|R.I.P. Steve Z|
Way back in the ancient times of the 1990s I was deeply involved in the small press comics and zine scene. By the early 2000s the internet had came along and killed that scene almost utterly. Yes, I know people continued to publish and people continue to publish today. But the scene I knew in the 90s is long dead, killed by the internet, rising costs of mailing, and ready availability of cheap alternative publishing methods. Hell, we photocopied shit because it was cheap and we didn't have print-on-demand.
Anyhoo... this is analogous to the G+ gaming scene and the OSR. To me, anyway.
G+ was where it was at. Games, communities, conversations, news, everything. In the 2010s if you weren't on G+ you were not keeping up with the pulse of the OSR and indie games movement. It's a god damn fact. Everyone was there, even if they didn't want to be. And it was fantastic.
That time lasted about 8 years or so, then Google stuck a fork in it. Now it's dead and the OSR and indie scene splintered as a direct result. It's fucking true. Don't argue with me. Yeah, some of you might have been existing on the fringes, ignoring G+, and nothing much has changed for you. Goody gumdrops. You are very special.
So anyway, G+ died and took much of the OSR's mystique with it. Of course it wasn't just the death of
G+ that gutted the motherfucker. You spend enough time with a group of disparate people connected tenuously by a common interest in a hobby and you're going to develop rivalries, controversies, and enemies. Peoples' true colors come out over time and they are judged for it. Bad shit comes to light, battle lines are drawn, factions formed, actions taken, communities fractured.
|Blood in the Controversy|
It is inevitable. So I'm not really arguing that the death of G+ was what killed the mystique, it was just the final blow to an already bloodied combatant.
When I started messing around in the OSR sandbox around 2012 or so there were a few tentpole circles that I remember. Lamentations, Tenkar, DCC, Dragonsfoot, Story Games, Podcasters... I'm probably missing some. These are just the tentpoles I remember the most. There were smaller ones too, such as BFRPG's community.
Fast forward to 2020 and you still have remnants of these same groups plus new ones that have grown
in the interim. They are more rabid and polarized now. Some groups have drawn hard lines in the concrete and do not mix with other groups on any level. Lamentations is certainly in a hardcore stance at the moment in response to various controversies. Story Games has morphed a lot and is perhaps more diffused. I have no idea if Dragonsfoot is still breathing nor do I know if Tenkar's corner of the OSR world is still alive. DCC seems to be trucking along much the same, though I haven't heard of any big Kickstarters in a while so maybe it's losing steam? You also have some other smaller groups/circles, such as the Hydra Collective that have amassed some oeuvre since 2014 or so. You've got the Troika! community. There's a pretty robust collection of RPG circles on Twitter, though that's where you'll find the most intense battle lines. The OSR Anchor podcasting scene came on fast and hard and I think is still going. Of course there are the Outer Circles of the movement where we sometimes send the unwanted, and I generally ignore most of that shit because I've got enough on my plate, thank you very much.
|This got me started, honestly.|
|A very tasty jam|
Nostalgia for D&D or Traveler or MERP is good, generally. It's fine. It's wonderful.
At this this point I have logged many more hours playing Labyrinth Lord than I ever did with all versions of D&D combined. Hell, I would say I've played more hours of DCC RPG than I ever played of D&D. For me, 2012-2018 was a golden age of gaming. So many wonderful games and books, so many good times, so many new friends.
That era is over. But as with most good things, something new emerges. We're in a new time. I'm still enjoying myself in gaming. I'm still publishing books, which is the great love affair of my life. I have positive vibes for the future, despite some of the negative energy that has pervaded the scenes in recent years.