A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nostalgia and Gaming

Lately with the utter abortion that is D&D 4th edition, there has been a lot of outcry against those of us who prefer older editions of D&D, and like all edition wars, just against anyone DARING to not rebuy everything they already own because its a NEW EDITION and somehow magically better than what you were already having fun with.

We folks who like the older games are considered to be dinosaurs, or rose tinted nostalgia freaks who are convincing themselves the old game is better and refusing to let go of the past.

This is retarded, and if you think the above statement is true, YOU are retarded. (And you also probably think Fox News is fair and balanced.)

A thing I have thought of that should be obvious is we are not yet in a world where we own nothing and its all EULAs, virtual bits and bytes on an iPhone/Kindle/ect yet.

And RPGs especially are a print product. Print can survive for a very long time if you treat it right. I have been rereading some old Ninja High School comics I read in high school and they still look great some 18 years later. The 3d issue still worked sublimely.

We have the option of playing any damned RPG we own or buy off of ebay.

I don't need Mekton Zeta with its massive worksheet of mech design. I have lovely light and streamlined Mekton 2 with its Ben Dunn cover, and Waltrip Brothers interior art. I like it better than Zeta, so why bother?

I never got to run Paranoia 2nd back in the day and still haven't really had enough people and the right group for Paranoia. Why would I drop MORE money for the NEW edition when I won't get to run that one either and I ALREADY liked what I had?

If something works, why flippin replace it?

Some people drive old cars. Why? They like the looks. They like the power of the machine. They like that they can maintain it on their own without needing a certified mechanic's computer diagnostic station. (There are tales of PREGNANT women totally repairing the old VW Bugs including pulling out the entire engine block with a couple of tools and a small winch.)

In some cases we discover the older stuff later and realize how much BETTER it was before it was mucked about in the quest for profit or megadetail being added that few people wanted. (See Starfleet Battles and Advanced Squad Leader.)

Heck, I discovered classic rock in the early 90s as the pop radio I was mostly listening to just became nothing but butt. R&B, lame love songs, and Rap sucked ass to me for the most part. And this station I had heard on the bus to school was playing some really good music. Zeppelin, the Doors, the Who, Pink Floyd. It wasn't nostalgia. I hadn't heard most of these songs. My mom only had Country on at home, and I didn't hear much music at friend's houses either.

I discovered greatness LATER. It was awesome stuff I was deprived of, much of which came out before I was even born.

Old school doesn't always mean nostalgia. Sometimes they got it right out of the gate, and later "evolution" merely made the game an overcomplicated, unplayable mess.

To be sure there are some newer games that are vastly superior to their originals. Tunnels & Trolls 7.5 grabbed me in a way 5.0 totally failed to. Warhammer 40K 5th edition is without a doubt better than the cheesefest 2nd edition, and is an excellent refinement of the good ideas from 3rd and 4th. (Though I note here that almost nobody I have played 40K with in the last 18 months ever played 2nd edition. The massive change between 2 and 3 caused most of the old guard to leave. 3-5 all have the same essential rules with tweaks and fixes and the crowd is mostly the same, with some folks leaving and coming back, as opposed to the 2nd ed crowd that left and never came back. Given the cheesy style of play the 2nd edders had, they are NOT missed.) Federation Commander blows Starfleet Battles out of the water.

That's the great part about print. It stays with us, so WE get to choose which edition we get to play, regardless of what some game company wants.

Being a gamer is knowing YOU AND YOUR GAME CIRCLE have the total control over not only which edition to play, but what rules to discard or modify, what miniatures to use, what game universe to play in, what canon to disregard.

If you just want some totally structured game environment, go play a videogame.

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