Monday, April 20, 2015

On Being a Gaming Hipster

I was expressing some unkind thoughts on the new Star Wars trailer when The Wife called me a 'Geek Hipster.' She was trying to illustrate the fact that all my geek interests are at least 20-30 years out of date ... 

.... so obscure as to be almost non-existent,
The Middleman
No Heroics
... or both.
Blake's 7
Wizards and Warriors
She isn't wrong, but what I was really lamenting was the lack of anything NEW in geek culture (I know I'm generalizing here, so go easy browncoats). Even the current glut of super-hero films and tv, while surprisingly good in some ways (and terrible in others), are often just re-tellings of comics that I read a kid. There is also a cold marketability in these things that I find off-putting, and this is coming from one of the generation who spent every Saturday morning for 14+ years watching six hours of toy commercials.

Then I saw my game shelf, which looks something like this,

The difference is that while I feel that mainstream pop culture has started to eat its own tail, the gaming industry is producing new games almost every week. I watch kickstarters and read reviews and am constantly amazed by what is produced. So why don't I collect them instead of older stuff? I think it comes down to three reasons.

The first one is that I don't have the time to play with group anymore. I moved away from my old group and I've been to busy to find another group. As much as I might like to, there isn't much point in hoarding Pathfinder materials unless I had someone to play with. 

The second is cost and storage. When you're younger, it seems easier to blow your paycheque on movies, and DVDs and new games. When you have a mortage and a car and bills, that seems to get harder and you begin to become a little more discriminating in what you collect. And despite some pretty massive purges, I've still got boxes of books, toys and games in the garage that I need to sort through. 

Finally, there is pure nostalgia. I'm generally not a fan of rose-coloured reflection, but I like re-reading, re-exploring old game books. There was an anything goes quality to the rpgs in the early days that lasted up until sometime in the mid to late nineties when irony and /to-the-xtremeness/ became the norm. By then, the original gamers were too old to spend Saturday nights in their parents basements or form D&D clubs at school. Besides, did you know they had this thing were you could use your computer to call other computers? It wasn't until (the corrected date of) 2000 when D&D3 was released that the hobby experienced any sort of renaissance. Only now the designers knew what they were doing; the concepts of what made an rpg had already been mapped out and people are now more conscious when they tinker, restore, stretch or ignore those established elements. While it has produced some amazing stuff, the spontaneity feels gone. 

Or maybe I'm just old.

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