their interests for future reference.

3) If there are shared investments, handle these items to the best of your ability via a mediator. While the extra step may seem excessive to small community games, for larger scale business games ensuring that all contractual requirements are taken care of is key.  Who owns trademarks?  Who owns copyrights? Who has possession of materials? Who has possession of physical properties?  All of these are items that should be considered.

4) Understand that outside relations very well *could walk away after the split*. If you and your prior partner were Frick and Frack, chances are good that anyone you partnered with partnered with BOTH of you and not each of you individually. If your business partners have some solid sense, they see the strengths and the weaknesses of each person involved and see how partners can make up for one another’s shortcomings.  As someone who is breaking up a team you need to accept that outsiders may have been investing in the team, and not one of the two individuals.  Your outside relations may very well walk when partners split.  You should be prepared to either lose what outside ties you have, or, to have to start back at square one with your relations. Re-application may be part of this starting over, or, having to engage in new contracts.

5) Being passive aggressive is poison that kills yourself more than anyone else. Try to not play the popularity game, or the “my-side/their-side game”, or the “friendship on the line” game.  Normally people who try this approach, if they have any success, find that the success is short lived.  Poisoning your own pool with negativity just makes it so that you know you won’t be able to swim later.

Will these steps make your division painless?  Maybe.  However, how difficult a division is for the people involved in a split often times is more dependent on the intent and process of those involved in the split instead of the nature of the split itself.  If one of the individuals in a split WANTS things to be painful and difficult, then things are going to be a bumpy road.