RPGaDay: “Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to roll?”
I’m happy to use whatever tools are required by the game or the medium. That said, I think physical objects are important.
In part this is because I spend most of my days on some kind of computer, and so the last thing I usually want to do during my limited gaming hours is log more screen time.
But I’ve also done some reading lately about the importance of handwriting and physical affordances in product design. Learning to write — particularly cursive — has a profound impact on a child’s development, and data we process with our hands affects us differently than data manipulated on screen.
I think that all of the traditional objects we use at the game table are important: dice, cards, paper, pencils and pens, minis, maps, printed rulebooks, etc. To me, manipulating those objects as a part of play enhances the experience; it adds a tactile aspect to our relationship with the shared imagined space that I think is missed when screen-based tools are used.
This is one reason why I’m still not nuts about using laptops and tablets at the game table. Even leaving aside the issue of constant distraction, I think they may distance us from each other, making it that much harder to join in the social acts of creation that happen when we play RPGs. But holding dice, turning pages, moving figures on a map — these physical actions get more of our neurons firing.
Not to mention the power of wonderful rituals like: handing a helping die to another player (Burning Wheel), reaching for token inside a bowl or bag (The Clay That Woke), or accepting a bead or chip offered by the GM (Fate). These have a meaning beyond their in-game function; they connect us to other people at the table.
So, yeah, gimme dice. And cards. And nice pens. And minis. And glass beads. And…
(It’s that time of the year again. #RPGaDay2016 #RPGaDay )