The McCarthy Show #5: Discovering Alignments, and Concluding My Own.

This is it! Week five. The final installment of my series on The McCarthy Protocols. I hope, if you’ve followed along, that these protocols have gotten clearer and clearer as they’ve been explained. There’s only two short protocols left. The Investigate protocol, and the Personal Alignment, arguably two of the most important protocols in the Core, and the latter of which is, in my own opinion, the cornerstone of what the Core is all about (hence, I saved it for last!)

You may have noticed these introductions have been getting shorter and shorter, and that’s simply, I feel, because the pieces are falling into place. It’s less explanation and more internalization – that’s kind of how this process works. It always feels really goofy and silly in the beginning, but as it comes together, it really cements the dynamic of a team together. As always, you can return to the very first introduction post here and read from the beginning if something doesn’t make sense, or click here to go to official online Core Document. Additionally, leaving comments and feedback is a welcome way to Ask For Help on using the Core, or simply talk more about it in general.  – I  really enjoy working with them, and have done my best to implement them with the various teams I’ve worked on since graduating college even a few short months ago. Anyway. Let’s get started. Read on!

Investigate Protocol

The investigate protocol is how you discover what’s going on in another persons mind. You might have noticed that most of these protocols do not allow for you to ask for “why” someone does something in a certain way. For when those situations occur (and they REALLY need to be addressed), the Investigation protocol comes into play. There is only one step to the Investigative protocol: “Act as if you were a detached, but fascinated, inquirer, asking questions until your curiosity is satisfied, or you no longer want to ask questions.” Seems simple right? The key though, is the first part of that statement: Act as if you were detached from the situation.  You should only be asking well-formed questions which will increase your understanding – but not feed emotionally from them. Like a professional inquirer (a journalist, for example), you should only ask questions if the subject is engaged, and appears ready to answer more questions.

Unlike a journalist however, asking questions is not your job, so if you realize that you cannot remain detached, you MUST stop. And like a (good) journalist, you should refrain from injecting opinion or “leading” questions into answers that you want. Theorizing or providing a “diagnosis” about why a team member has behaved a certain way – characterizing them – is probably one of the most frequent causes for a Protocol Check when using the Investigate Protocol, because too often investigators forget that you should not have an agenda. Investigation is ONLY for gathering investigation, so if you can’t say what’s on your mind, it’s better not to say it – consider checking your intentions, ending the Investigation protocol, or checking out for the time being. The best way to Investigate is to ask “What” questions (“What do you want from X”, “What is the biggest problem regarding X?”,  “What is the most important thing blocking X?”) rather than asking questions that ask “Why” and invite stories (Stories are explanations and justifications – we don’t want those. They do not offer clear and efficient communication. Remember, according to the Core commitments, you should always decline to offer, and refuse to accept, incoherent emotional transmissions.). One of the best uses for the Investigation protocol is to help discover someone else’s personal alignment. And speaking of which…

Personal Alignment

We come now to the very last “protocol,” the Personal Alignment. The Personal Alignment is a little bit different from the rest of the protocols. It’s not something you can “do” like Checking In or Asking For Help. The Personal Alignment is actually more like a commitment. It’s a goal. The Personal Alignment protocol helps you “penetrate deeply into your desires and find what’s blocking you from getting what you want.” Use it to discover and articulate your goals. It’s something you should always strive for. I’m not entirely fond of the way the original Core document defines the Personal Alignment, so I’d rather put it more simply: Simply ask”What is it that I want?” Common Personal Alignments include “I want X” where X is an attribute or a virtue such as courage, integrity, passion, peace, fun, efficiency, communication, or self-awareness. From there, it is a matter of finding out what is “blocking” you from what you want.

For me, in my Indie Team Game Project class, I chose the virtue leadership, because I often found myself having good ideas but being too timid to express them. It is important to create a token of some sort at this point – something to pull your Personal Alignment out of your mind and into the physical world. It can be as simple as writing it on a piece of paper and placing it somewhere where others can see it. The next step is to create a simple Signal/Response reinforcement pattern with your team members, or create an assignment to do something “X” number of times per day, which requires you to practice living your alignment in some way. I went the former route and created a pattern signal/response with my team members – when I took charge of a direction or put myself in a position of leadership, I would actively make a point of saying so, and my team members would respond to this action with the phrase “Aye, Aye captain!” Sure, it’s goofy, but not every personal alignment has to be lighthearted. For me, it was a simple and effective way of helping me be comfortable in doing something I hadn’t been used to doing before. By the end of the semester, we dropped the “aye aye captain” response as I stopped actively saying phrasing along the lines of  “I’m going to take charge for a moment” and simply did it. That should be the final goal of your Personal Alignment: Live it. It’s an embodiment of everything the Core really is – beginning something, and seeing it through to the end in a formalized and coherent way.

In a way, this post is the final part of my personal alignment from my final school semester: Evidence. The last part of your personal alignment is to write, in specific and measurable terms, the long-term evidence of practicing your alignment, and I think it is really easy to say that Leadership is a quality of teachers. In writing this blog series (and indeed, this blog as a whole), I am intending to teach people about what it takes to design games, and how to design audio for them. And so that’s what I’m going to do, and that has been the ultimate goal of writing this blog: Being a Leader and helping to guide others in the fields of game and audio design.


Well. That’s it. It’s over. That’s the end of my series with The McCarthy Protocols. It’s been a really cool experience recalling the lessons from school. They say that the best way to learn something is to teach, and while I’m not actually sure I’ve taught anyone yet, it’s exciting to know that I have a grasp on these protocols enough to the point where I can (hopefully accurately) describe them in detail. As you may or may not be aware, I’m currently involved in three game projects, and have successfully convinced each team to adopt some of the McCarthy Protocols and Scrum methodologies into their workings.

And speaking of Scrum…I may or may not be organizing another series on scrum in the near future. By which I mean, I probably am. As soon as I get a good outline drawn up. 🙂 Might take a while with all the projects I’m currently working on! In closing and in conclusion, I am extremely proud to say that I have completed the goal I set to help instruct others about this very valuable paradigm, and I sincerely hope you might have found something useful to take away from these protocols, and hopefully have a good grasp on how you can implement them into your own teams henceforth.

Thank you for your time.
– Chris Prunotto

As always you can jump to the overview post by clicking here.