I should footnote this post and point out that it is purely hyperbole and for the sake of humor. Except the part about neo-classical games; I still don't know what hell that is supposed to be other than some sort of bourgeois intellectualism about RPGs
Damn! I wish I was bourgeois. Frankly, I’m not even measuring up to proletariat these days!
But seriously, I’m also getting hits from folks entering the phrase “neo-classical gaming” into search engines. As one of the proponents of the term, I suppose I ought to promote it and explain it every now and then.
The term was coined by Stuart Robertson (or, at least, that’s where I saw it first). But my favorite explanation comes from Rob Conley of Bat in the Attic:
To me the Old School Renaissance is not about playing a particular set of rules in a particular way, the dungeon crawl. It about going back to the roots of our hobby and see what we could do differently. What avenues were not explored because of the commercial and personal interests of the game designers of the time.
We’re not going to play those games today the way we did then. I wouldn’t want to even if I could. After earning a college degree in history and exploring a wider range of literature, I’ve got all sorts of new and neat ideas to toss into the mix that I didn’t have before. It’s not so much the old games the old way, but the old games a new way. It’s about taking those games, seeing what made them work, as well as casting a cold, critical eye on what didn’t work, and repurposing them for what we want out of RPGs today.
It’s also very much an exercise in social archeology, primarily based on James Maliszewski’s Grognardia. While he may be more willing than most to assume that “D&D is always right,” his eagerness to understand why things were done that way at the birth of the hobby gives us all insights into how games are made, how they are played, and what the assumptions were that created the very first RPGs.
Beyond that, it becomes a difference with too many distinctions, ranging from my own “Silver Age” attempts at building a living, breathing world to Jeff Rients Retro Stupid play to JB’s writing a Companion book to the Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert sets. The unifying concept is only an attempt to retrieve what worked best from the early days of the hobby, and bring it into the sort of gaming we want to do today.
Art by Frederic Edwin Church.