I mean, we gamers tend to be easily distracted. No more than anyone else, I would imagine, but distractions lead to issues at a game table far too often for them to be brushed off as simple annoyances. Now, I am as guilty of being easily distracted and allowing my mind to wonder as anyone, but I feel that being aware of the problem is the first step in finding a resolution for it.
Technology is wonderful, both in general and as a gamer-aid. Being able to check an SRD or forums when you have a question regarding a rule is an amazing thing. Playing via a digital sheet on a laptop or kindle is great for saving on paper and toner. Email and Facebook are wonderful tools for keeping in touch and scheduling. However, technology is also the greatest source of game distractions. As fun as they are, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have no place at a game table. Even when not their turn, players really shouldn’t be playing on their phones. Much like it is considered rude to do so in a movie theater, it is a distraction to other players as well, as well as often an annoyance to your Gamemaster. No matter how cute that picture of a kitty is (and yes, I am aware of how cute they can be), it can wait until the game goes on break or finishes up for the night. The other players will survive not being exposed to the cuteness or the hilarity of your videos/pictures for a few more hours. They’ve gotten this far in life without them, after all.
Table-talk is also a big distraction, as previously mentioned. It takes multiple players out of the game mindset and can become overwhelming as people struggle to talk over one another. Again, this is a more serious problem when you have someone gaming with you via Skype or some other video service, as it is much harder to filter out background noise. Keeping this under control is a big step in limiting gamer distractions.
Now, I am not one of those Gamemasters who demands that all their players remain perfectly silent when not their turn, turn off their phones when at a game, or use nothing but old-fashioned paper character sheets. Its a game, not a chore, and the more restrictions you put on yourself and your players, the more chore-like it becomes. However, when every player does their part to try and keep themselves focused, limiting their own distracting variables, it helps the game run more smoothly overall. So, in short, be your own keeper. Try to keep your mind on the game. I know it can be boring when your character is off doing something and the Gamemaster is focused on another character at the moment, but please be patient and wait your turn. Its not easy being a Gamemaster, and we try our best to provide everyone with a fun and enjoyable experience at each and every game. Be kind to us, I ask you, and to your fellow players.
When at a game, be at the game.
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