What Do You Do?

Here and there in my posts you’ll see subtle hints and outright confirmation that I love games of all kinds. Computer and video games, board games, card games, role-playing and story games. Thematic games, abstract games, little games, big games – basically games of all kinds, purposes, styles and descriptions.

I have a particular fondness for role-playing and story games. I love the countless possibilities when one reads a game and appreciates the intent and flavour that someone else has presented – that is now open to interpretation, modification and enjoyment by the people who are going to play. It’s a great thrill!

In many role-playing games, whatever their mechanical rules or genre, there is a fundamental question asked by the people playing whenever a situation is encountered: What do you do?

  • A dragon appears in the dungeon! What do you do?
  • You try to open the door but it’s stuck. What do you do?
  • The person you’re talking to has answered your question but you’re not sure if they’re telling the truth. What do you do?

There could be a facilitator for the game or not. You might be playing with a group or responding to prompts in a text. You might be rolling dice or drawing cards to influence the outcome but still at some point the question is always, “What do you do?”


It strikes me that this simple question is one that helps a lot in so many other situations, even with the viva.

  • You find a passage in your thesis after submission that doesn’t read well. What do you do?
  • Your first-pick for external examiner has cancelled. What do you do?
  • You have a week before your viva and want to boost your confidence. What do you do?
  • It’s two hours into your viva and your internal has called for a break. What do you do?
  • It’s two hours into your viva and your internal has asked a question you’ve never considered before. What do you do?

You might have an idea in mind. You might need to ask someone for information or help. You might not be in a hurry. Eventually, you have to do something. You’re the only one who can do something to move things forward or start the process.

It might not help to consider endless “what if…” possibilities, but considering how you might approach particular challenges could help. More importantly, recognising that it really is you who will have to do something to resolve a challenge, big or small, can help you realise that you’ll need to take action.

So, what do you do?

Succeeding in the viva is not a game, but it can help your confidence to have a winning strategy. You don’t need to play a role to pass. If a challenge presents itself pause and ask yourself what you will do. Then do it and move closer to your ultimate goal.