Table talk refers to what is said at a game, during a game, that has nothing to do with the game. Basically, it is what players are often doing when not in the spotlight, while the Gamemaster is currently focusing on another character. Honestly, while many Gamemaster’s find it annoying, it is to be expected. Gaming is a social experience and people like talking to one another. This is why, in that regard, I accept table talk as a basic expectation while I’m at a game.
That said, the old adage “too much of a good thing” does come to mind in regards to table talk. When people start trying to talk over one another, especially when one of the people being talked over is the Gamemaster, that is when you have a problem. That is when table talk becomes a distraction and needs to be toned way down. Otherwise, it detracts from the enjoyment of the game for both the player who is the focus of the Gamemaster’s attention and the Gamemaster. Trust me when I say that the last thing you want to do to the person who holds the fate of your precious characters in their hands is annoy them. Knowing how to control your own volume, as well as having the courtesy to not talk over the person running the game, are both important things to know when attending a game. Common courtesy, after all, is never a bad thing. You wouldn’t try talking over someone at a dinner party, after all, so don’t do it at a game table either.
Recently, I have come to see that this is exceptionally important when you have someone who is joining in the game via video-chat. We now have a player who games with us through the use of Skype‘s video-chat service, as they currently live more than four hours away from the rest of the group. For them, it can be incredibly difficult to hear what is being said by the Gamemaster and other players when there is a great deal of background noise to contend with. Thus far, gaming through this medium has been a successful endeavor, but it is not without its problems; this being one of them. Controlling table talk has gone from being fairly lax in our group to being much more strictly monitored because of this. We cannot have someone not able to hear what is happening when someone is shooting a lightning bolt at them just because someone else wants to show off funny pictures of cats on their smart phone. People have made it a point to come to these games to game, after all, not to see your funny pictures. I am sure their great, but they can wait. Priorities, people. Remember your priorities.
As I have said, I am not against some amount of table talk. I expect it. I am even guilty of doing it myself, I won’t lie. However, I also try to remember to do so at a whisper so as not to talk over whoever is speaking in-game at the time. I also do my best to pay attention to what is happening in-game even when it is not my turn to act. Doing so helps me be ready when my turn does come up, as I don’t need to spend extra time asking “what just happened?” when I should be doing something. Players, please, control the table talk. Be mindful of other players and the Gamemaster. Just because it isn’t your turn doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be focused on the game itself. That would be like changing the channel during your favorite show just because your favorite character doesn’t happen to be on the screen at that exact second.
Good gaming, my friends.
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