Friday, March 27, 2009

Gaming in the 21st Century

Working on a project yesterday, I put on the podcast where a guy from Wizards of the Coast R&D Department (::shudder::) runs a game of the current edition of D&D (obviously) for the guys who bring us the PVP/Penny Arcade webcomic. Aside from the smart-assery of the players, which got a little tiresome after a while, the main thing that struck me was the "official" approach to running D&D, particularly how the DM had the players moving their miniatures around the map even outside of combat situations. It would be quite interesting if we had similar recordings from the days of the earlier editions--third, second, first, original, etc.

Yesterday I also ran across this picture on a non-gaming-related website. I have no idea who these folks are, but I found the picture fascinating. Let's analyze it, shall we?

The title of this post is "Gaming in the 21st Century" because, to me, the photo kind of encapsulates what could very well be a "mainstream" gaming session in the year 2009. The group is playing D&D fourth edition, for example--with all that entails (more on that shortly). The most immediately arresting element is, of course, the "Futurama style" head present on the table. What a wonderful age we live in--the future truly is now! It's funny; I have yet to play 4e, but if I do, it could very well be in a situation similar to this, and I would be the guy teleconferencing in via webcam and laptop.

On to the trappings of "modern" D&D. This was the second thing that jumped out at me. In addition to the classic trappings--dice, character sheets, a DM screen--we have other elements I'd usually associate with a boardgame: a tableau of reference cards, a playing board and playing pieces.

I'm not really trying to pass judgment one way or another--as I've said, I have yet to play 4e--but the picture along with the podcast (together with the fact that I've been running a more classically-styled D&D game) struck me once again that "mainstream" gaming is something vastly changed from even five or ten years ago.

As a postscript, the title of that picture is "organizedloneliness.jpeg"--a pretty hilarious term, I think.
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