Saturday, June 8, 2019

Hate for the OSR?

Over the last year or so I've been somewhat perplexed by the hate being sent online in the direction of OSR writers and game designers.

It seems to me that a few isolated instances of bad behavior by a few bad actors has been used to try to throw shade over the entire thousand or so people who have been involved in OSR fandom and creativity from the beginning.

I don't believe for a moment that the motivation at the core of the anti-OSR movement is based in some altruistic attempt to create a safe haven from the mean, bad wrong, exclusionism of old white men and their dungeons and dragons hobby.  The anti-OSR movement is about identity politics.  Namely it is about labeling people as insiders versus outsiders, good people versus bad people, with the goal in mind of ripping the hobby out of the hands of the people who were there all the way back at the beginning so that some younger, more "enlightened" group, namely the handful of actors at the center of the anti-OSR movement can become the money makers and gatekeepers of that segment of the hobby.

When you step back and watch the anti-OSR crowd play out in their own forums they are more about social dynamics and who is "in" and who is "out" in certain social circles than in anything regarding the creation of cool RPG games or campaigns based on the original rules of dungeons and dragons.  In fact very little of anything that is being produced, if anything at all, has to do with the rules from basic dungeons and dragons or 1st edition D&D - which was what the OSR movement was about in the first place.

I think that one of the things that sticks in the craw of the anti-OSR leadership is the fact that most of them cannot share a direct personal experience where they were growing up in 1976 to 1982 when RPG's were in their infancy because they weren't even born at the time.  As someone who was there and lived through the infancy of roleplaying games and early RPG clubs, I can say from direct personal experience, that we were one of the most inclusive and safest havens for people from different racial, cultural and sexual backgrounds of any social group in high school or college at that time.

Our circle of gamer friends included men, women, people who were black, hispanic and asian and several friends who were out of the closet gay or lesbian (to those of us in the game club, where they could be themselves) who were still in the closet elsewhere in their lives because of the general intolerance of the times.

The D&D kids were very welcoming.  We were the punk rock kids.  We were the metal kids. We were the goth kids.  We were the art and theatre and the band kids.  We were the math and computer nerds.  We were, together, all of us, the social outsiders of our age and we stuck together and forged bonds of friendship which have lasted for more than thirty years.

I would ask anyone in the leadership of the anti-OSR movement making spurious claims about how it was all a bunch of mean old white guys from the beginning one question.  Were you even alive and old enough to be playing in an active dungeons and dragons group or club back in 1980?  If not, what are you basing your comments upon other than a bunch of made up garbage about events happening in a time and a place when you weren't even born?

It is with some relief that I can say that I've seen the following of the anti-OSR movement slowly dwindle over the last few months.  Part of this comes from them eating themselves alive in hateful back and forths about who is more self righteous and woke.

The OSR was always about a fandom for the original, simple roleplaying games from the period of the late 1970's through the 1980's.  It was always about writing alternate rules, new dungeons and adventures and material for those out of print rules sets.  Period.

The OSR was never about excluding anybody from any walk of life from contributions of their own ideas and materials.

With this one caveat.  As with any writing or creative endeavor, it IS possible that any writer or artist may find their work not well received because it is poorly written or poorly executed or just poorly received by the audience.  While the OSR is very inclusive, if your bag is writing Furry sex roleplaying material, your work is going to probably only be of interest to a very small subset of the OSR community.  Why?  Maybe because its just not fitting into the core hobby interest of that group - which is 1970's and 80's vintage roleplaying games and not Furry fandom or sex roleplaying games.  Now there is a pretty huge furry fandom culture out there where that particular kind of RPG might find a wider audience.  Which is cool and awesome and have at it.  But don't walk into the Star Trek fan club with your game about Star Wars and get all offended when none of the hard core Star Trek kids have any interest in your Star Wars stuff.  In the same way if you want to hang out with the OSR kids then at least bring games and adventures written for those 1970's to 1980's era games with you to the club meeting.  Otherwise your exclusion has zero, zippo to do with your race or sexuality and everything to do with you bringing completely off topic material into a hobby group.  Like...bringing your passionate love of RC airplanes to the model train club.  Take your RC airplane stuff to the RC airplane club where it can be appropriately appreciated.  You won't get very far waving your RC airplane in the air screaming against social exclusionism and unfairness at the model train club...the people there who would otherwise be happy to have you join them to talk about - model trains- (go figure) will just look at you like you are completely bonkers.

So.  The OSR crowd will keep writing adventures and dungeons and zines for the hobby that they love no matter what crazy arm waving and hate spewing the anti-OSR crowd is throwing their way.  Because after all...we put up with a lot of bullshit from the jocks and the popular kids going all the way back to high school when we were the punk rockers, metal heads and goth kids in our D&D groups back in the day and we survived all that rash of BS and hate without any problem, thanks very much.

Maybe when this particular subset of the woke crowd figures out that we were woke twenty years before they were even born, they will come play D&D with us and stop throwing hate.  Like I said.  The D&D kids were always one of the most accepting groups at school, even thirty to forty years ago when it all started and there will always be an open chair for the new kid who wants to play at the long as they aren't taking a huge verbal dump on one of the other players at the table.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, the same accusations were already there ten years ago, and they had relied on the same distortions and cherry-picked "evidence". They often came from the exact same people, too. In fact, some of them were airing the same opinions on RPGNet in the early 2000s, they were just targeting D&D in general instead of old-school gamers. And if you look at what they are saying now, you will see that they still don't like the rest of D&D either.

    The good thing about a long-term perspective is that we can recognise people as the same bullshit-peddlers who were already peddling their stuff ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. We can recognise the pattern and just stop giving a hoot about the opinions of people who want our games dead and us out of the hobby. Pattern recognition is one benefit of age! :)