I would be very interested in what term people who run a game like to use for themselves when describing what they do, since that title may set the tone for the game at the outset on a given table.


I've been playing RPGs since 1978 when a friend brought a blue box with a picture of a dragon on it home from a holiday in the States. He obviously became our Dungeon Master, which quickly got shortened to the DM. Then we all started taking turns being the DM too.

However I remember there being a stigma to RPGs (I think Shrek coined it "Busy not fitting in") and "Dungeon Master" was particularly difficult! Then there was Games Master, GM introduced for us with Traveller I think.

Then there is referee, Ref, World Master and I am sure many more.

What do people call themselves now? Why? Is there any stigma or self-consciousness that you feel is attached to the term used for the title of the one who runs the game?

To focus this question:

  • It is my opinion that what the person who is running a game calls themselves in relation to their "job" has a strong relationship to both the expectations of their players and their responsibilities in running the game. This also has a direct relationship to a lot of other questions on this Stack Exchange that run something like "How do I handle players who don't..."
  • I believe that this title can directly influence those who run games, in terms of how they feel about the "Title" when talking to others. Do you think the name you give your job is important or, like Sardathrion rightly points out should it just be "mate"?

I also think it has a great bearing on whether or not some people might feel too self conscious to take on running a game if they have to call themselves a Dungeon Master, and thus the Social tags to this question.

For the direct question:

What should I call myself if I am running a game and feel the title Dungeon Master is too silly or too embarrassing (to them) to attract players?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I call myself by my first name but will accept "mate" or other endearing terms. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Oct 16 '15 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The site handles surveys poorly. However, there's probably a scholarly question in the last sentence that a user with some research experience could answer. Perhaps, if such a question interests you, it'd be something like Does the term for a the person running a role-playing game stigmatize the person running? or Does the name given to the person who runs a role-playing game change the way that game is run? Both such questions are brutally narrow, probably drawing evidence from already-performed studies if such things even exist. Good luck. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 16 '15 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I notice that you haven't taken the tour; you should probably do that, and maybe spend some time reading bits of the help center to get an idea about why this kind of question is discouraged here. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 16 '15 at 14:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I edited this to tease out what you are getting at, but you still have more questions than one good /answerable question should hold for this SE. Please review the edit and either revert/reject (if I've missed your intended meaning) or at least change the questions in the middle to statements that lead up to the ultimate question that you want answered. (PS: Referee predated Dungeon Master in TSR's original ruleset, Chainmail/Original D&D "... The campaign referee" in the Foreward to Men and Magic, 1974, DM was originally one word, dungeonmaster, Foreward to Blackmoor (OD&D Suppl 2). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 16 '15 at 15:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ all, be careful to avoid the temptation of answering in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 16 '15 at 15:16