What distractions do you tolerate at the gaming table?
When I was young and still playing in my parent’s basement (no, it was not last year! I was still a teenager, honest!), I had a GM that insisted he could run a game with the TV on in the background. Needless to say, every time we played like this, he’d get engrossed with what was on the screen and mentally check out in the middle of a game.
I’ve also been a party to games where players would be creating characters for other campaigns or flipping through books when the spotlight was not on them. The excuse is usually “it’s not my turn, and this keeps me from hearing what my character shouldn’t know about,” but it sometimes sends a different message to the GM and the rest of the group.
Recently, I’ve heard of groups that ban cell phones at the table. While this is a no-no for me as an adult gamer (I’m sorry, but my wife and child come before my hobby), I have actually seen people take a call and spend several minutes on the phone for the most frivolous of reasons.
Speaking of adult gaming, I’ve also been a party to games where young children are running all over the room or playing video games, watching TV, or playing with toys in the gaming area.
So today’s Hot Button is this: What distractions do you tolerate at the gaming table? Have distractions ever disrupted play enough that you quit, the group dissolved, or other major changes were made? Have tolerated distractions actually proven helpful in certain situations?