DawnforgedCast on YouTube brought to light how easy it is for players to get distracted and pulled out of the immersive experience of a roleplaying game. And he’s absolutely right! There are so many things in the world today screaming for your attention! The DM is asking you to make a death saving throw, it’s your turn in Words With Friends, and your girlfriend is sexting you. How do you ever expect to survive in the Unholy Temple of Elemental Motherfucking Evil? I think your character is dead…
It seems like the more things we try juggling throughout the day, the worse we become at multitasking (or is that just me?). A roleplaying game is no exception. It demands for you to be fully engaged. You can’t immerse yourself if you keep messing around on your iPhone or making fart jokes (Wil Wheaton, stop encouraging them!). It’s perfectly ok to enjoy yourself at the gaming table but when you aren’t engaged in the ongoing story, you tend to pull others out of the game as well, leaving the dungeon master playing with himself–er, roleplaying, that is–wishing he hadn’t worked so hard on this adventure for people who don’t even care enough to pay attention.
It all boils down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect is earned. And the DM has earned it with the shit-ton of effort he puts into creating and managing the game for you and everyone else. Being the dungeon master is a lot of work, not just in prep, but in management, and improv, and keeping notes, and all the other silly monkey hats he wears. The least you can do is show him your appreciation through engagement in the game (and offering him cookies).
Twist your character into the plotline somehow and talk to the DM about it. Game masters love it when a player shows interest in his +5 Campaign of Epicness. I’ve said it before that you cannot win in D&D, but seriously, here’s how you win: make the DM happy and he’ll keep running the game week after week! If he feels like nobody is engaged in the adventure, he’ll cry himself to sleep for the next week and half (I’m not the only one who does that, right?). Then it all comes crashing down. No more game. Your turn to DM!
So, enough ranting.
Players: limit your distractions at the table and stay focused on the game. If you notice another player causing distractions, help your super-awesome DM out and encourage said player to get-in-the-game (DM’s love it when players do their dirty-work).
Game Masters: politely inform the players that their help is needed in order to stay engaged at all times and keep the game moving. If you have to make a rule against electronics, set an example and turn yours off first.