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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Games We Play: Technology And Your Game

When I first started role playing, our highest tech was an electric typewriter. Later, I owned an electric typewriter that I could program to print entire character sheets... which I then took to my mother's work to make photocopies of. As time went on, computers entered our lives and we gained access to so much opportunity. The world became our oyster.

In the past, when you wanted to send a discrete message to the GM or other player, you simply wrote it down and passed the note like you were in 6th grade. With the addition of instant messaging (IM) and texting, things became a lot easier.

There were several times where I would use IM to my advantage. Often times, players didn't realize anything was up. With today's smartphones, it's even more discrete. Does this make the game more enjoyable? I think it definitely adds to the game... but as a GM I would advise you to be wary of your players using this too much. I understand multitasking, but often times people get too engrossed in what they're doing on their computer or phone and not concentrating on the game at hand.

Recently, the owner of our cities game store... where we play a weekly game of Pathfinder... asked our group what additions we could come-up with to help make the private game room better. One idea came up that really struck a chord with me, and I have been pondering the idea ever since. The idea was of adding a digital projector to the room. I guess this would be for easily sharing images of characters or perhaps maps of the locale/dungeon. The room already has a couple of white boards on the wall and a large battle map so I'd never even considered a digital projector.

I know that I have some friends that have connected their computers to their large screen television's so they can stream whatever they want from the internet. I've done it a few times myself. There has been the idea that, while I enjoy purchasing laminated city maps to use in my games, the same thing can be accomplished with Google Earth and the aforementioned TV. While I have yet to actually utilize this idea, I look forward to the day I can give it a try and see if it performs to expectations.

I admit that I bring my iPod Touch to the Pathfinder game I'm in. Even though the store we play in doesn't have free wi-fi, I have some great apps that are very useful to someone who only owns the core player's guide. Spellbook helps me keep  wraps on what my Cleric can cast and is a quick reference for what each spell actually does. Dice Bag, for those times when you forget your actual dice... not that I've ever done that. Criticals for people who remember the create critical charts from Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP). The one that I actually had to pay for is called PF RPG rd which includes most of the published Paizo source books that you might need for your game.


  1. I will say while I am okay with alot of tech I hate a few pieces of tech during game.

    One of those things is digital dice. People tend to hide what they actual roll and cheat even more than they do with real dice.

    I also hate in a TT game if people send me a text with their plots because I almost never am paying attention to my phone. Just pass me a note. I like the obvious secrecy and my games to have a little more transparency.

    In a LARP though, because of how much running around we do. I make sure everyone has my phone number and getting texts is way easier to pass information, and also if I forget to narrate for someone and people need my attention get it that way.

    Technology many times become a distraction. People use it to track things, but they also pull up some other game when they arent the focus of things and miss something important, or start checking their email and stop paying attention.

    Its a fine line to walk for the ease it generates vs the distractability it can cause.

  2. Even though I have a couple of digital dice apps on my iPod, I don't actually use them. I prefer the feel of actual dice.

    Recently, I've noticed that players that are utilizing their laptops during game are often not true multi-taskers and are very distracted from game. This makes things very annoying for those players who are actively participating in the game.

    My rule as GM/DM/ST is if you use tech at my game and it becomes too much of a distraction, you'll be asked to leave it at home or set it aside. If my game is not entertaining enough for you, then I guess you should re-evaluate coming back.


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