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From the RPGPundit's Blog: The Lost Generation

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RPGPundit:
The other day I hit upon a revelation that sincerely shocked the crap out of me: I have been gaming for as long as some of my players have been alive. In some cases longer.  This came as a shock to me, as I'd never thought of myself as a grognard; mine was the generation of gamers of the mid to late eighties, the ones who were the New Generation.

We were those who were inheriting the gaming earth from the old guard of the grognards, and would create a bold new tomorrow.
 
We produced masterpieces of RPGs in our days, the great second era of RPGs in fact, and ours was the peak of the gaming hobby. There were more gamers actively playing, and the industry was bigger than it had ever been, and as it turns out bigger than it would ever be again.
 
But the center could not hold, things fell apart. Starting with TSR's moral decadence into Lorrain Williams-land, where the she-harpy set the model for corporate mismanagement of gaming companies by people who despised gamers.  After she had cheated Gary Gygax out of company control, and given him the boot, TSR released 2nd Edition; which set the tone for second editions made for reasons other than to improve the game.  The only real motive for 2nd edition was Williams' own spite, and the end result was a catastrophic drop in the number of people drawn to gaming.
 
But all this was just the catalyst for what was to come.  Williams' subversion of TSR created an environment where TSR had lost its natural position as industry leader. Into this vacuum stepped White Wolf. The 1990s were to be gaming's age of darkness, in more ways than one.
 
I have hope for this new generation of gamers, few as they are, that are getting into gaming in this foul year of our lord 2005.  A couple of the gamers in my groups here in Uruguay have under 2 years of gaming experience, and they show so much promise.  Even if South America is really a different beast altogether (and it is), on my last visit to North America I got to witness my younger brother's game. He's ten years younger than I, and his group are all relative newbies. They're good. They'll do fine, if only we were getting more of them, if only the gaming companies could get their heads out of their asses and realize that making new gamers should be priority one.
 
But this is after 15 years of utter disaster in the gaming world. And that generation of gamers, the ones "born" into the hobby from the early to mid nineties, are a lost generation.  Lost in the sense of those who we did not manage to bring into the hobby, those gamers who never were, who should be roleplaying now and are not; and Lost in the sense of those who do game, only to have been subverted by the pseudointellectuals.
 
This is the "white wolf generation", coincidentally the same generation my friend Hunter S. Thompson, in another context, called "the Generation of Swine".  But this is just as good a term to use for the roleplaying hobby as it is for everything else the 90s generation represents.
 
Not that the kids were all bad kids, far from it, just that they were brought into gaming in a time when people had been hoodwinked into thinking RPGs were "Storytelling"; were meant to be a thing of sophistication, and one had to take them awfully seriously. In terms of gaming style, this was the age of story-based gaming, of metaplots, of the dreaded in-game fiction. It was a time of pretentiousness, which bred a closed, cliqueish mentality among gamers.  They not only didn't care that people were dropping out in droves from the gaming hobby; they WANTED that. They wanted exclusivity, so it didn't matter to them that kids were turning away from RPGs.  RPGs weren't supposed to be for "kids" anyways in their twisted world, never mind that most gamers started as young teens; that many of the Generation of Swine themselves started as young teens, brought into the game by the people of my generation or the grognards, now the Generation of Swine wanted RPGs to be "mature".  So selfishly, they shut themselves in, and those of us who refused to quit gaming with them.
 
The mentality of pseudo-intellectual elitism is one that inevitably leads to the formation of incestuous sub-cultures. Pseudo-intellectual gamers cringe when they hear that RPGs are enjoyed by "millions". They hate D&D simply for being the most popular. The most extreme among them even hate Vampire because its too "mainstream", and choose to hang out in intellectual garbage-dumps like the Forge, spewing nonsense theories about gaming philosophy, and producing nothing of value.
 
The Generation of Swine are not to blame really, except in their complacency.  Its only some of them who are pseudo-intellectuals, but the problem is that many of the rest are enablers.  They allowed a small group of pseudo-intellectual artistes, mostly brought into the hobby only because of White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade, to hijack the entire industry.  Many of those of my generation have their share of the blame too, for choosing to quit gaming, rather than soldier on and call for a restoration of sanity.
 
This mentality brought us to the brink of disaster... had Peter Adkinson and Ryan Dancey not come in and restored sanity, gaming as a commercial industry may have ceased to exist.  They did the humane thing; they took the spoiled brat's toys away and re-established order.  Wizards has taken up the reins of industry leader, and gaming is slowly on the mend.
 
But many, many gamers are still infested with the mentality of the Generation of Swine, in particular those who are active online. This continues to be a problem; there are those who still despise D20 for taking control of the asylum back from the lunatics; there are others who would try to make D20 more like the old and utterly failed model of story-based gaming.

More on this later

Zalmoxis:
Having started roleplaying with AD&D 2e, and in 1991 to boot, I really didn't see the 1990's as an "age of darkness." While it might not have been as great as the 1980's or 1970's game-wise, to me it was just fine... and it turned me into a lifelong gamer.

See, I think it's inaccurate to equate the entire decade of the 1990's with the types of gaming associated with White Wolf and Vampire. I mean, as muddled as D&D might have been in the 1990's, it was still basically D&D. Most folks still played at a table in their jeans and t-shirts, a handful of dice, and slice of pizza in front of them (with a glass of Mountain Dew on the side). You could find the same scene in 1987, 1982 or 1978... only the system was a bit different and there were more materials available.

RPGPundit:

--- Quote from: Zalmoxis ---Having started roleplaying with AD&D 2e, and in 1991 to boot, I really didn't see the 1990's as an "age of darkness." While it might not have been as great as the 1980's or 1970's game-wise, to me it was just fine... and it turned me into a lifelong gamer.

See, I think it's inaccurate to equate the entire decade of the 1990's with the types of gaming associated with White Wolf and Vampire. I mean, as muddled as D&D might have been in the 1990's, it was still basically D&D. Most folks still played at a table in their jeans and t-shirts, a handful of dice, and slice of pizza in front of them (with a glass of Mountain Dew on the side). You could find the same scene in 1987, 1982 or 1978... only the system was a bit different and there were more materials available.
--- End quote ---


I'm not saying that there weren't TONS of individual groups that were still very much focused on traditional gaming, even the majority; I'm talking more about what happened to the industry and to the hobby as a whole, the forces at play that led to many people giving up gaming, young people not taking it up, and many other gaming groups willingly casting themselves out into the wilderness of "sticking with our good old game" and no longer being active consumers in the industry or participants in the rest of the hobby.  There are still tons of these "lost colonies" about, and almost all of them "fell away" from active participation in the hobby/industry in the 90s.

RPGPundit

Zalmoxis:

--- Quote from: RPGPundit ---I'm not saying that there weren't TONS of individual groups that were still very much focused on traditional gaming, even the majority; I'm talking more about what happened to the industry and to the hobby as a whole, the forces at play that led to many people giving up gaming, young people not taking it up, and many other gaming groups willingly casting themselves out into the wilderness of "sticking with our good old game" and no longer being active consumers in the industry or participants in the rest of the hobby.  There are still tons of these "lost colonies" about, and almost all of them "fell away" from active participation in the hobby/industry in the 90s.

RPGPundit
--- End quote ---


OK, now I get what you are saying. I don't have much experience or firsthand knowledge of that, but I have no reason to doubt you either. I do agree that it seemed like many more people are coming into the hobby today than in the 1990's.

Hastur T. Fannon:
I dunno mate.  White Wolf brought me back into gaming and I still have fond memories of the Vampire, Mage and Werewolf games of my twenties.  I wouldn't want to do it again, but I wouldn't want to stay up all night smoking dope and listening to Gong either...

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