I started gaming using Google+ Hangouts a year ago. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1975. My first rulebooks says they were the third printing. I played the Original Dungeons and Dragons, then first, second, and third edition. I then took a long sabbatical away from tabletop gaming. A year ago, I decided to buy the fourth edition and start playing online.
Previously, I only used pencil and paper while gaming. I have notebooks full of adventures and ideas. Previously, when running a game, I had to improvise. I have always used my own world and rarely used pre-created modules. I outlined possible quests but I never knew which direction the party would take.
Gaming using Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition on Google+ Hangout was a massive change. I could comfortably sit at my computer. I have two monitors. One monitor is dedicated to the hangout the other is my Dungeon Master only screen. I can screen share and show the party maps, notes, and other information.
One weakness of Google+ Hangouts is screen sharing. I used ReadyTalk, GoToMeeting, Lync, and Skype for meetings with people around the world. None make screen sharing particularly easy. The recent changes to Google+ Hangouts make it much harder to turn screen sharing off. Occasionally the group gets to see some things I had not intended to share. I have to learn be more diligent when using screen sharing.
One significant difference between tabletop gaming and gaming online is the commitment of the players. With weekly tabletop gaming sessions, players usually show up for the game. Online gaming is different. Over the past year, almost fifty people joined the game. The dropout rate is high.
When I started my online campaign, I introduced the history of the world and campaign. With the high turnover rate, I have to give a quick introduction almost every game. This takes away from my initial goal of setting a particular mood and style for the game.
The games I run have mature elements. I have a difficult time separating slaughtering intelligent creatures from other themes like sex, lies, crime, and drugs. Where do the young monsters come from? In my world, you do not get baby kobolds unless a male and female kobold mate. I rarely gamed with minors in the past. With online games, I often do not realize the player is under age. Google+ Hangouts do not allow minors to join a session set up to automatically record to YouTube.
Overall, it has been a fun year. I enjoyed the comfort of not packing up all my books and notes. Online gaming allows the luxury of providing my own refreshments. I encourage gamers to try Google+ Hangouts for gaming.