How do you feel about Texting at the gaming table?


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Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

How do you feel, If you are the Gm, and you are running a game, and during one of your descriptions, you see one of your players texting at the gaming table?

How about if you are a player, and you see another player texting at the table?

Is it rude to do this?

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
ElyasRavenwood wrote:

How do you feel, If you are the Gm, and you are running a game, and during one of your descriptions, you see one of your players texting at the gaming table?

How about if you are a player, and you see another player texting at the table?

Is it rude to do this?

Depends, Are the tweeting about the game? or are they planning that sexy date with their GF?

Less problems with the first, more problems with the last unless it is important.

I find even more annoying are when people are laying Phone games at the table, I have had that happen.

Dark Archive

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Same as any other social Situation, it's rude and disruptive. I have stopped people from doing it, as it detracts from the game.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

It really depends on the reasoning. If it is his wife/girlfriend and she is texting him for an important reason, who am I to tell they shouldn't be texting one another. But even that it can be bad enough if they keep texting. 'An important reason' is one text to ask and a response, not back and forth because she misses him.

Although if friends just send texts for fun (like friends who are bored), then yes, I would think it was rude if the player kept answering them. I would hope they would just turn the phone off.

We had a player in our group who would bring his laptop to the gaming session and play video games. Annoyed me to no end. I told him outright if he wants to play D&D, that's great. But if he wants to play video games, then stay home.

He ended up leaving the group quite awhile back for other 'personal' reasons. I haven't missed him.


Hate it. It's incredibly rude to everyone. If you want to game, prioritize and set aside time to game. I'll be describing the scene to our group, a rather large one, and one regular is always on his computer reading PDFs, texting, spending an hour or more at a time on the phone with his b&@@%y girlfriend nobody likes, and so on. All nonsense that detracts from everyone else's fun that can be done at other times. Then action will start to happen, be it combat or whatever, and whenever he decides to start paying attention again we all hear: "So, what's happening now?" And everything has to stop for the scene to be re-setup and nobody is happy having to wait so the last player can get up to speed because he was busy discussing what color of curtains his girlfriend should buy at 1:30 in the morning. We've had a group discussion about it. We all agree that that stuff has no place at the table. It still happens.

I'm instituting a new policy. I'm bringing a hammer to games now. If you fiddle with electronics to the point where you aren't paying attention, I'm smashing your phone/computer/whatever. That's the first offense. Second offense...pick the toe you least mind getting smashed.


Text messaging can exacerbate existing conflicts. I tend to ask players to leave their phones on another table (while leaving them on), but my group's good enough to turn off their phones.


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Ringtail wrote:
I'll be describing the scene to our group, a rather large one, and one regular is always on his computer reading PDFs, texting, spending an hour or more at a time on the phone with his b~+%$y girlfriend nobody likes, and so on. All nonsense that detracts from everyone else's fun

What? How is what he is doing distracting from anyone else's fun unless he isn't keeping up with his part in the game? I've played with people 120% engaged in the game and ruining my fun because they kept holding it up from any sort of progress whatsoever.

I can spend the entire game playing a game on my computer and still keep up with what everyone other single person has done this game session, most of what is going on, and what has happened the majority of the entire game history. And the "most of what is going on" is mostly caused by my mind blanking when someone brings me up directly, which happens whether I am paying full attention to the game or not.


I don't mind if they use their phone to look up different PDF's like you would in a book, but the texting between husband and wife (one plays on Friday the other on Saturday due to their kids) is going to drive me and the other GM insane.

He'll leave his phone on vibrate, on the table so it shakes the whole table...

Both constantly complain about being skipped and "what's happening?".

I find texting at the table rude, and selfish. I agree with Ringtail's solution.

Dark Archive

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Ringtail wrote:
I'm instituting a new policy. I'm bringing a hammer to games now. If you fiddle with electronics to the point where you aren't paying attention, I'm smashing your phone/computer/whatever. That's the first offense. Second offense...pick the toe you least mind getting smashed.

We keep a low powered taser that the GM uses on anyone caught doing non-game stuff. Not bad enough to burn, but definitely something you want to avoid. Part of the rules up front is that if you want to play, you accept that you may get tased if we catch you on eBay during combat...


Cartigan wrote:

What? How is what he is doing distracting from anyone else's fun unless he isn't keeping up with his part in the game? I've played with people 120% engaged in the game and ruining my fun because they kept holding it up from any sort of progress whatsoever.

I can spend the entire game playing a game on my computer and still keep up with what everyone other single person has done this game session, most of what is going on, and what has happened the majority of the entire game history.

If the player could keep up with the game and fiddle with electronics at the same time I wouldn't mind as much. But unfortunately, he can't, and several times a session he pops up having to ask what is going on and where the group is and who they are talking to or what they are fighting. Then all of the other players sigh heavily and roll their eyes and someone explains it him. There is another player in the group who is texting through 90% of games, but he always knows what is going on and still pays attention. Worst we get from him is a slow down on his turn in combat because he is finishing typing out a message.

Contributor

Moved thread.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As a player, I've got to agree with Cartigan.I'd ratehr have another player take the time to send a couple text messages than stop everything to make a call.

In my group it works great when my DM and his wife need to communicate about the baby from different parts of the house. I've also found it handy when I need to send a note to the GM or another player that I don't want anybody else knowing about.

Until it stops the flow of the game (and I find out of character BSing does this much more so) I have no problem with it.


I've never seen it happen, but I imagine I'd think it was rude.

However, I have to admit that I've played games using virtual tabletop software while puttering around with other things at the same time. So that probably makes me a hypocrite. :-)


Matthew Winn wrote:
We keep a low powered taser that the GM uses on anyone caught doing non-game stuff. Not bad enough to burn, but definitely something you want to avoid. Part of the rules up front is that if you want to play, you accept that you may get tased if we catch you on eBay during combat...

But how I am supposed to sell the dead fighter's armor then?


Ringtail wrote:
Cartigan wrote:

What? How is what he is doing distracting from anyone else's fun unless he isn't keeping up with his part in the game? I've played with people 120% engaged in the game and ruining my fun because they kept holding it up from any sort of progress whatsoever.

I can spend the entire game playing a game on my computer and still keep up with what everyone other single person has done this game session, most of what is going on, and what has happened the majority of the entire game history.

If the player could keep up with the game and fiddle with electronics at the same time I wouldn't mind as much. But unfortunately, he can't, and several times a session he pops up having to ask what is going on and where the group is and who they are talking to or what they are fighting. Then all of the other players sigh heavily and roll their eyes and someone explains it him. There is another player in the group who is texting through 90% of games, but he always knows what is going on and still pays attention. Worst we get from him is a slow down on his turn in combat because he is finishing typing out a message.

By texting do you mean once an hour or conversational texting? The former is no big deal (heck I do that) The latter is not cool, especially if they can't keep up.


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Liz Courts wrote:
Moved thread.

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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Texting has been a real problem at our table with some of the younger players. So much so that we eventually let a campaign die because we couldn't keep enough people focused. People today think they have to be constantly involved in multiple conversations, but in reality, they're communicating with no one.

If you are a person that is texting or surfing at the gaming table and you think you have it under control, think again. Even if you are keeping up (and you probably aren't), you're setting a bad precedence for others. Focus on the game and we'll ALL have more fun.


surfbored wrote:


If you are a person that is texting or surfing at the gaming table and you think you have it under control, think again. Even if you are keeping up (and you probably aren't), you're setting a bad precedence for others.

You people seem overly obsessed with how something I am doing which can possibly only distract me is inexplicably distracting others. Maybe it's the rest of the table that can't mind their own business and keep their heads in the game if one person owns a phone that really ought to be your concern rather than the one person with a phone.


At my table, I've had players text me with the same sort of private messages that would otherwise be passed across the table, and I've done the same in return. It actually helped the game.

What is annoying to me is players with all sorts of loud and obnoxious ringtones/songs playing out of their phone every few minutes. Put the damn thing on vibrate (or silent if you're going to set it on the table).

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
surfbored wrote:

Texting has been a real problem at our table with some of the younger players. So much so that we eventually let a campaign die because we couldn't keep enough people focused. People today think they have to be constantly involved in multiple conversations, but in reality, they're communicating with no one.

If you are a person that is texting or surfing at the gaming table and you think you have it under control, think again. Even if you are keeping up (and you probably aren't), you're setting a bad precedence for others. Focus on the game and we'll ALL have more fun.

So what I do at my table affects what happens at your table?

I need to find a more profitable way to utilize this worm-hole...


My problem with texting is when you cannot get the players attention. If I have to delay while the person texts it just does not make the game fun anymore.

I can think of one exception if someone is texting to get a ride home because they do not drive might be acceptable as the game is ending. Texting family because they forgot their dice bag and would like it dropped off might also be okay but keep it short. I can't really think of many more exceptions.

slowing each turn down makes the game less fun.


doctor_wu wrote:

My problem with texting is when you cannot get the players attention. If I have to delay while the person texts it just does not make the game fun anymore.

I can think of one exception if someone is texting to get a ride home because they do not drive might be acceptable as the game is ending. Texting family because they forgot their dice bag and would like it dropped off might also be okay but keep it short. I can't really think of many more exceptions.

slowing each turn down makes the game less fun.

Then let's complain about slowing the game down instead of texting.


Cartigan wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:

My problem with texting is when you cannot get the players attention. If I have to delay while the person texts it just does not make the game fun anymore.

I can think of one exception if someone is texting to get a ride home because they do not drive might be acceptable as the game is ending. Texting family because they forgot their dice bag and would like it dropped off might also be okay but keep it short. I can't really think of many more exceptions.

slowing each turn down makes the game less fun.

Then let's complain about slowing the game down instead of texting.

But texting often slows down the game so I have a problem with texting.


doctor_wu wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:

My problem with texting is when you cannot get the players attention. If I have to delay while the person texts it just does not make the game fun anymore.

I can think of one exception if someone is texting to get a ride home because they do not drive might be acceptable as the game is ending. Texting family because they forgot their dice bag and would like it dropped off might also be okay but keep it short. I can't really think of many more exceptions.

slowing each turn down makes the game less fun.

Then let's complain about slowing the game down instead of texting.
But texting often slows down the game so I have a problem with texting.

No, you have a problem with the game being slowed down that you are pawning off on texting.

I don't see how texting would slow down the game anyway. It's not instant communication like IM or something. It's 'turn-based' communication, for lack of a better word. When it's your turn, put the phone down, roll dice, pick it back up and go on.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

A quick text instead of a call and not being done constantly, I can overlook. Otherwise, texting, emailing, browsing the web, playing games on the computer, etc while you are supposed to be playing the tabletop RPG? I'd say it's rude behavior.

The Exchange

I have no problems with it, especially when it allows for a gamer's spouse to be happy enough to let said gamer to keep gaming with us. I'd rather that than having the spouse unhappy, since when the spouse is unhappy, the gamer is unhappy and it just goes trickling down to the rest of the group... if the gamer can game with us at all. If it's incessant texting in which the person fails to keep up with what's going on, better to have the game take five while the person goes and talk on the phone with the significant other.

The game is a hobby and should be a fun environment, so I'd rather have it remain so then gaming in such a serious evironment since it's supposed to be an escape from everyday work. Everyone is an adult (well in my group it is) and with that, and everyone should act accordingly and also to not act like a parent/boss to each other.

Thinking back to the old days before cell phones, there would instead be a telephone call in which the host of the game site would then have to answer and then hand it off to the gamer. Sure, one could maybe instead let the answering machine pick it up, but if the call was ignored...

edit: I do agree though that it's a lot less annoying if the cell phones are put on vibrate or something instead for the texts. One thing I do sometimes is turning off my phone with periodic breaks to check for messages and such.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

For family stuff where one lets the other know about something, I'm not too worried about it. It's just one message and maybe a response. Conversations = kind of rude.

It can't be that important if it's a text: "I'm off to bed, let the cat in when you get home. There's beer in the fridge again"

I mean, if there was a problem with the baby, my wife wouldn't text me - she'd phone.

And absolutely - in the pocket, on vibrate. No ringtones during the game.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Perhaps it’s a generational thing.

I remember now this is 10+years ago, when I was going to an art college in New York City and one of our professors was a commercial photographer. During class his cell phone would ring, he would stop his lecture, and say “oh I have to take this” and he would talk for five minutes with a client. Now while I do understand the need to be available to your clients, I have to admit I was irritated. I felt at that point in time, while he was teaching that class that I was taking, I was his client. Anyways he only lasted one semester.

Ringtail…well I have a hammer…and I do like your suggestion.

Mathew Winn, I also find your suggestion of a low powered Taser to be hilarious.

Necromancer, your suggestion seems to be a simple but excellent one. I could easily ask my players to put their phone on another table in the same room. This way they can communicate if they need to, but in order to do so, they have to cross the room and remove themselves from the game.

So the general consensus I am getting is that a quick send and respond on some family issue no problem…. an ongoing conversation rude…if someone is playing a computer game at the same time, he should be forcibly introduced to the verb defenestration…. and his computer/ smart phone / electronic device should follow him out the window.

Thanks for your thoughts please keep them coming…the hammers the Tasers,
the pocket EMP burst devices….

I would also like to hear from people who think there is no problem with playing a computer game, or texting while playing Pathfinder. I am curious to find out why they don't think their behavior is rude.

Thank you


ElyasRavenwood wrote:


I remember now this is 10+years ago, when I was going to an art college in New York City and one of our professors was a commercial photographer. During class his cell phone would ring, he would stop his lecture, and say “oh I have to take this” and he would talk for five minutes with a client. Now while I do understand the need to be available to your clients, I have to admit I was irritated. I felt at that point in time, while he was teaching that class that I was taking, I was his client. Anyways he only lasted one semester.

I had a professor who did something similar. The difference was that he'd interrupt class for phone calls from his wife...my tuition dollars hard at work. I still love the guy to death, but man is he whipped.

As for texting at the game table, I tend to ignore it so long as it's not distracting the player from interacting or listening to information I'm conveying, so long as they have their phone set for silent and they aren't annoying me with the constant noises that signal an incoming text.


I used to have a problem with it, but as my campaigns go back and forth from group-focused activity to individual-focused activity I find that it helps to be able to send and receive messages on the qt. And my players have sizable and new families and so texting helps to get quick messages out to loved ones with a minimum of muss and fuss. As for the rudeness factor, it depends on the situation- I find it more rude as a player to be forced to listen/watch another character's adventures in another part of town than the one the rest of the party is in than to find out someone else at the table has been texting, and as a DM I find that other players at the table being able to handle some kind of business when I am working other people to be something of a relief. Then again, if I'm talking directly to someone or something has come up with the group that requires everyone's attention and everyone is texting or playing some game, then that is rude.


I don't own a cell, so I can't text my DMs. I just scribble a note on a post-it and stick it over the screen of the cellphone on my way to the kitchen.


Oh how did we ever survive without the joys of cell phones and texting.

Oh wait, much better as I recall. =D

I'd throw someone out for conversational texting, laptops, pda, any of that. An emergency, I have a phone. It works, honest! Just like it has since the first operators in the area went into service.

Amusing anecdote, but my good friend has recently been forced to start firing people who even bring a cell phone in the DOOR of work with them because invariably, no matter how nice or lenient he is, he'll catch them 'conversationally texting' someone. The final straw was when he saw a cashier tell a customer to hang on while she texted something -- a text to her friend asking her what she was up to right then. This is in the middle of an order at lunchtime!


Banned at the home table, on the grounds that it is both rude and distracting.

The way I describe most table problems to new players is to use sports metaphors. Playing the game is like signing up for a sports group; it can be great fun, but you are also making a commitment. You don't no call, no show on a day when your team plays, because not showing up might very well mean that your team forfits and loses. You don't get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of a play (i.e. it's your turn). And you don't play on the computer or send text messages, when you should be cheering your teammates on and keeping an eye out for any competitive advantage you might bring to your team.

If you can't meet the commitments required, that's ok, the team won't hate you or begrudge the fact that you are doing something else...so long as you don't sign up for the team. Once you sign your name on the dotted line though, other people are counting on you; you'd better deliver.


If you can text and pay attention I won't say anything, otherwise I will ask you to put the phone down.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The group I GM for does engage in side activities, such as gaming or web surfing and I am OK with that. I don't think it's a reflection of me as a GM (at least I hope not). They are always engaged in the game and I never have to repeat myself or wait for them to figure out what they are going to do on their turn because they haven't prepared. I try to keep combat moving quickly, but with 6 players (at level 10) it can take awhile before it comes back to each player's turn.

When I am describing a scene or they are out of combat and engaged as a group, they stop their activities and pay attention.

If I did have a player who could not multitask, and was holding up the others I would ask that player to concentrate on the game only.


Cartigan wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:

My problem with texting is when you cannot get the players attention. If I have to delay while the person texts it just does not make the game fun anymore.

I can think of one exception if someone is texting to get a ride home because they do not drive might be acceptable as the game is ending. Texting family because they forgot their dice bag and would like it dropped off might also be okay but keep it short. I can't really think of many more exceptions.

slowing each turn down makes the game less fun.

Then let's complain about slowing the game down instead of texting.
But texting often slows down the game so I have a problem with texting.

No, you have a problem with the game being slowed down that you are pawning off on texting.

I don't see how texting would slow down the game anyway. It's not instant communication like IM or something. It's 'turn-based' communication, for lack of a better word. When it's your turn, put the phone down, roll dice, pick it back up and go on.

Except the player I am talking about does not put the phone down.

Hell it sucks my parents made me get a cell phone.

Shadow Lodge

ElyasRavenwood wrote:

How do you feel, If you are the Gm, and you are running a game, and during one of your descriptions, you see one of your players texting at the gaming table?

How about if you are a player, and you see another player texting at the table?

Is it rude to do this?

it would piss me off if it wasnt game related, but i use text messages as a note pass system while i dm. you want to do something in game that the other players dont get to know, text me. very useful system, "opposed to the pass this to the dm" old school style, where everyone knows you're doing something sneaky.


Personally I feel sitting down at the gaming table represents a commitment and desire to interact with the other players at the game. For example, many of our group commit to traveling a good distance to game because they desire to role play and interact socially. If texting or IMing occurs to the point where a lack of commitment is felt by the others players then I will ask that player to reconsider their desire to be a part of the group. I feel if they spend most of their gaming time texting another person then perhaps they should be spending their time with that person rather than the folks at the gaming table.


This past weekend I was texting my ex-girlfriend quite a bit for the first 45 minutes or so. Then I was done and fully into the game till I started falling asleep 5 hours in. Am I a distraction? I'm certain some people would think so. Luckily those people aren't in my group which has been the same core 6 people for years.

Sometimes you can't help but have a session where you aren't completely into the action for a little while. But, I could imagine how somebody constantly texting would be an issue. But then it makes me wonder who the complainers are and how would they like it if someone gave them crap if they got some texts for once. If it is genuinely disruptive to the group then deal with it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We take a break every hour or so for smokes, food and just a general unwind. I generally expect other then emergencies any non-game activity (aside from using the restroom) happens then. I dont like it when people take calls or text during the game. It is disruptive because I dont care who you are, you cant text AND pay attention to the game at the same time, so you aren't as engaged in the game.


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Don't get me wrong. Half my players have wives and kids, and sometimes the wives call to ask for something (like grab some milk when on your way home, that kind of stuff). I have absolutely NOTHING against that.

It's not even a question of slowing down the game... If, when we're playing, I see someone constantly texting or taking ordinary cell calls, then that tells me that you'd rather be somewhere else doing something else, than being here playing with us. It just kills the mood.

Texting and/or talking on the cell phone while your doing stuff with people (be it playing RPGs or dinning at a restaurant) is rude and impolite. If you can't see that, well, you're rude and impolite.

Ultradan


Cartigan wrote:

No, you have a problem with the game being slowed down that you are pawning off on texting.

I don't see how texting would slow down the game anyway. It's not instant communication like IM or something. It's 'turn-based' communication, for lack of a better word. When it's your turn, put the phone down, roll dice, pick it back up and go on.

Heh. Something tells me you text a lot at the game table Cartigan. Feeling somewhat put upon are we? Had some conflicts over texting have we? Too bad. When the majority of people at the table don't like it you're in the wrong. Change your behaviour or find another group.


PsychoticWarrior wrote:
Cartigan wrote:

No, you have a problem with the game being slowed down that you are pawning off on texting.

I don't see how texting would slow down the game anyway. It's not instant communication like IM or something. It's 'turn-based' communication, for lack of a better word. When it's your turn, put the phone down, roll dice, pick it back up and go on.

Heh. Something tells me you text a lot at the game table Cartigan. Feeling somewhat put upon are we? Had some conflicts over texting have we? Too bad. When the majority of people at the table don't like it you're in the wrong. Change your behaviour or find another group.

I don't text at all in the game - I have no one TO text or get texts from. I am taking a general stance against absurd accusations.

And I don't give a crap if they don't like it. If THEY are distracted by MY texting, then the problem is THEIRS. If the game isn't interesting enough or they can't focus enough for them to stay out of MY business, then the problem is NOT on my end.

I played games (Torchlight, Dungeons of Dredmore, Defense Grid) in between my turns on my Monday game because a half hour would occur between them, during combat - that was with 5 players and the GM.

I am usually surfing the internet during my other games, but a quarter to half of that is rules cross-referencing for other players and myself.


I am guessing the ages of the people on this board. I bet I am not far off.

Like it or not folks, texting/device use is here to stay. It is not the younger players that will need to change. It is us (I am 41).

If we want to keep a player base we will adapt to them, not vice-versa. Ask anyone trying to market products to younger consumers.

Heck even as "old" as I am I run a few PF apps on my droid phone when I am not running HeroLab on my tablet.

One time I even had my netbook, tablet and phone all going at one game. That was a strange situation since I had to keep three things up at once and my books were with another player in the room at the time. But usually I have one device for sure, likely two.

Yes, GMs have had to pull me out of the devices once or twice, because I was looking something up about my character or even for someone else's (something that happens more days than not due to players not having all the books) -- a spell description or what have you. If had been doing so in a book, it would have taken longer so the "distraction" would still have been there.

If GMs complain about my use of devices, I will find other GMs. It is not like I am disrupting the game any more than anyone needing a reference. Quite the opposite. Most times through d2pfsrd I can find information faster than those delving into books or asking what book something appears in.

For gamers that travel, devices will become the norm rather than the exception. It is easier to carry around a tablet and a phone than a bag full of books.

Don't like devices at the table? Fine, ban them. Then watch as younger players stop playing altogether in favor of pastimes where they can use their gadgets.

This isn't school or work. It is a game. As far as texting goes, that text or three keeps me from needing to answer the phone during the game most times. I suppose if you would rather have phone interruptions, so be it.

My devices are silent, with the exception of a deliberate sound effect for game purposes. I agree with the demand that devices should be silent. But trying to legislate how a player divides his or her attention? Good luck with that.

Before phones, distracted players were daydreaming or asking where the Mt. Dew was, not texting. They were still distracted.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
duhtroll wrote:

I am guessing the ages of the people on this board. I bet I am not far off.

Like it or not folks, texting/device use is here to stay. It is not the younger players that will need to change. It is us (I am 41).

I have no problem with using devices. I have no problem with using said devices to look up game stuff. I have no trouble with a little non-game table talk (we all do it) and sending an occasional text. But I reject the idea that we have to adapt to someone not paying attention to us because they think they're better at multitasking than they really are (which most studies are showing). If any adapting is necessary, it's the so-called multitasker who needs to adjust to reasonable social expectations and common courtesy.


Depends on how often and how much they're doing it, and for what reason.

If it's something important they just thought about and that needs to be done as soon as possible, I have no problem with it. If it's only the occasional message, I have no problem with it.

If the guy is not participating in the game any more, instead having a prolonged, intensive chat session with someone else, I usually issue a warning, followed by cruel and unusual punishment, depending on who the person is chatting with, but usual involving confiscation of the phone followed by me writing the person in question (there the exact nature of the punishment changes - if it's the boss, an admission that "I" regularly shoot up at work and pee in the boss's favourite coffee mug will do the trick. If it's the girlfriend, an admission that "I" am actually gay and hooked up with her father behind her back is not considered over the top ;-))

Luckily, the people I play with are either friends or at least people that aren't big enough jerks to waste other people's time like that, so I never even have to threaten these absolutely reasonable and not at all draconian measures! :D

Shadow Lodge

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Cartigan wrote:
I don't text at all in the game - I have no one TO text or get texts from.

My lack of suprise is palpable.

Like most of us here, I'd say a text or two during the course of a session is ok, but when it becomes evident that someone's attention is more on ____ than on the game being played, then you might well ask, why bother pretending?

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It doesn't happen often, and the one time it was getting disruptive, I wish I had asked my friend more firmly to stop. But I can also think of it as that ONE time it was problematic, so obviously and fortunately, it's not a problem I have had to deal with often.

Some of the folks I play with are IS techs who are "on call" for various issues. I don't want to set up a blanket rule that they can't text or email because I think there are legitimate reasons for it--just like there are legitimate reasons to take a phone call, even though that can also be disruptive and inappropriate.

I think what it comes down to is, like all similar issues--don't be a disrespectful jerk, and expect your fellow players to be respectful and courteous. If someone can't handle that, they need a talking to, and if they still can't handle it, they need to leave. Someone who has a good sense of courtesy knows the difference between "good text" (emergency at work, family problem) and "bad text" (sending pictures of last night's party to each other while you're supposed to be rolling dice).

Another, somewhat related issue is--if there is someone who is repeatedly texting or doing some other disruptive or non-engaging behavior--is why are they doing that if they are there to game? Many years ago, when I was a much less experienced GM, I was struggling to run a very difficult group of six people (large group with very different and sometimes conflicting play styles).

One of the players started to put his earphones in and turn on his iPod--he did this several times--mid session. Said player was blind, so his putting on his iPod meant he was completely sensorily blocking himself off from the game. He had to be physically shaken (by his wife) to rejoin the game to participate. After one such session, I asked him, "Are you bored?"

He admitted he WAS bored at times--the large party had a habit of splitting constantly and refused to stop doing this, so I constantly was having to run multiple scenes at once, where players would not have a lot to do, and I was really struggling to keep up the pacing--and he was also frustrated by some of the players that he wasn't getting along with. I pointed out to him that both the physical sight of him lying back and tuning out the world made it look like he was ignoring ME, running the game, and it made it that much harder to bring him into the game and make him feel involved. I promised I would work on the pacing; we also talked about the player issues and worked on getting the issue resolved. I also shifted the adventure so that there was much less incentive to split the party, so everyone stuck together and it was much easier to give everyone something to do. And he worked much harder to engage (I think he also switched characters) and never brought his iPod to the game again.

So sometimes having a chat with a problem player can really help bring to light a deeper problem than one person's disruptive behavior. And then that underlying problem can be fixed. Now, in that scenario, the disruptive player was a friend with whom we both felt comfortable being frank with each other. I can see other situations where it wouldn't end as well, but I'd say it's definitely worth trying.


You're using an extreme example. Extreme examples don't show anything other than that player is a jerk. Take away their phone and I will put money down that they will find another way to be a jerk. The device is incidental to the distracted player, as I said earlier.

Multitasking is a misnomer. The brain still only does one active task at a time and it can only put certain things on autopilot.

And as far as the age difference and perception of common courtesy goes, I'm just going to say once again that phones aren't going anywhere. Kids today communicate more than we did at their age, and it isn't all crap as we would like to think it is. They simply see socializing differently than we do.

Trying to force them into our mold isn't going to work. Call it a lack of courtesy if you like, but I have seen just as many players in their 30s-60s being just as distracting and discourteous as anyone with a cell phone.

At least the kids are quieter.

Bill Dunn wrote:


I have no problem with using devices. I have no problem with using said devices to look up game stuff. I have no trouble with a little non-game table talk (we all do it) and sending an occasional text. But I reject the idea that we have to adapt to someone not paying attention to us because they think they're better at multitasking than they really are (which most studies are showing). If any adapting is necessary, it's the so-called multitasker who needs to adjust to reasonable social expectations and common courtesy.

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