Ask a Gamer- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Gamer Disorder

How are your games going? For the past few years it seems my games have been riddled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or what I like to call attention deficit hyperactive gamer disorder (ADHGD). It doesn’t matter if I’m the game master (GM) or a player character (PC), everyone–including myself–at the table is easily distracted.

Often in the game, we as players or GMs digress from the game by talking about movies, TV, comics, and the latest drama in our lives. I have even seen times when games ended two hours early because the group digressed from the game. It’s an extremely rare occurrence, but it has happened. What’s going on here? What happened to the game?

Looking for a pattern, I think back to when it first started: It seemed to have changed when a few millennials joined the game group. Logically, I could blame them and make them the scapegoats, but I’d be wrong. Not just because human sacrifice is downright stupid and immoral, but because the premise and conclusion is just erroneous. You see in my group, the millennials rarely game with us old Generation Xers, lately. And the game group still has ADHGD, all except my friend Joshua who excellently stays on task (in character).

So what’s happening? Could it be a tech issue? I look around and what do I see? I see gamers often looking at their smartphones waiting for their turn as a PC. Or perhaps a text message or phone call might come in distracting the group. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask when it’s their turn, “So what’s going on?” “Ah dude, weren’t you just listening?” This definitely used to not be an issue.

Then there are the times the GM is trying to find a song on his computer or work the TV monitor and computer to show players a picture of a character or map. What often follows is Murphy’s Law, technical difficulties…How often is technology more of a disruption or distraction in your life than a convenience? Since the advent of the washer and dryer, mom has had to wash clothes a lot more often. Not really a convenience for her, but at least people looked and smelled cleaner.

Technology could definitely be a big part of the distraction. But I also think we as gamers sometimes get so busy with our lives that we have less and less time to game. So the few hours we do have at the table are not just a time for storytelling, but are also a time for social catchup. And that social catchup can be some of the most fantastic times at a game.Just last week, my friend Chris was at the table and he hadn’t been at a game for five weeks. It was great talking geek talk before and occasionally throughout the game. Those times are golden.

I know for me to stay on task writing I have to stay away from the internet. If I check my email, I tend to fall into a snowball effect of endless research and open window tabs. Thus little is finished or accomplished. Be careful, it’s a black hole out there…

Lately, in our games as a group, we’ve been using less and less technology and going back to old school gaming. Not so old school that we use college ruled binder paper for character sheets, but the computer and smartphones are less of a distraction.

So do I have any advice? Try a little less tech time in a game and a little more playtime. Unplug for a while, hang with your friends, let the dice drop as they may. And let the good times roll!





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Adam Lee

Adam Lee

Super Dad, super gamer, and all around super guy! That might not be the first words that come to people’s minds when they think of Adam Lee. However, being the hubris man he is, it’s often what he thinks of himself. Nevertheless, who is this mysterious handsome man, Adam Lee? Adam Lee is a husband, dad, archeologist, historian, writer, game designer, and avid comic book collector with degrees in history and anthropology. He has been creating campaigns, game mastering, and gaming in general for over 30 years. Much like Odin, the man brings great wisdom to the table and the Gamer Nation is proud and honored to have this sage as part of the team!