Think if you have ever been in this situation: You are playing DnD with some friends and you are making a character. You really like the backstory you came up with and you want to share it with your fellow players in-game. There is a point where you get to reveal your beautifully built past and you share it; that is, you share it to the DM because they are the only one listening. Everyone else is on their phones, side chatting, or, even worse, talking over your description. It’s not their turn for their story, so they are just passing the time that doesn’t involve them. What gives?
That is an exaggerated example, but an issue that many players have internally. You made a hero, and you want that hero to be known. You are most certainly justified to want to be heard; this is a cooperative communication game that has heroic stories, one of which happens to be yours. Your voice and opinion are more important than all the books and dice that make the game.
The tricky part of all this is that everyone in the party is a hero. Everyone wants to do all these things, yet no one goes to make someone else the hero. It is a game, so our nature is to play it and enjoy it ourselves.
But riddle me this, Batman – what happens when it is not your turn to shine? What if everyone is just shopping and goofing off in town, or it is time to go to the paladin’s hometown and sightsee? Not very important stuff, and it certainly does not apply to the wizard how the paladin’s grandma is doing. It may be a cool story or added immersion, but that line of dialogue does not affect the life of the wizard or their player. This leads to the phone issue, or the side talk issue, or even the asleep at a session issue.
Now, what if I told you every part of that backstory mattered?
And this goes way further than just being a respectful person; this is about listening. Notice how whenever a DM goes on a monologue, the party perks up at the mention of the next important word; a person, a place, an item. They write it down and move on, hoping to discover that importance later. The same applies to backstories. If the grandma mentioned an item important to the wizard, they are now interested in the discussion but only to get what they want. They put a sense of false discussion to get the answer they seek (that is normally passed off as acting, but this is more psychological than that). This action is the bane of all sense of lore and immersion in a game, and could potentially break a story down to nothing.
The remedy is sincerity. You are playing with friends (hopefully) that care about your wellbeing; your character should do the same. Sure characters will bicker and quarrel over moral choices, but so do people in real life. Instead of starting an argument for attention or malice, start one that will grow your friend’s character and their ideals. Instead of learning your parties stats and numbers, learn their dreams and aspirations. A magic item is a cool gift, but a letter of sincere encouragement will go further. Instead of being the one that tells their story, be the one that listens to the others.
If this would happen everywhere, then the world would be a place none would want to be distracted from.