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    What does IAW mean?

    IAW stands for “in another window.” This term is used in text-based roleplaying games (RPGs) and online gaming communities to indicate that a player is present but not currently focused on the game’s window.

    In this case, the player is not away from their keyboard (AFK); however, they are engaged in activities in another browser or application window.

    IAW thus helps communicate a player’s temporary inattention without implying they have left the game entirely.

    The concept of IAW has become more prevalent with the advent of multitasking on computers and the increasing number of distractions available online. It acknowledges that while a player may be physically present, their attention is divided between different tasks or windows.

    IAW FAQs

    How is IAW different from AFK?

    IAW is different from AFK in that the player is still at their computer but their attention may be divided. AFK indicates that the player has stepped away from their computer entirely and may not be back for some time.

    How should players indicate they are IAW?

    Players can indicate they are IAW by typing “IAW” or “in another window” in the game’s chat. They can also say “tabbed out” or “in another tab.” This lets others know they are temporarily distracted but still present at their computer.

    How does being IAW affect gameplay?

    Being IAW can temporarily slow down gameplay, especially in games that require constant attention or quick responses. Other players may need to wait for the IAW player to refocus on the game window or proceed without their immediate input.

    Can IAW affect a player’s reputation in a gaming community?

    Yes, similar to going AFK often, frequently being IAW can affect a player’s reputation, especially in communities where engagement and attentiveness are highly valued. It can be seen as a lack of commitment or interest in the game.

    What strategies can players use to minimize the impact of being IAW?

    When players find themselves IAW, they can adopt certain strategies to lessen the disruption to gameplay:

    • Notify Teammates Early: Inform your group or teammates as soon as you know you’ll be IAW. This helps set expectations and allows the team to adjust their strategies accordingly.
    • Limit IAW Time: Try to keep your IAW periods short. If you know you’re going to be divided in attention, try to resolve the other task quickly or step away from the game entirely if it will take longer.
    • Use Status Indicators: If the game has a status indicator, set yours to “Busy” or a custom status that indicates you’re temporarily distracted. This visual cue can help others understand your availability without disrupting the flow of the game.
    • Pre-plan Activities: If possible, engage in-game activities that require less immediate attention during your IAW times, such as organizing inventory, crafting, or other less time-sensitive tasks.

    These strategies can help mitigate the negative effects of being IAW, ensuring that the gameplay experience remains enjoyable for everyone involved.

    How can game masters or moderators manage players who are frequently IAW?

    Game masters (GMs) or moderators have a challenging role in maintaining the flow and engagement of the game, especially when dealing with players who are frequently IAW:

    • Set Clear Guidelines: Clearly communicate the expectations regarding player attention and participation. Establish what is considered acceptable behavior regarding being IAW during gameplay.
    • Implement a Check-In System: For games requiring high engagement, consider a system where players must confirm their presence and readiness at certain intervals. This can help identify who is actively participating.
    • Offer Breaks: Schedule regular breaks during long gaming sessions to allow players to manage other tasks without disrupting the game. This can reduce the need for players to be IAW.
    • Address Frequent Offenders: If a player is consistently IAW and impacting the game, privately discuss their behavior with them. Offer solutions or alternatives, and if necessary, enforce the game’s rules regarding inactivity or disengagement.

    By adopting these management strategies, game masters and moderators can create a more engaging and fair environment for all players, reducing the negative impacts of players being IAW.

    Myths about IAW

    One common myth about IAW is that it’s the same as being AFK. While both terms indicate a lack of immediate attention, IAW means the player is still there and can switch back to the game.

    Another misconception is that IAW players are not interested in the game. In reality, many IAW instances are due to unavoidable distractions or multitasking needs.

    IAW examples

    • During a text-based RPG session, a player might type “BRB, IAW for a moment” in the chat before switching to answer an email, indicating they are temporarily not paying attention to the game.
    • In an online strategy game, a player might be IAW while looking up game strategies or information in another window, thus not responding immediately to in-game events.
    • A player in a virtual meeting may be IAW while still listening to the discussion, preparing to switch back to the meeting window when needed.
    • In a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, a player might become IAW during the game’s downtime or while waiting for the match to start.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."