My girlfriend recently got herself a tablet to play around with. One of her primary uses of this tablet is scrolling through Pinterest boards and “pinning” things to it. I’ve been watching over her shoulder and becoming more interested in what Pinterest had to offer. I had heard about it before, but it never really caught my attention until I saw someone using it. It wasn’t long (about 23 minutes) until I had started exploring how to use it for gaming.
If you’ve read through even a handful of my past articles, you know that I enjoy using pictures and ancillary resources to make things stand out and be remembered about my games. While they aren’t necessary to running the actual game, and they aren’t where the enjoyment of the game comes from, I feel that reference materials can help keep players engaged. My initial forays into Pinterest showed me how much I could be making use of this resource.
Planning A Game With A Board
One of the first ideas that came into my head was that you could use Pinterest boards to organize ideas for games and give them a basic structure. You could treat this as a public thing, putting all the elements you want your players to remember or discover into a board or you could use private boards to keep all of your elements close at hand, re-pinning them to a more public board for your players to see.
Pinterest is primarily an image “remembering service”, allowing you to pin things into boards to remember them later and find them again easily. It does not do well with text, but you can add a short description – enough for a 3-3-3 plot synopsis if it is short. Pinterest, however, doesn’t keep formatting in the descriptions, so you won’t get all your line breaks. Pinterest is great for anything connected to images though. You can pin pictures of NPCs with short descriptions and names, you can pin floor plans and maps, you can pin reference pictures that get the feel of what you are trying to describe, or you can pin any link to any media, so long as there is an image on the page to grab.
Finding Pictures For Inspiration
Another really great thing I can see using Pinterest for is getting inspiration for games. You can do searches of other people’s pins and re-pin them to your own boards, allowing you to find lots of nifty reference pictures or inspiring pieces of art. I’ve been using it to find some inspirations or examples of art, DIY crafting projects, paper-craft examples, etc. The Pinterest community is pretty huge and every day people pin new stuff to remember it or share it out later.
Just Remembering Things For Later
Just remembering things for later is a great use of Pinterest as well. Find a module you’d like to run at some point? You can pin it into a board entitled “Modules I’d Like to Run” and put a brief note there. Then you can go back through that board the next time you are looking for what game to run next.
Pros and Cons
There are a lot of really great things about using Pinterest with your games, but there are some things definitely worth remembering.
- Pinterest is a great way to pin things for inspiration later, but that art still belongs to someone. Be mindful of what you are pinning and provide attribution.
- Pinterest helps provide attribution in some ways, if you pin something from an original source or the link was in someone else’s pin, then it gets saved on yours. You can always go back and see who drew that awesome art or where that idea came from.
- Most of your pins can be seen by the public, so if you feel like something you are pinning might be contentious or skate the line of infringing on an artist’s rights, put it in a private board or try to find something that might be better. Since this is for you and your friends personal use, you probably won’t run afoul of anyone suing you for pinning their art, but ALWAYS be as respectful as you can.
- Pinterest can be a bit disorganized. It pins stuff in chronological order and you can’t reorganize easily, so expect less of a straight outline and more of a jumbled mess.
- The jumbled nature of Pinterest is perfect for being looser and more improvisational. The pins act as road maps and base images to go off of, but they don’t tie you in as much.
An RPG Module Planned This Way
As I was writing this article, I decided to go through and put my method to the test. I popped open my copy of Eureka to a random page and found a plot by Scott Martin that I liked. I recast it in a modern day setting and set about grabbing elements for my game. It was really easy to plan out the basic ideas and then go searching for images that fit or supported the plot idea. By the time I was done 15 minutes later, I had a board that was full of images, maps, and inspiration for a one-shot session. It was a big help and I feel like I could go back to this board a month or two from now and be able to pick up the thread pretty easily.
So, what do you think of using Pinterest to organize reference pictures or plot pieces for your game? Would you find it a helpful tool, or do notes scribbled in notebooks serve your needs? What other tools do you use to get inspiration or organize campaign ideas?