Here’s a quick list of five gadgets that can improve your game — helping with organization, speeding things up and opening new avenues.
Let’s set aside the desktop PC and printer — those are kind of a given.
Laptop: Having a laptop available at the table gives you all sorts of options, from tracking the game on your computer to rolling dice electronically (and it can double as your GMing screen).
Thumb Drive: Flash drives are a great way to back up your gaming material, and they let you carry a copy of everything you might need at your next session. (See The GM’s Thumb Drive for more ideas.)
MP3 Player: One of my group’s GMs uses his iPod to play background music during sessions, which works very well. (The ancient TT post Music in Your Game covers this, along with suggestions for background music.)
Overhead Projector: Of the many mapping options discussed on our GMing Wiki, this is one of the sexiest — and unfortunately, one of the most expensive, too.
Digital Camera: Taking pictures of your gaming sessions is always a good idea, and there are always moments you just have to capture for posterity.
What other devices do you employ at the gaming table? And what kind of impact do they have on your prep, the game or your time behind the screen?
Laptop – check, and it is a wonderful wonderful gaming tool.
Thumbdrive – check, but I load it into the laptop
Mp3 player – got it all on the laptop, but I would use one if I didn’t have the multitasker laptop
Digital camera – never used it. We are a photophobic lot.
Overhead projector – le sigh. Do I wish. I use an S-video cable and a TV for a cheaper alternative.
I bought my first mp3 player with gaming in mind. However, now I use my laptop and it’s easier to make up playlists and have the audio player up in the background.
I also connect my laptop to the 42′ tv. We game from my living room couch after years at a kitchen table due to both comfort and function.
I’m slowly starting to include more technology into the actual gaming, not just the prep work, and I think Instant Messaging should be on this list. I use it to send a quick message to my players when I don’t want to tell the entire table. A quick note like “You hear scratching noises coming from the door to the east.” or even better are more vague notes like “Footsteps? Is someone behind you?”.
I have a 15″ flatscreen monitor that I hook up to my laptop. The monitor faces the players so I can throw things up on the screen for them.
This also enables me to show a Powerpoint presentation of an opening credits montage, set to music.
I’ve also used a dice-roller program in the past. This didn’t go over too well, since my players prefer the tactile feel of dice (and the ability to “subtly” cheat).
No question that technology improves the player experience.
If you’re following my EO recruitment, I just used Pages to create a leaflet an EO NPC is pushing around the locales of the players. This NPC will be indirectly influential in the coming session.
Props, like handouts, become so much easier to provide with technology.
I’m in general agreement with all of the aforementioned as well.
I’m still fuddy duddy enough that I’d prefer not to have laptops and overhead projectors at the table. (Can you imagine their use for any simple system, like Primetime Adventures or even Dogs in the Vineyard?) I did stalk my game group, taking pictures last Friday, so I agree with your Digital Camera idea. If I was more organized (and more aural), the MP3 idea would work well.
I have a problem with laptops: they tend to distract me from playing the game. Other than that, good ideas.
Man, do I wish I had an overhead.
(Hellibrarian) I also connect my laptop to the 42â€² tv. We game from my living room couch after years at a kitchen table due to both comfort and function.
That’s a pretty sweet setup. Do you display maps and things on the screen for your players?
I’d also like to hear a bit more about that 42′ TV setup, Hellibrarian!
For me, I use everything that Telas uses, expect I use a tiddlywiki instead of a word doc and play all my music off the laptop (connected to some sweet external Bose speakers), though I’d like to hear moer about the HTPC setup, I must admit…
Lastly, my dream is to get an overhead projector and do digital map projection, but for now, I’d settle for a extra flat screen monitor like Walt C… 😛
Overhead projector is a great idea, one of my players has one for work, i’ll get him to bring it along to our next session and see if we can rig it to the ceiling.