Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to prove that there’s no renewed interest in older editions of D&D and other games, but I want to share my thoughts on the perception of that phenomenon.
Recently there was some more discussion about the OSR on Twitter and on various blogs. The whole drama was started when someone discovered a quite unfortunate blurb on the Frog God Games site.
I don’t want to repeat what the whole hubbub’s about, you’ll easily find out when using Google or checking your favorite old-school blogs. But again people started to muse about the state the “OSR” is in, as if it were a single entity – which it isn’t. There are a lot of people interested in old-school gaming (whatever this may be for each of these persons) and some of them think of themselves as members of the Old-School Revivial (or Revolution) movement. But there’s no single organization uniting all these gamers. Basically everyone fends for himself.
There probably still is TARGA, which tried to be an umbrella organization for all things old-school, but it’s definitely not speaking for all old-school advocates, not even the majority. And they had a fair amount of drama on their own turf as well. Go figure…
When fans of D&D 4th Edition praise their own community for its unity they forget that a) that there is no single “OSR” community and b) the old-school movement is about a lot of different D&D editions and even other games as well, not just one. It’s much easier to be a united group if you can decide on just one game to venerate. 😉
My advice is to remember that when you deal with something old-school you’re not facing a tight-knit community but a bunch of individuals who merely like older editions of D&D. It’s not an OSR scandal or something, it’s just the opinion of individuals.
Now let’s move on, there’s nothing more to see here.
I like and appreciate some "old school" gaming; I'd never associate myself with OSR.
I think you're wrong when you say there isn't a community. There is definitely a community of old schooler's out there (whether they accept the term OSR or not). They pay attention to what each other say and communicate to each other (various forums like Dragonsfoot, and the OSR blogs are ALWAYS commenting on what so-and-so said).
I will concede that they are dysfunctional as a community, but they are a community none-the-less. It's like a bunch of adolescent siblings fighting and bickering among each other until some outsider or new face comes in and picks on someone, then they all turn, combine forces and protect each other.
The big problem I see with that community is that they each, individually (every "137" members), believe that their vision of Old School is the only vision of old school. And they preach about it in dogmatic fashion.
I see parallels to religious fanaticism in that community in the way they promote their chosen method of play. Which is why you'll never find me among their ranks.