... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Boing-Boing Is on Both Sides of the Debate

I said a few days ago that I might eventually have some comments about the article on Boing Boing about the Old School Renaissance. But I guess mostly I have comments about the reaction around the Interwebs. It seems all blown out of proportion and packed with inaccuracies. The first reactions I read were from old schoolers who screamed "How dare he call the OSR 'Nerd Fundamentalism'!" Then I caught a thread made by new schoolers that said "How dare he call WotC D&D 'rules-heavy' and 'combat-oriented'!" (That thread title also claimed that the article was "100% trainwreck", then the OP went on to say that he agreed with most of the article. Apparently, a new definition of "100%".)

There's a thing that journalists do: they feel a need to present "both sides" of a story. Even when there is only one real side, like in some scientific or technology journalism. Or even when there is no story and the journalist is just basically saying "Here's something new going on that I think is interesting." It's kind of dumb to be so enslaved to ginning up controversy, but what can you do?

That's basically what's going on in this article. A guy is reporting that there's a DIY movement in the D&D fanbase that's inspired by older editions, and it's prominent enough that WotC seems to be responding to it. And he then compares this to similar trends in music and other fields: there's a quest for authenticity and more participation in our hobbies and entertainments, and a growing anti-consumption sentiment.

That's his point. That's what the article is about. In passing, he mentions that there are some misanthropes who don't seem to be a part of this trend, and also mentions some critics of the OSR referring to it as a kind of fundamentalism. Note that he's not actually saying the OSR is fundamentalist, or that it is entirely or even mostly about strict adherence to some old ruleset. He only brings things things up as "the other side". He's not actually saying these things, he's just ginning up controversy, report on what some people claim. His main point is actually saying the opposite.

Now, there are a couple inaccuracies, like apparently getting The Pundit's opinion wrong (but The Pundit has already addressed this.) And I think the author has missed (or mis-characterized) one major point. He writes: "Dungeons & Dragons has become a game preferring combat to role-playing." I don't think that's what the OSR debate is about at all.

But maybe more on that another time.

1 comment:

  1. The trouble with the paragraph in question, the way it reads to me and many others it seems is that the author begins by talking about criticism of the OSR but then in the second half, and the last four sentences in particular, he seems to switch to voicing his own opinion on the subject. If this is incorrect then it's the fault of the author, not the audience. It wouldn't have hurt to chuck in a couple of extra words to make it clear whether he's commenting or opining.

    It's a shame as it turned an otherwise decent article into one memorable only for the fact that it expressed unfounded criticism and petty generalisation.