Going Digital At The Gaming Table
At long last, July 11th has come and gone. Why does that matter? Why is that date so significant? Well, it’s “The Year of Shadowrun,” and July 11th marked the eagerly anticipated release of Shadowrun 5th Edition. Now, while I was unable to get my hands on a physical copy of the book, the PDF was made available at digital game stores such as DriveThruRPG, and I made sure to get myself a copy at my earliest opportunity. I have since been pouring over this massive digital grimoire with jovial abandon. It was in going through the digital book that I started thinking about how digital books have become something of the norm in some of my groups and just what that means for gaming.
Having a well-put-together digital book offers a great deal of benefits. Bookmarks, for one, are an incredible resource for finding various topics, rules, gear, and more in what are normally quite thick documents. In addition, having digital copies and a hand-held device to read them (such as my kindle) eliminate the need to carry around a bag with (I kid you not) more than 50 pounds of books to various games, as I had to do for my weekly Pathfinder game. Digital books are often less expensive than their physical versions. Using Shadowrun 5th Edition as my example, I paid $20.00 for it at DriveThruRPG, while the actual hardback book is going to run closer to $50.00 when it hits store shelves. With digital copies, it is also possible for groups to go together to purchase the game and then share the file among themselves. While a bit shady, and I am all for supporting the gaming industry (thus why I have already purchased the game in both formats, although my physical copy has yet to arrive), I also understand that many gamers are unable to contribute as much to the hobby as they might like. Any contribution is better than none, after all. All in all, using digital copies has shown to make life much easier for Gamemasters and players alike.
Now, that isn’t to say that there are not problems with going totally digital at the game table. I have already mentioned the issue of file sharing above, which also lends to the issue of gaming piracy. Piracy hurts the gaming industry overall. I feel that if you enjoy a hobby, then support it. Encourage those who produce it to produce more, and of higher quality. It can sometimes suck to be that one guy at a game table who actually paid for their books while everyone else just wants to borrow yours or gets pirated copies from various file sharing sites. Physical books are a great way of supporting the industry, and they are also really nice to have on hand since most of us are more accustomed to flipping through pages than we are scrolling through text (at least I am anyway, but then again I might just be old-fashioned). Finally, and yes, I know its silly, but I have met some gamers that have some odd superstitions regarding only owning digital copies. Still, don’t discount the gamer superstitions or they will bite you in the butt… or at least in the dice rolls.
Personally, I cannot see myself going 100 percent digital with gaming. I have too much love for the simple joys of actually holding a new book in my hands. Even so, I do recognize the benefits of owning a digital copy of the game and do make use of those advantages. Every gamer is different, though, so I know that there are those who will completely shun the digital and those who embrace it fully. To each their own. As long as we are all telling stories, rolling dice, and having fun, it works for me.
Expect my look at the crunch and fluff of Shadowrun 5th Edition sometime next week.
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