There’s a lot of quality talk going on about the British gaming tradition; the things that influenced it, the way it developed, and the ways in which it’s different from what I shall hesitantly call the American tradition, the default setting of the Old School Roleplaying blogs.
Coopdevil covers the cultural influences very nicely; Chris does the differences; a whole bunch of Old-Schoolers explain their entry routes; and here’s an old post from the RPG Pundit which indicates something I have sneakily felt for quite some time, with ref: preoccupations with the games of one’s youth overtaking innovation with the games of today. I started following the OSR blogs because Dungeons and Dragons is something new to me and they are good sources of inspiration and thought-food; my OSR has always been about getting back to the way I used to play rather than what I used to play; this turn toward the British OSR is nostalgia for the things that I am in a position to be nostalgic about.
I am unsure how I feel about this. On the one hand, these people’s experiences are my own and I identify with those experiences on an affective level. There is a difference between British gaming heritage and American gaming heritage, too, and I feel that should be acknowledged.
On the other hand, I’m not sure that making a badge of identification out of that is the right thing to do. I am wary of any hint of that Britishness that draws lines between Us and The Uppity Colonials and makes of itself an excuse for fashionable nationalistic mudslinging of a sort for which I have no time or patience. I am warier still of flying any subcultural flag that makes smaller niches of an already small niche that has enough trouble explaining itself to newcomers without a further differentiation making a mess of things, having seen the Goth scene turn a difference of cultural values into an excuse for toxic politics and newbie-bewildering manifestoes and allegiances and then fragment still further from that and become less than the meanest ghost as a result.
The feeling I’m starting to get is that I share many of the interests of the OSR folks regarding rulings over rules, elegance over exhaustiveness and creative pilfering over buying the splatbook, but that I might be more interested in where gaming’s going than in where it’s been, and in playing New School games with a bit of common sense than in cloning Old School systems in an effort to obviate it. I may be British and love WFRP but my current players are more interested in D&D and have played little else.
Anyway, this is displacement activity that’s already eaten up a morning’s worth of time and brain-focus-power-thinking which I need for other things. While I try to stop procrastinating, you can tell me what you think. Poll on the right. Feel free to add options, comments and abuse.