My gaming group is caught in the jaws of a dilemma at the moment. Our gaming schedule has been going to pot for some time now. Real life is getting in the way of regular games and its starting to get tiresome. That's no reflection on the group, everyone has good legitimate reasons for not being able to make games and I'm no exception. Illness, dependent dependents, work... they have all infringed upon our gaming time. Part of the problem is that we are scattered across half the country with members travelling from as far afield as Lincon and Ipswich. We rarely get the whole group together but so long as more than half of us can make it we press on with the game.
But the last few months have seen more and more cancelled games as 'real life' squeezes our spare time. I should add that this is no reflection on the current campaign, which is highly original, very engaging and seems to be enjoyed by everyone involved. It's not even a reflection of our mixed feelings towards 4E (it'd take more than a game system to stop us playing). But the fact remains we have had more cancelled games than played games so far this year. In fact its been a growing problem for many years and has spawned a number of conversations about how to tackle the problem... now a new suggestion has reared its head and I'm not sure we know how to approach it. Web Cams could, in theory, enable players to participate even if they cannot physically make the game. Aside from the technical issues involved - complex but not insurmountable with some planning & forethought - my main concern is that this would undermine the very reason we gather together in the first place. For each others company. Half the group consist of 'new' members that have joined the original core of players from my school years. But it's not just the game that holds the group together its the fact that we like each others company and we're good friends. Using web cam technology may help us continue the game but it might forever break the atmosphere of our game sessions which often involve lots of laughter and a beer or three.
Of course there are other 'meta game' issues that would need to be resolved before we went down this route, but nothing I don't think we could sort out in time.
There are various threads on forums such as ENWorld and UKRoleplayers that discuss this issue but I don't feel any of them addresses my main concerns. Technically its possible, but just because we can do something doesn't mean its a good idea.