Most players in a campaign will be swept up in an exciting web of fantasy that the Dungeon Master will spin for their adventurers; pumping your blood before a battle, or pulling at your heartstrings with a death of a beloved NPC. The DM’s words distract you from the real world and pull you into another one. One where you can almost see the destruction of the battlefield and the chaotic choice to leap right into the thick of it all to fight the enemy. There’s nothing better, in my opinion. That’s a good type of distraction while doing an all-nighter with the gang.
Oh no! Is that a lich that just joined the fight? Did you say it’s also riding a black dragon!? BRING IT ON!
With all this going on, with the words of the DM dragging you farther into the world they have spun, one thing can ruin everything; bad distractions. A Player constantly on their phone, checking whatever, or doing anything else while everyone is in the middle of protecting said world, is exactly that.
I cannot stand this type of player, and I unfortunately used to be one. I am guilty of this, I’ll be the first to admit it. I used to check my text or on be pinterest for a second, doodling, what have you. I’ve never crocheted during a session, but I’ve seen it.
So as a result of me being distracted, I’d miss out on some vital information the DM was trying to get us to learn, which caused him to have to repeat himself on more than one occasion, slowing down the campaign and knocking everyone else out of their groove.
This was me being very rude, to not just the DM, but everyone else. Did I get yelled at? No, thankfully, (though I would have deserved it). I was talked to calmly, respectfully, and it was explained to me why my behavior was disrespectful to everyone in the group. It wasn’t just the DM either; other players were telling me their feelings, and it was very eye-opening hearing what they had to say. I didn’t see what I was doing as rude or disrespectful until it was explained to me. I thought nothing of it; how me quickly looking at my phone or doodling had really messed with the flow of the game simply didn’t cross my mind. It taught me that, when playing in a group, what you do, no matter how small you think it is, can affect everyone else's experience.
I love playing, so I made it a rule after that to put my phone away while roleplaying/gaming. Now, I did tell the DM that if my phone rang multiple times, I will check it because it could be an emergency. I have a son: I need to be able to be reached if something were to happen.
Once I put the phone down, I was able to enjoy playing a LOT more. It was more enjoyable for not only myself, but also for the other players in the group. I thanked them for that talk; they helped me grow as a player without yelling at me or treating me like a child. I was in the wrong and everyone was mad, but they were still civil when talking to me and gave me another chance. One I did not mess up.
Anyone should be given a chance to fix their mistakes. I’ve learned from my experience, and others may as well. If you see someone doing something like checking their phone, doodling, or even crocheting, find a good way to address the situation. It’s easy to be mad at someone who is being rude, but like me, they might not know it. So talking to that person in a calm but serious way would be more beneficial to everyone involved.
In this world, mainly the younger generation, we are more attached and distracted by our phones than previously before. If phones are a big problem, maybe have a rule that phones go to a certain spot and stay there until the session is finished. Or incorporate phones into the session purely for gaming purposes and nothing else. This could easily help the DM to communicate his plans to different players without everyone knowing. Prevent metagaming.
However, I’ve known a few others that never stopped going to that digital world, no matter how many times we warned them. Nor stop doing random things that distracts from the game. Then that leads to this part, which is sometimes hard to do to a friend, to anyone, and that’s not inviting them back. It’s sad, as they truly miss out on something amazing.
You came to play, to go into this world that the DM works hard to create for everyone, that the other players want to enjoy as a group; it’s an experience you should respect. DM’s put many hours planning out campaigns for you to enjoy and they deserve your attention. Your teammates want to go on this epic adventure with you, be it through swamps to kill a hag or to laugh with you in a tavern while you wait for your payment and to find out where you go next.
People play games to get distracted from the real world and be a part of something epic, you should honor that by putting away your distractions long enough to join them on those emotional roller coasters.
Written by Codie Johnson, Spellcaster and Tavern Regular.