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Friday, June 24, 2011

Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire

Well, it has been far too long, my friends.  Work and life has managed to keep me away from my blog, but things have finally managed  to settle down in my world.  I've been catching up though, and boy has there been a lot to catch up on, especially within the OSR. 

I couldn't help but be drawn into the controversy surrounding Greg Christopher's post on the so-called "social contract" within the gaming community, and how somehow the LotFP: Grindhouse edition violated this supposed contract with its disturbing art depictions.  Not to beat a dead horse, because I know everyone in the OSR blogging world (I dare use the term "community") has had something to say on the matter, but I find myself leaning towards the position of ADD Grognard on the matter, which is to say, I think the main contention against Greg's argument has been not that of his opinion, but the fact that he took it upon himself to somehow represent the "community" or "network" or whatever you want to call it, of RPG producers and gamers.

Greg's main point has been that the artwork in Grindhouse goes too far, and doesn't meet the criteria for mainstream markets.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Raggi's intent has ever been to appeal to a mainstream market with his work.  Let's be honest here, the gaming community itself is small and shrinking in number as it is, and this OSR group is but a small niche within a niche.  LotFP is not something you'll probably ever see on the shelf at Barnes and Nobles alongside DnD 4e or Pathfinder, and I don't think Raggi particularly cares for his work to end up there.  Sure he wants to make money for his efforts.  Who wouldn't considering the work he has put into the system?  That said, I don't think he is particularly concerned with how it might stand up against any WotC products, or any industry standards their parent toy company may impose.

Is the artwork in the Grindhouse edition "too far?"  Well, it's certainly not something I'd ever purchase, but there are people to whom this stuff does appeal.  I don't believe Raggi has violated any social contract, because the social contract within the OSR does not exist.  Somehow, in various blog articles on his own blog and others, Greg has either failed to recognize this argument that he doesn't represent the "community" or he has simply chosen to ignore the fact.  And that is not to say that I dislike Greg.  I find his blog enjoyable to read, and to his own personal opinion on Grindhouse, I agree, in terms that it is not something I would particularly like or purchase.

I think the entire debate stirred up much more controversy than it should have really, and sort of proved why, at times, I have found it tedious to interact within this so-called "community" that is the OSR, because there always seems to be some sort of bickering.  I suppose this is because the OSR is mainly composed of various people, with varying morals and ideals united in one hobby (old school RPGs).  Still yet, the arguing can become tiresome to say the least, and while it may generate a few more pageviews on average than the regular blog entry, I think the sort of negative attention these articles draw can have detrimental effects overall.  Unless of course you're James Raggi, who probably saw his sales of the Grindhouse edition triple over the past two weeks.

Needless to say, that is my take on the matter, for better or worse.  I'm glad to be back in the blogging world and look forward to getting back into the swing of posting regularly.