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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Live and In Person, Friends at the Table

My wife sent me an article from the Yahoo tech blog yesterday and I wanted to comment on it in relation to roleplaying games. Here's the link. Have a decent skim or better and zip on back...

I'm going to end the suspense and post the conventional wisdom that readily leaps to mind:
All things in moderation, too much of anything can be bad for you and, last but not least, to each his own.
The first thing that also leapt to mind, just upon reading the title, is that "losing touch" is just one of the many reasons I prefer to keep my games at the table and offline. I remember the glory days of having a group of friends sharing a game at the table and there is simply nothing like it in all the world. I enjoy that feeling today too. We do live in an increasingly anonymous society though. Just driving down the road one passes a large number of strangers in the anonymous world of their own automobiles.

The thrust of the article is that folks may have trouble adjusting to in person contact after being online so much, using social media and other "quick burst" communications. I've long thought Facebook has an ironic name because there are no faces, just photos. I've also found it darkly comical that no one seems to pick up on the fact that Facebook actually has little to do with tangible friendship or actual faces in the least. (I pick on Facebook because I've had an account for over a year and barely do anything with it anymore.)
We're just driving down the road once again, oblivious to whomever passes us in the next lane. Yet my wife uses it in moderation to quite effectively keep in touch with distant family.

While the focus of the article is on "attention deficit" communication, the same notion can and is being applied to players who spend an inordinate number of hours in online games, such as World of Warcraft. I'm a former player. I'm not going
to launch into the same kind of diatribe found elsewhere about the "sins of online games," but one of the major reasons I don't enjoy online "games for mass consumption" is because acquaintanceship doesn't satisfy me. I don't like the anonymity (which can lead to the consumption of huge gobs of time, which is my number one reason for not playing anymore... that and I feel the need to be "interuptable" for my wife and kids). I want to see facial movement, hear laughter, voice inflection and a whole slue of other things that make in-person roleplay forever superior to online games of any sort, even of the virtual table top variety, even using voice chat. Yet for others such things scratch an itch.

I love technology but using any of it to such an extent that I forget the nuances of human expression, falls in the "too much being bad" for me category. I hope to always have friends playing at the table and not on my monitor.
I also don't have a neat and tidy ending to this blog nor do I have any answers about where our society is headed (which would be way beyond my scope anyway...). I do know that RPGs are where I draw my own line.

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