I frequent forums about being a dungeon master for games of Dungeons and Dragons. One of the problems I see come up a lot is “I want to have an entire session about a certain PC but I’m afraid of singling one player out.”
Many people are afraid that their other players will be jealous that one player is special, even for a short time. They want to make sure their players are equal at all times. Here’s the thing:
It’s good to single characters out.
I’m not talking about pointing fingers like “Jim ruined the previous fight.” I’m talking about having sessions devoted to individual PCs, fights tailored to individual PCs. Of course, you do have to do this in equal measure, people will feel left out if you devote every session to how awesome Jacky the Dwarf is. But on a session by session basis, players should feel special.
This same idea applies to video games. The player should feel like they’re the only one who can do their job. This is simple in single player games. The player is “the chosen one” or “the last scion of the lookyloos of the third door.” In MMOs it gets a bit trickier. In MMOs the player is one of many, all working towards a common goal, if the player doesn’t succeed, someone else will.
That’s why it’s important to make them feel special. In games with a party dynamic, both MMO and DnD, the player should feel like they are a unique character. They want the other players to say “Oh man thank god we brought Ben along, he’s the best Resto Druid around.” In DnD they should be glad they brought Suzette the thief because stealing without Suzette the thief would’ve been a real pain.
And so you tailor your encounters, your adventures so that everyone has a chance in the spotlight. Everyone should have an important job to do that only they can do. The thief needs something to steal, the cleric needs someone to heal, the paladin needs something to protect, the dance-specced monk needs a rug to cut.
That’s all about a gameplay point of view. The players also need to feel special in the story itself. When I DM, I look at the backstories of each player and wonder how to fit them into the campaign. For example, one PC was looking for his father so he could beat him in a fight and become a man. I put the father just out of the way of the main journey and the entire party had a little sidequest to go find him.
In a different campaign, each PC needed to gain the aid of a primal spirit so each PC had a session dedicated to their specific skillset with the rest of the party backing them up. While the party was the focus of the campaign, each player briefly became the main character.
If you do things right and don’t completely shut out everyone else, the party won’t mind someone else being the focus for a bit. Everyone should get their turn in the spotlight and feel like the most important thing in the universe for a little bit.