It is a very common argument to say, "There are some people who make good DMs, and there are some people who don't." It seems to make sense, particularly from one's point of view. Some have given it a try and failed without knowing why ... whereas others do quite well at it, and yet cannot explain the reason.
Where there seems to be no reason for why something can or can't be done, it is easiest to say, "must be an inborn trait." Then, if you don't happen to have that inborn trait, you're not at fault; and if you do have that inborn trait, you're just lucky. Matter explained, we can move on to other things.
After thousands of years of civilization, it continues to puzzle me that human beings yet believe that if the reason for something is not immediately evident, there must not BE a reason. I wonder how many times people - as a mob - must be smacked in the head with the contrary truth to that belief in order to culturally re-identify shit they do not know. If there IS something inborn in the human psyche, its the confounded insistence that if something is not evident to "me" after having given it a lot of thought, then it must not be something that can be made evident. Period.
Here's what I would like the gentle reader to try. Open up a blank page on your computer; take a sheet of paper and a pencil, if you must. Please type or write at the top, "List of things which I have personally contributed to the store of human knowledge, which were unknown by all humans prior to my contribution."
Go ahead. I'll wait.
If you wouldn't mind, please type them out in a comment and reply to this post. I am sure we would all like to meet you.
So, presuming you haven't commented, upon what track record of thought are you basing this certainty that some people were 'born' to be DMs and some weren't? And if, having it now rubbed in your face, upon what grounds do you have the right to be certain of anything?
Yes, I'm an arrogant bastard. Yes, I feel often that I have the tail of truth in my hand and I'm willing to beat the beast on the carpet if it serves to make my point. This is why I'm never willing to "agree to disagree," because I know damn well that one - or both - of us are wrong, and I'm prepared to fight it out intelligently until I know which for sure. I am unwilling to rush to an explanation like 'he was born to DM' because I have absolutely no evidence to prove that any of us were 'born' to do anything well.
On the other hand, I have plenty of evidence to suggest that we do things well because we are taught the important elements of that thing, we want to do that thing and we are encouraged to do that thing. Most of us who DM 'well' are doing it because we want to ... and we've surrounded ourselves with people who encourage us. We wouldn't do very well to surround ourselves with people who hated our worlds, nor would it be very easy. I don't imagine you'd think you were a very good DM if you only played with people who were rounded up by guards with pistols and forced to sit at your kitchen table. On the other hand, I suppose, you might delude yourself in a number of ways, that the guards were doing an important service making these people who wouldn't willingly play in your world come and learn to appreciate your genius, that sort of thing. At the same time, there must be some of you out there who think you're being encouraged by your players when in fact you're not. So perhaps encouragement from others, for some, doesn't have to be a real thing. In that case, I would have to argue that your wanting to do what you're doing must be really strong, since you're willing to rework reality to fit your needs.
Uh ... good for you?
That aside. This post isn't about your wanting to play, or your being encouraged to play. It's obviously about being given the tools to play ... and let's really admit it: the amount of teaching most everyone has received on "how to be a DM" has been, well, lacking.
So don't be astounded that no one as yet has had an astounding breakthrough in the field of game management mechanics. Don't be surprised that there isn't a school course yet, or even a really poorly managed community library course you can pay $50 for. Try to realize how unlikely it is that anyone who 'played D&D' in high school is right now an educated therapist with access to millions of dollars of equipment, who actually gives a shit about D&D anymore. Probably pretty low.
Which means we're all just shooting in the dark here, people. You and I and all the people digging around to find answers are in the infancy of this thing, fighting and arguing the salient points and still nowhere close to really identifying the hardcore substance of the game, its effect on humans or on culture, and how to do it well.
One thing we don't need is a lot of groundless conjecture automatically slotting all the playing persons in the game into "Can be a DM" and "Can't" based on nothing more than a feeling or a gut instinct. There are a lot of people out here who WANT to DM, know they haven't got a handle on it yet and don't need to be told right out of the gate that the word of GOD is that they're fucked from the get-go 'cause their mothers didn't invest them with the proper dice fetishism in the womb. Yes, no doubt, YOU can't think of a better way to be DM; YOU don't have any advice for these poor souls who are trying; YOU haven't five minutes of patience to help them over the hurdles or give them the advice they need.
And by Jesus and the third coming of the Rat People, if YOU don't know how to help them, obviously NO ONE does.
It's a skill. It's a habit. It's a combination of strategies and tactics ... and anyone with the wherewithal to keep trying can eventually get it.
You know, we don't let some people be doctors because if we did, they'd kill people before they got good at it (not that medicine has always been so limited). D&D doesn't remotely answer to criteria like that. Maybe we should let people who are right now bad at being DMs time enough to get good. Maybe we should stop measuring new DMs by a three-strikes-and-you're-out philosophy.