Are you even really getting less spotlight time? Think about it for a moment – there’s still only one GM, either way. He can only shine the spotlight for 60 minutes each hour. And even when the PCs are dialoging, the spotlight is switching back and forth between players. The total number of minutes is the same when playing “split.” In party play, you feel a tad less engaged when your character is not in a scene, because you know you won’t be able to be called upon to do anything. But everyone has experienced in party play where they’ve been in the room, but really not involved in the action going on, right? So is that possibility that you might be called on really all that much less engaging than just watching?
I like having characters who feel comfortable with doing their own thing — this is the kind of play supported in a lot of the game I’ve played (Amber) and play (anything current).
What’s great about this discussion is that is dissects the reasons behind player/gm reluctance to split the group up — where it comes from, why it continues — and shows how to make those boogiemen go away.