Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I gamed last weekend without a laptop.  This was unusual, and I think the first time I've done so since coming to college.  It started as kind of a lark, since I wanted to bring a thick notebook to scribble notes and maps and whatnot in and could not fit both the notebook, my laptop, and the ACKS Binder (a printed copy of the ACKS main rulebook) into my backpack.  It definitely caused a few slight hangups, mostly in the transmission of henchman statistics (which we usually send via electronic means), but I think I liked it.  It kept me more involved in the game, since I had no internet to distract me, and also removed any temptation to covertly communicate with my fellow players or look up errata or material from the Player's Companion (which I have not yet printed).  Overall, it left me feeling refreshed after the game rather than tired, and sans the usual post-game headache to boot.  Part of it might've just been unplugging at all really; it's fairly unusual for me to spend six consecutive waking hours completely without computer access.  I should do it more often, and gaming is as good a time as any.  As it is an escape from the real, so too might it be an escape from the machine.

I don't know if I could do it as a DM, though, especially for ACKS, where the ability to script automation tools is immensely useful for content generation.  I guess I could generate content digitally and then print it out, but that extra step is kind of annoying, and has the irritating tendency to set things in stone / ink.  Pencil is easy to edit, and digital is easy to edit, but when you start moving back and forth between them things get harder.  But on the player-side, I cannot help but conclude that the no-laptop experience is more pleasant and generally better than on a laptop.

1 comment:

Timothy Vaughan said...

I have found this to be the case, when it can be managed (more difficult if you don't know your system very well).

Over the summer, when I was keeping my character sheets in a little notebook, and my maps on graph paper, there was definitely something more visceral and engaging about the experience.

Maybe it was something about the representation of my character being something real; something physical that could be torn in half, or lost, or washed away if dropped in the rain. Hell, I remember once you made us hand over our map.

Yeah, I try to game unplugged. It's best when all the players are, really. The DM has to pay attention anyway (though I am always looking for systems that make that more fun for them).