Turn Off Your Phone, Get a 50% Discount

couple-textingThe other day I was posting on a board game forum about my latest game, and one of the comments evolved into a discussion of player habits at the table. One of the people in the discussion said they have a house rule that bans players from looking at their phones at the table during games.

I thought that was a neat idea, mostly because if you’re on your phone, you’re not able to plan your turn in advance, and it makes the game a worse experience for the other players who are paying attention.

However, there’s also something psychological at work here. Tonight at game night after playtesting Tuscany, we pulled out a short, quick game called Coup. It’s a game that is largely dependent on the players. If you don’t get into it–accusing, backstabbing, bluffing, etc–there isn’t much to the game at all. Player participation and excitement are really important.

So when one player started texting during the game, it kind of decreased the energy of the table. Or maybe it was just me–she did it very subtly under the table, so I may have been the only person who noticed. But it definitely had a small impact on me. I figure, if you don’t care about the game enough to put down your phone for a few minutes, why are you playing?

(To be fair to this person, I otherwise enjoyed her presence at game night and hope she returns.)

Anyway, with all of this happening, when I saw an article tonight on Springwise about a restaurant where diners get 50% off their meals if they agree to turn off their phones, I was like, YES. How awesome is that? It’s a restaurant putting the full dining experience first–not just the food, but the idea that you sit around a table as an active participant instead of texting or looking at fantasy baseball scores or reading your e-mail.

I actually think 50% is overly generous–I wager that a restaurant could get away with the same promotion for 90%. Even just calling it to people’s attention might make a difference. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Turn Off Your Phone, Get a 50% Discount”

  1. On nights that we don’t voice this rule, at some point, we wind down to mutual Candy Crushing, Street Passing, and Draw Something-ing. And then we laugh about it, the people who are most tired go home, and then the rest of us play another board game without smartphones in hand and with 3DSes closed. It works out OK at our house because we’re all pretty passionate about games.

    This, to me, is not much different from people who come to game night to get drunk. I mean, I don’t care if people have an adult beverage (there’s always hard cider in our garage, and there’s usually vodka and brandy if people need it), but don’t get drunk and sloppy. It makes the game way less fun overall and we don’t usually invite the drunkards back. I really worry about people driving home too and have put a few people on the sofa bed in the rec room so they could dry out instead of risking the drive home.

    Anyway, it seems like common courtesy. Are you here to play games, or to talk to someone else? Because I am here to PLAY GAMES. (I think it does help that we socialize while playing the Dinner game when we all first get together). 🙂

  2. I saw that in Springwise too! I agree about 50 being extreme but I think 10% off might be too little. The addicts I know would happily pay full price vs 90%. I actually find myself continually glad I held out on having a smartphone for so long because I could watch bad habits and be annoyed and now that I have one, it’s not the needy most novel thing and I know how I want to interact with it (or not) and I don’t find it hard to resist. It’s just an added bonus when I can look up directions or read your blog on the bus. 🙂

  3. First of all, Coup is SO GREAT right? Love that little game! And secondly, I completely agree, no phones!! A. It’s just rude. No email or text (unless from your spouse that your house is burning down) is more important than the people and task (game/dinner/date) in front of you. B. You’re not that important. See description in A. C. It takes away from whatever you’re doing. Like you said, if you can’t be fully present to what’s going on, it conveys the message that you don’t care to be doing said thing. Then go sit in the corner and text all you want, don’t ruin the game for everyone else. UGH! I hate it SO much.

    Not just in games, but in life in general. I’m so keenly aware that at every place I go to, grocery store, coffee shop, gas station, seriously ANYWHERE, about 85% or more of people are on their stupid phones!!! We’re no longer making eye contact with people, or smiling at strangers, let alone saying “hi”. I wish they would all blow up. For reals. End rant.

    Can’t wait to hear more about Tuscany! 😀

    • Coup is great! I would say I could play it 3 times in a row and be completely happy (and then want to play a meatier game). Well said about the phones!


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