There's been a lot of talk lately, partly spawned by the Fuck the OSR conversation at Knights & Knaves, sparked itself by This Blogspot, and partly because, as I will explain, the current cycle is dying.
MY OSR was Grognards, and punks. It was like the Ramones rather than the Sex Pistols, who frankly, were just a fashion show. It had ODD74, Dragonsfoot, Knights & Knaves, James Mal, Rients, the TAO, Carcosa already, my own AD&D game tables, this OSR sucks website( remember it?). Then came the new kids on the block, mostly Zak and a bunch of friends and followers. Kids who hated the Grognards, and didn't identify with them, kids who wanted to do new things, and that's a good thing. They had no experience of it all, and that's a good thing because youthful recklessness leads to success says the Yi-King. Everything was blogs back then, like this one. And very little was Facebook, or G+.
There's a band called Cinema Strange, which did Deathrock. It was a small band, a bunch of randoms doing average stuff. So what did they do? They released an album, and there was written «The Leading Deathrock Band» on the album, and people believed it. Like the Sex Pistols being punk, you know. And people bought it. And they became The Leading Deathrock Band for real. That's exactly what the new kids did. «We are the OSR», the leading whatnot of the OSR, etc.
And it worked. It worked because the new kids had clout from outside, they were doing porn, Art, stuff. And there were people there. And geeks went like «Wow, a geek who fucks», or gets fucked, whatever. So clout indeed. A clout that had nothing to do with the actual quality of their design, or creativity, and everything with their clout alone. So Zak patches up sloppily his own campaign notes without even putting the effort to edit them, and here comes Vornheim. He should thank James Raggi a thousand times else this half-baked thing would have never been readable. But hey, Vornheim from «The Geek That Fucks», The Leading OSR guy. Honestly, my friends and myself had better, more interesting, funnier campaign notes in 1990, and we would have laughed at the idea of publishing them as is but everything's possible with clout, and pretend Art, and friends in juries. There are two adventures in it with barely understandable maps, tables that would been original in 1985, tidbits of rules which have been done before a hundred times and weren't the best, and okay, the die-drop mechanic, which is new, good, and interesting but really, that's all there is.
I worked in a Social Gaming company once, in France. Our games were Free to Play so it was vital that people talked about them, but also did so positively. The problem was that we had a bunch of vocal people out there who were getting abrasive, and Bad for Business. Do you know what we did? Well, simple, we hired them as consultants. We didn't give a shit about their ideas though we were all like «we love your input, yes this will be in the game, thank you, you are so awesome». And we did put some of their stuff in our games, and paid them, just to keep them quiet and say good things and say that D&D5 was Old School (seriously, people...). And it worked, and that's not a good thing because once you've said that, then you've said that everything is Old School, and that nothing matters. But hey, people are stupid thinks the Big Bad Business. Well, not all of them.
So back to Cinema Zak the Vornheim Consultant. Of course, the guy's ego inflates like a fucking zeppelin from Corfu, and he starts shitting all over the place. The place, by the way, is Google +, which is sooner or later getting down. So he starts promoting his friends who can't write, and do art like 5-years old kids and it's all getting to feel like a Contemporary Art gallery where you're supposed to be ecstatic in front of broken toilets else you're shit.
Now, the ENnies, the most significant award we had. The ENnies were depressing. It was like a corrupt government with awards that felt given to the industry majors for no reason. But it has judges. So what did the new kids do? They promoted their own judges, their flattered them, they pushed them into the positions like lobbies do. And of course, they won. The funny thing with inflated egos, especially if they're inflated by hollow winds instead of genuine, deserved success, is that they tend to explode all over the place, and to hurt themselves. This is coming to us super-fast like a train wreck. Yes, the ENnies needed to be shaken from this nigh-invisible corruption, that was good. But they were shaken with a similar corruption, and that's where it starts to hurt.
Do you see the trend?
- Everything and nothing is Old School
- The Awards are still meaningless
- The Industry bought your silence
- G+ is dying
- The egos are so inflated that they will shit on the OSR itself as a whole in no time after having used it. Trust me.
The current cycle is dying, and it's a good thing. We'll get rid of those people, and it's a good thing. Grognards and punks, unite!
In some cases, I quite like irritating people who need to be irritated. Robert Smith