Josh Buel
United States
Pearl River
NY
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Everything is perfect. The popcorn is popped and buttered, the lights are dimmed, and the movie is about to begin. The trumpets blast and the opening crawl begins, but what’s that bright square light? Oh no.. Please… NO!! Didn’t that twat see the warning to put away that wretched device? Does he not realize he is just wasting his own money and distracting us from enjoying the fullness of the galaxy on screen? How can someone do this?!

This is a classic scenario I’m sure most people are aware of. Going to a movie implies a sense of immersion and escapism. The atmosphere invites you to cut away from your normal life for 2.5 hours and enjoy the fantasy, tragedy, or comedy of others. When a device has a bright screen such as a phone, or god forbid an iPad Pro, it disrupts that escapism. When I see a movie, I want to forget the seat I’m sitting in, and immerse myself in the scene and narrative.

The thing is, I could say the same about board games. When I play a game not only do I try to engross myself in the world or theme, but I am trying to actively influence the story of the game depending on my thoughts and strategy. This immersion can be defined as the flow of the game. However, this is a challenge for most people. In a movie, the theme and narrative is fed to the watcher. In a game however the players must work at it to achieve the same immersion, creating their own narrative. Because of this, players who don’t understand or don’t value this immersion will most likely whip out the ever-present enemy of the bright white screen. “OH look at this meme!” … “Check out this video!”… “Oh is it my turn now??”(In which the answer is always a groaning YES.)

As a game night host, It is often my job to keep everyone somewhat happy, and strive for an immersive experience where possible. This ranges from picking a game to play, deciding rule disputes, or general rules of the night. Sometimes will have a no cellphone policy. Other nights I’m a bit more lax, but generally I find everyone has a better time engaging with the group and focusing on the task at hand. Other times, a random conversation will arise that distracts other gamers. That one I can’t really do much about without coming across as a rude host.

For me, this poses a few questions.

1: How can we emulate a movie atmosphere so players will all genuinely engage into the game narrative, as in a movie?

2: When is it appropriate to set up such an atmosphere? Do games always need to be treated like a movie?

I'll be back soon to share my take on these questions. In the meantime share your thoughts!
 
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David Gibbs
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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If I played board games the way I watched movies, it would only be on inter-continental flights, and I wouldn't get many (any) games played.

Also, it seems that most of the people I play board-games with do actually pay attention to the game -- I've never had "check out this meme" or "this video" happen during a game, and only rarely, "oh, is it my turn now?". (Not never have phones come out -- but it has generally been for communication, not distraction.)
 
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Josh Buel
United States
Pearl River
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Yea for me its a mixed bag. Sometimes i have a small cozy group and play lots of awesome games with little distraction. sometimes however it will be a larger group with more casual players. On casual nights i definitely need to pick a game for the group thats engaging with little down time.
 
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Olaf Slomp
Netherlands
Moerkapelle
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When there's a break in a movie I go do something else (talk to friends, pee break, get a drink, maybe check my phone). When there's a break in the game I do the same thing.
Don't want me to do other things while playing a game? Make sure there are no breaks! (I.e. no serious down time between turns where I can't do anything (not even plan ahead)).
 
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