I had an interesting discussion with James Maliszewski and some other folks over at the new Shadow, Sword & Spell Yahoo! Group. The discussion (in part) was over the use of GM Screens, and whether they were still largely used.
I know for many players who reject the traditional model of a powerful Game Master, the GM screen probably seem like an Iron Curtain, some vestige hearkening back to player oppression or somesuch. Certainly I think they are less prevalent in groups with an emphasis on shared narrative control and the like.
Me? I’m a pretty traditional GM, as are most of the guys who take turns running in my group. I don’t always need a GM screen, especially for lighter games, but in general I like to have one when I’m running. It helps hide my maps, my notes, communications to/from other players, as well as work as a staging area. The front side can also work as an information space for the rest of the group.
I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with choosing to use or not use a GM’s screen, but I think they’re still utilized by a majority of gaming groups. I think we sometimes get a skewed version of what the rest of the hobby is doing from being online, but I don’t know. Do you still use one? Am I, along with my Gygax-autographed Castles & Crusades screen (so the players know Gary Approves, of course) a relic?