The 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?