Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Sizing up the OSR state of affairs (How to OSR, Part 1)

The OSR is an odd beast. On one hand, it is a game philosophy that has spurred tremendous creativity over the past decade or so (OSRIC was first made in 2006) that anyone with similar inspirations can DIY riff on. This is the wave I've found myself riding on as well.

On the other, it is very much a community of people exchanging and commenting on each other's ideas and gaming together online. This last part, I'm probably a bit on the outside of. I am not a frequent commentator, and I don't think my thoughts generate much traction with the 'it' people of the OSR. And I don't actually game online.

So, how does one participate in the OSR movement?

Is it enough to blog? Or should one also participate in the community? An opaque exercise of tracking down the right blogs, noticing the crowd that comments across them and join those discussions. And perhaps also sign up to join some of their games online.

Google Plus was a kind of hub for the OSR. In a format that even I could find myself participating in. And that's dead now (and taken all my blog comments with it. Fuck you very much for that, Google). It's mostly moved to MeWe (and perhaps also Tenkar's Tavern) but the feel of it is just not the same. I at least am finding it hard to even remember to go there. It is a big change for the communal part of the movement and one that has spurred its fair number of identity assessments on what the OSR is and is supposed to be.

Another identity crisis has been the frigging logo. For years, everyone's been mostly happy to agree that Stuart Robertson's effort

Was a perfectly consensus-making representation of the OSR spirit. Then he went and changed the license to say that no one who published "material that is harassing or hateful towards women, LGBT+ or ethnic/religious minorities" were allowed to use the logo. This was, as far as I can tell, directed against guys like Venger Satanis and RpgPundit vocal arguments and James Raggi's somewhat sordid associations.

It was nevertheless schismatic and went far beyond the few who did actually indulge in such viewpoints as others went looking, on account of principle, for a new fully open logo. Discussions of ethic vs censorship and to what degree politics and moral stances should influence perceptions of writings followed in its wake as the OSR evaluated itself and wondered what it should stand for.

Jeff Rients hasn't blogged since he commented on Raggi's part in all this, which is probably the single greatest loss to the OSR blogosphere of the past year. Get back in there, Jeff!

In synchronicitic extension of that crisis followed a third one: The recent Exorcism of Zak Smith, in what is perhaps the most comprehensive expurgation the RPG online community has seen. Zak was in many one of the center points of the OSR community whom many others revolved around to fashion the community and is now basically no more as far as the OSR is concerned.

This too has seen OSRists question the identity of the OSR and asking where it goes from here and what it is all about. People like Questing Beast is wanting to call his thing "adventure game" instead of OSR. This is, I believe, unrelated to above mentioned identity crises, but nonetheless significant as early 2019 seems to be a time of OSR review and re-evaluation and finding new identity in its wake.

Others are taking the Exorcism as a call for renewed vigor in the community as a longstanding toxic influence is now gone. Truth be told, I never really got Zak's work. I went to his blog a few times on account of exploring the aforementioned dynamic of "track down the right blogs, notice the crowd that comments across them and join those discussions." And Zak's blog was obviously a main hub. But somehow his writings never clicked for me enough to want to read the next article and his asshole-drama history was such I didn't want to get involved with that.

To answer the original question, I'm gonna settle for "it is enough to blog". In doing so, I am hitching my wagon to the wave of people who are calling for renewed vigor in blogging to be the new IT of the OSR, since this is basically the approach I've been following all along. Everything old is new again. It seems to be actually happening too. My blog roll certainly feels more invigorated of late.

It is also the "return to the roots" movement back to blogging as the primary platform of the OSR that I believe will be the most significant change in the OSR of 2019. One I believe will be for the better.

Which is also why I wrote this post, to start things up again on that front. I suppose I should also check out those who have been making efforts to connect blogs better with the death of G+.

OSR 2019 - A year of slaying dragons and burning villages, dropping out of the group discussion circle, poloishing your soap box and taking your show on the road. I'll drink to that.

I will be following up this post with my own review of the OSR blogosphere and namechecking the people I enjoy reading and follow.