Since we’ve just finished the holidays, we’re going to branch out from our usual version update posts to talk about proper etiquette while playing D&D with a computer or tablet. Some people don’t like to play D&D with a screen (phone, laptop, tablet, etc) and don’t like it when others at the table do so either. As a company focused on building in-person digital tools, this is one of the most important challenges we face. We aren’t out to force people to use tools they don’t want to use. We’re creating a new D&D experience, and to do that we wanted to offer a little advice to all the players out there who use digital tools.
The Game Comes First
Always remember that the reason you and your friends got together was to play D&D, not to mess with your computers. It’s important to set up your tablet, laptop, or phone ahead of time. Make sure you have enough battery, and that your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode, or at least silenced.
How to turn on Do Not Disturb:
Playing D&D is like watching a movie, you wouldn’t be making calls, or texting during a film in a theatre, so it’s not appropriate in-game either. Emergencies will happen, and of course they’re the exception, but it’s otherwise rude to everyone else (the DM included) if you’re distracted while everyone else is trying to play.
Out of sight out of mind
While playing, I’ve found it very helpful to both have Adventurer’s Codex in fullscreen and have my laptop off to the side. This helps in two main ways:
Since it’s fullscreen, you can’t see other information about your computer or other applications (mail, text messages, Twitter, etc). You can’t even see the time in fullscreen, which I find to be helpful as well. The less possibility for distraction, the better.
With my laptop slightly off to the side, I have to turn to look at it. Sitting forward in the chair forces me to look at the DM, the battlemat, and the story. Forcing yourself to go through even the slightest inconvenience to see your text messages or browse Reddit will make you much less likely to actually do it. Resist the urge to move your laptop in-front of you even during combat.
Beware of other distractions
This next part is actually advice for anyone playing D&D in-person as well.
Even if you use these tips on your tablet or laptop in-game, you can still get distracted by other devices you have with you. It’s important to silence/mute phones or smartwatches. Even seeing them light up can be immensely distracting, and detract from the game. Try to set up your sessions in a place where the phone isn’t constantly ringing, and people aren’t going to be consistently walking through. This becomes doubly important if you have a roommate(s) or other family members in the house.
In short, we all love to play D&D, and we all set aside time to do so in our extremely busy schedules. It’s our responsibility as fellow player and DMs to respect each other’s time and commitment and to have fun.