Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dicing with Dinosaurs

Rolling Stones will reign until there is a new counter-culture. 

Why bring this up on a roleplaying blog? Because like Mick and Keith, we have become dinosaurs out of another time. The birth of our hobby was over forty years ago and the silver age was almost thirty. It is a good bet that any given rpg blog or article I read is written by someone 30 or older. And now the collapse of Google Reader is generating speculation that even the age of blogging is coming to an end.

Everything I learned about OSR I learned through blogs like Grognardia and from there discovered hundreds more. Each one generating, some on a daily basis, incredible ideas that makes any Hollywood schlockbuster and most published books feel about as original as a prime time doctor show. But the OSR, for all its imagination is just the last of the summer wine. Delicious, but ultimately doomed, not because of its creativity, but because of the format.

I do believe that group imagination gaming will live on in some form, but not in the form we love and grew up with. Yes, its sad that the days of purple Crown Royal bags bulging with dice are coming to an end, but that doesn't automatically mean that it is bad. Instead of a table top strewn with papers, dice and figures, the next generation will each have a tablet or phone. The gaming group might even be spread out across the world. Granted this already happening with things like Hangout, but what amazes me is that it isn't farther along. I personally blame this on D&D's piss poor online track record for not driving this kind of thing forward. There is no reason in the world why there is not already an app where a group of friends can be playing an almost constant game with each other, no matter where or what else they are doing.

I'm not trying to pick on tabletop rpgs. I love the hobby and do not want to see it fade away but to do that it needs to push forward, not look back. The problem is that I honestly believe that the X and Y generations have become too wrapped up in  regurgitating nostalgia to be genuinely creative. If you need examples of this I can spew them out ad nausea:  everything from the GI Joe movie coming out this weekend, to Veronica Mars kickstarters, to Ghostbusters III rumors, Battlestar remakes, Bates Motel TV shows, and/or Ready Player One and Redshirt novels. Pop culture is eating its own tail and it is only a matter of time before it reaches the head, which by my calculations will happen on exactly on the day the next Star Wars movie is released. After that, it will have disappeared so far up its own butt that there will be nothing left to feed on but its own shit.

Like the above article suggests, maybe it needs Mick and Keith and the rest of us to get out of the way. My fear is that with some notable exceptions, we've done a really bad job of cultivating a new generation of tabletop gamers ("hey kids, come into our small store and talk to the over aged, over-large men about playing games about elves"), to the point that it will probably not survive us except as a niche hobby.

In order for that not to happen, a concentrated effort needs to be put forward on our part to make sure that it survives intact long enough for the next generation to take hobby into the present century.

D&D Kids .... go there. 

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