From tabletop to desktop: How people are using video-conferencing to get face to face - InfoNews

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From tabletop to desktop: How people are using video-conferencing to get face to face

Abdulah Pouriliaee, aka Dooley, has been the dungeon master for D&D games in Kelowna for the last 10 years.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Abdulah Bouriliaee
April 07, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Over the last 10 years, Abdulah Pouriliaee, also known as Dooley, has built a Dungeons & Dragons community that connects players on a weekly basis.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, his 16 Okanagan players are sheltering in their homes, moving their strategies online for what is normally a fantasy role-playing game that includes a 20-sided die, paper, pen and imagination.

Publishers like D&D Beyond have started offering tool kits for players to be able to role-play online and as people around the Okanagan remain in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are connecting and transferring their regular out-of-home activities online.

Okanagan and Kamloops yoga instructors are offering free classes through Zoom, and the YMCA, among other gyms and fitness centres, is holding online workout classes and providing other virtual services. Friends and families are connecting to play games that would regularly require in-house sessions online and performers worldwide are offering to stream their concerts. 

READ MORE: Learning from home, through ZOOM and sometimes in class, Central Okanagan schools adapting fast

The Zoom app was downloaded 2.3 million times on March 23, according to reports from The Guardian.

“People are moving these activities online… we’re social creatures, we need that,” Dooley said. Normally he acts as dungeon master, so it's his responsibility to create the world players interact with. He doesn’t use Zoom, but connects with players using a similar service, and regularly live-streams his games to Twitch, YouTube and other platforms.

In his dungeon “we’ve quite literally gone from assembling in my studio, with a table and environment strictly designed for playing Dungeons & Dragons... to (recreating that space) on a virtual tabletop platform,” he said.

Although there have been some technical challenges, such as accommodating six or seven players at a time and finding a video conferencing app that uses multiple cameras so players can see him and the board at the same time, playing online has allowed him to connect with people that he normally wouldn’t have. It also allows him to make maps in the digital realm, which he enjoys doing, he said.

“The biggest challenge is player interaction because it’s largely different than having people around at a table. It’s one thing to be able to lean over to someone else… it’s starkly different when you’re boxed on a screen,” Dooley said.

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He decided to continue online “for the love of the game... and it just came down to being socially responsible and that meant figuring it out online.”

Dooley doesn’t know how long the online format will last, as there’s an uptick of people going online, but they may be itching back to get back to their social circles they used to have once the pandemic is over.

“Will it stay this way after the fact? Only time will tell,” he said.

Have you tried video-conferencing activities you'd normally do in a group? Let us know in the comments below how you're staying connected while in isolation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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