"Wanted fan in Luna City,
wanted fan on Dune and Down,
Wanted fan at Ophiuchus, wanted fan in Dydeetown.
All across the sky they want me, am I flattered?
Yes I am!
If I could just reach orbit, then I'd be a wanted fan."
-Larry Niven, from Fallen Angles.
At the beginning of this year i had an epiphany.
I had been running my games with a majorly false assumption about my role as DM.
I had always tried to make my games hard. I always figured that the whole point was for me to challenge my players. Each encounter becoming more and more deadly as they progressed. Each encounter became dependent on skill rolls and it was always a constant contest between my players and myself.
Then i picked up Apocalypse World after a particularly wonderful one shot.
In reading it, it gave me a suggestion that caused a light bulb to go off in my head.
"Be a fan of the characters, your job is to make their lives more interesting not harder."
Now i get that some of you may have taken that short line of text for granted. But, for me, it completely changed the way i looked at the whole dynamic. Now as a DM my job is to make the game more interesting for the players, not to make it harder for the characters. I now look at each game as a film of sort. A film in which i root for the characters walking around on this screen that exists in this theater of the mind. I want to see what they will do when they win. I want to see what they do when they fail. I want to see what they do when the players start seeing their plans and other machinations come to light and fruition.
I have taken this Powered by the Apocalypse mindset into all of my other games. I now want to see what the characters do next. I root for them and am maybe a bit over eager to see them be awesome.
This suggestion has allowed me to get back to the concept of "Games are supposed to be fun". No longer do i feel the need to find the best way to kill my PCs or stymie a group. It has changed my gaming style and has allowed me to go from "Running games for others" to "Playing a game with others". The difference is huge.