Friday, December 12, 2008

Electronic rule books OF THE FUTURE!

I'm proud of my substantial collection of game rule books. But they do take up lots of space. And they can hurt my back when I haul a portion of them to and from game sessions. All of us know that sooner or later we'll be using those PADDs from out of Star Trek. Some of you might not know that the future is now!

Never mind's Kindle device. Although it is swell for reading novels, the screen is too small for use as a technical manual. If we want to consult tables and charts from a game rule book, we need to be able to see it clearly without a magnifying glass. I'm not knocking the Kindle. It's a good device. And it looks like it's selling well.

What would really be useful is a device similar to the Kindle that has a large screen and that you can load up with your own PDF files. I think the Plastic Logic Reader is what we gamers have been waiting for.

Just look at it! The device itself is the size of an 8.5"x11" pad of paper. The screen is about the same size as the content of a magazine page. And it's actually thinner than most hardbound rule books. Imagine this thing holding all of your core rule books and splat books from all editions of all of your games.

Well, to be honest, the Reader won't be able to hold that much information. And it's in black and white. But this is only the first model. It's only a matter of time before memory capacity is dramatically increased and the screen is replaced with a color one.

I think that this sort of device will change how pencil-and-paper role-playing games will be played. Not only can you keep copies of your game rules handy, you can keep character sheets, treasure lists, campaign journals, and so on. I imagine that this device could be used in tandem with a laptop computer, but not replace it. The Reader is useful for referencing documents. Not for running programs or entering data records. I've used a laptop as reader, but it's a little cumbersome. I'd rather read from something as light as a magazine and as easy to handle.

This reader is small, lightweight, and serves the specific purpose of reading documents. And it can make that stack of heavy rule books go away.


Maestro said...

ooo .... that looks awesome. I would totally consider getting one of those, but I would definitely be keen on the colour screen. Half the pull of rulebooks for me is the cool artwork.

njharman said...

I'm using an ipod touch to read butt loads of classics. Howard, Dunsey, Lovecraft, Hodges, etc.

Screen is small, but it is first device out of many tried that I actually use for reading books. small enough it is always on me, lots of storage, superlative interface.

I don't think the formating, structure, or usage patterns of rules books will work as well on the small screen. But I can't find a decent PDF reader to put it to the test.

Something that big would be nice at the gaming table, but I don't see the advantage over a laptop.

Norman Harman said...

Might be interested in this.

PDF software company Foxit's eSlick offers E Ink's low-power electronic-paper display and sells for $100 less than an Amazon Kindle.