I’ve noted a few places online that there’s some sort of debate percolating about the interwebs about the utility/appropriateness of allowing technology at the gaming table. This seems to focus primarily on the players and their smartphones/iPods/iPads, etc. and whether these are a distraction to the gamers and the group in general. Time for me to weigh in. Well, maybe not, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I’m a bit technophile, that’s no secret (search the site for my posts on the iPad as a GM tool.) I’ve been using a laptop to GM since about 1996-97. I always wrote out my adventure notes in spiral notebooks as a kid and in the 1980s, but with my first desktop computer, I realized I could hold onto the notes for longer (notebooks have a tendency to get lost, full and thrown out, or tossed with a move.) I printed out adventures for use, could craft character sheets or backgrounds with pictures, etc. When the laptops got cheap enough, I jumped — you can have the machine at the table, with access to all your notes, have dice programs, etc.

Originally, I fought a losing battle with gamers over cell phones — no calls/texts while gaming. Most of the players were cooperative at first, but you’d let them slide for an “emergency” and next you knew, they were at it all the time. so the rule is now, no texting or answering the phone while you’re in play. If you’re on the sidelines, go ahead. With the iPod and smartphones, most of my players are now using dice programs on their phones, save for a couple of Luddites who prefer the feel of rolling the bones. Most still have their printed character sheets, but on the rare occasion I’ve gotten to play rather than GM, I’ve had my character sheet, the books, and the dice on my iPad.

Essentially, if you play with adults who respect each other, you’re not going to have then being rude about their tech use. If you play with people that can’t communicate with others in the room without texting, you will. (Although I’m sure someone will state it’s a good way to pass secret notes, and just as disruptive as handing off a slip of paper.)

What do people use at the gaming table, I wonder..?

(How do you like my swanky new poll widget? I feel so Buck Rogers…)