Saturday, March 9, 2013

Game Masters Versus Technology

So life continues to beat me soundly across the face while sneering, "You like that." My mother, who after having her foot amputated and spending months in physical rehab, because she also had leg bypass surgery at the time in order to do the amputation, has a kidney infection and was running 103 fever and is back in the hospital. My job was supposed to change in January and is only now starting to take effect and while I'm grateful for the opportunity, there are so many things that are off in the way the reports are run and so much to learn in terms of the data sources, that I'm a little over whelmed.

Having said all that, I decided to go hang out with my friends who were playing Mage the Awakening. I myself didn't play, I just wanted to hang out with some of my peers and crack some terrible jokes, drink some Svedka , enjoy some tostados and some Cuban style bean dip. The Svedka was interesting as it was their new pina colda version and the bean dip was all sorts of excellent.

As I was just there as a noisy guest though and not playing, I noticed that everyone had a laptop or a tablet. These devices were being used to house character sheets and the core book and supplements. They were also being used to play music and other bits.

Now I'm not saying Game Masters need to put a ban on technology at the table, but the lure of technology is strong. On a blog about writers I follow, the author was discussing one of the potential reasons for e-book sales being flat, is that as full range tablets, not readers, continue to grow, people have better things to do with those tablets than buy a $14.99 e-book. For that price, have many variants of Angry Birds can you get eh? Well, for a PDF reader, how many other aps might a player be using when they should be paying attention to the game itself. And how many times if you need to reference the book during game play, should they have read it ahead of time?

There are no short cuts. Reading has to be done at some point. Doing it at the game table because you don't know how your abilities work, how the game system works, or other issues, can be a potential heat death of the game as every time it comes to your action, you now have to look it up. It's a bit of a clutch in that aspect. Mind you, I understand that people are busy. I understand that games tend to be larger in volume and more complex than they were thirty years ago.

But read the book all the way through at least once and make your notes from there because at the end of the day, you're still going to have to read it, but now you're doing it on other people's time.

Which, if everyone has a tablet, can be a bad thing because now those other bored people are... yes, surfing the net, reading a book, playing music, using IM, watching a movie or playing a game.

That was in part my experience yesterday and hell, I thought I'd be the disruptive one, but I can't hold a torch to technology gone wild!

How about other people? What have you experiences with tech at the table been?