Another "What Do You Think of This?" - Cellphone Use While Gaming

We had a Games Day yesterday - played board games from noon until midnight. One of the players was on his cellphone almost the whole time - not talking, but texting, googling, playing other games, etc. I found it annoying - while you’re playing a game, you should be paying attention to the game, what other people are doing, what’s happening, not just messing with your phone.

I suspect, however, that I might be in the minority on this one - everyone uses their devices for everything all the time now. Also, there can be times when it takes some time for it to be your turn again. On the other hand, if you’re messing with your phone, you have to take some time to come up to speed on the game at hand again each time it is your turn.

So, what do you guys think? Cellphones off at the gaming table?

I agree with you completely and think smart phones have made people socially retarded.

I noticed a couple sitting next to us at dinner on Valentine’s night. They didn’t really talk to each other at all and he kept taking his phone out to do whatever for minutes at a time. I would have walked away if I were her.

Hate it, Hate it, Hate it. I have a good friend who does this and it drives me nuts. He’s a bit ADHD anyway and the phone makes it ten times worse. Fortunately/unfortunately I only see/play games with him once or twice a year, so I let it go.

Seriously, that was rude as hell. I can beat that, though–someone at my bachelorette party texted throughout. It was a small, lunch-type event and she didn’t silence her phone, so it was beyond obvious.

Put the damned phone down! Same as “put the damned book down” which my mom used to say when I tried to read at family dinners. Pay attention to the people you are with or else go off by yourself.

Add me to the pile-on. Board games are a social situation, and you ought to be giving your attention to the group.

I play RPGs, and I keep my character and notes on a tablet; I also reference the rules throughout the session, looking things up for other players to keep the game going fast. There’s definitely downtime for me, but even though I’ve got a browser open right in front of me, it’d be rude for me to open up a tab unrelated to the game, IMO.

That’s it - I think you’ve put your finger on it. Every time I glanced over there, he was doing something with his cellphone, not chatting or joking around or doing any of the other social things we do when we play board games. If I want to have no social interaction, I can stay home and play games online.

Agreed with the rest. I was at a role-playing-gaming session (heh! Old D&Der here!) and one guy, whenever he was not “on scene” would retreat to the internet. Sorry, but that’s just darn rude.

Coming fresh from a games convention, where I was fortunate enough to have been in no games with Attention Deficit Disorder Boy this year, I’m definitely in the “put the phone away” camp.

You’re there to play a game. Do that. If the game, or the people, aren’t interesting enough to hold your attention, excuse yourself and find something better to do.

Exceptions granted for people dealing with kids and the like, but carrying on lengthy text conversations is just rude.

And silence your dang phones, people.

Adding this observation - at the convention (Con of the North here in MN), there were a number of people who seemed to be quite content to sit in the public areas and read. Not sure if they were between games, or mostly there to support spouses, or what, but it seemed odd that you’d pay to come to a convention, pay for a hotel room, and then do something you could do easily at home by yourself.

My SIL would do that at GenCon. She’s not a gamer, but many of her dearest friends are, and GenCon was a place to get together with folks from all over the world once a year. If there weren’t a party going on or someone she could be crafting with, she’d sit somewhere and read or otherwise entertain herself until folks got out of their games.

Is phone boy a lot younger than you are?

It would have bothered me a lot, but I can’t ever imagine any of my 50ish year old friends being so dimwitted or rude.

We’re all in our forties - he’s the youngest of us at 40.

I play a lot of games where there can be quite a bit of completely blank downtime between turns (even after you’ve planned your next move) AND have a regular who can take an inordinately long time to decide on even simple moves.

But my situation is unique, and using the phone can still be annoying to other players if it causes you to not realize it’s your turn.

Just adding to the “rude” pile. I can see quickly checking a text or email between turns but not sitting on the thing all night or playing video games during your board game.

Rude. Tabletop gaming is a social event, you are there to interact with the other people, not just to play the game.

I wouldn’t call it completely blank. The following moves are appropriate during that completely blank time:

“So how’s work going?”

“I was meaning to ask, did your son ever get his green belt?”

“Your t-shirt rocks, by the way.”

“Dude, I just finished this book, I think you’d love it…”

“I’m gonna grab a beer, anyone else want one?”

The time between turns is totally appropriate to use for small talk, for catching up with friends, for other socializing.

I know not all groups work this way, but I do think this is the default expectation, and it’s important to be clear on the rules of the group if you’re going to vary from the default.

We have a GM who doesn’t really care if a character or two gets totally sidelined during a scene, sometimes leading to very long periods of time when your input isn’t needed. Stuff like party splitting and one part getting into hour+ combat. Surfing the net at times like that isn’t rude, IMO. One of my worst RPG memories is coming to a gaming session, party splitting to search for something and most of the others getting into combat with my character being away. I wasn’t needed for the next four hours and we play in a space that has no other means of entertainment available. A smartphone would’ve been great.

On the other hand, board games usually have short turns that also require you to pay attention to what others are doing. Fiddling with your phone all the time drags the tempo of the game down and can be pretty rude.

What is the relation to the phone person? Is this a close friend or a friend of a friend?

Even with close people 12 hours of board games might drag a bit.

Did you say anything over the 12 hours? Was this a close group of friends where the lack of participation hurt the games? Was there any downtime from the downtime? 12 hours of almost anything might turn something fun into something that resembles a chore. I’m not saying this is the case but it may be a factor.

And nobody said anything about the phone use over 12 hours?

And what board games were you playing for 12 hours? Just curious.

I’d have to agree that overusing the phone while playing a board game is rude. Pulling it out occasionally to check messages is fine, but repeatedly ignoring the group is not.

That said, I’d agree twelve straight hours playing a board game would be awfully tough to pay attention to; I’d find that intolerably hard to take, and I’d be curious as to how much of this cell phone usage happened in the second half of the session.