Dungeons & Dragons is a peculiar game.
It involves a story teller guiding players along on an adventure, placing roadblocks along the way to heighten the excitement. It’s a give and take relationship where the players and story teller are always reacting to each other.
That’s not the peculiar part.
The storyteller is in charge of creating the world and the adventure. They do their best to account for the multiple branches the players could venture towards in the game. However, the story teller is always stifled by one rule:
If you’ve thought of twenty solutions to a problem, the players will think of twenty one.
Items or situations they never even conceived at the time are suddenly thrust into the game and a decision must be forced out of the story teller. They must answer the fundamental question the players are asking:
Are you going to let this happen?
To which the storyteller will respond, “That’s not what it was meant for.”
However, they must be flexible in their thinking to allow such seemingly random procedures to be given a fair opportunity. It might even lead the players and story teller towards a path even more exciting than was once conceived.
Or it could end in disaster.
It has to be permitted before the reveal can occur.
How often are we told that a certain tool must be used a specific way?
While there are safety measures to some tools (i.e. keep me away from all power tools unless you want to be driving my clumsy self to the hospital), that is different than how they are used.
Divergent thinking is the reason “the new norm” occurs. Consider IKEA hacks, Instagram poetry, craft beers, spreadsheets activities and molecular gastronomy.
All those were a result of finding new ways to use the same tools as others, without anybody getting in the way.
To me, it’s going back to that Dungeons & Dragons game. Some of those attempts may have ended up in disaster (as I’m sure happens often), but different avenues have opened up thanks to the willingness of the storyteller.
We are the enablers of creative ways of thinking.
“That’s not how you use it,” is one way to stop it from happening.