From a Grognard to an Old Gamer

August 14, 2010 by deadorcs

In the past couple of days, there’s been several discussions regarding the “attitude” of OSR (old school revivalists) gamers on Twitter and in various blogs.   For myself, I try to stay neutral.  Readers of my blog know what kind of game I play, so I figure there’s no sense in poking any bears.  My two cents isn’t really going to make any difference in the argument one way or another.  While I was listening to these discussions, however, something kept poking my subconscious.  This argument seemed so familiar (and not because it’s constantly floating about the cloud).  So why did this oft-stated argument keep reoccurring? Was there something about OSR gamers that just really made them hostile to a new and/or different way of doing things?

I figured out what might be part of the problem while listening to a song I’d downloaded the other day.  The song is called “From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser“, by Jethro Tull.  Written by Ian Anderson, the song is kind of a sad tune that looks at regret and nostalgia from a specific segment of society.  The lyrics are great, and I’ve reprinted them here.  Again, the song was written by Ian Anderson, these aren’t my words:

From a dead beat…to an old greaser,

here’s thinking of you.

You won’t remember…the long nights;

coffee bars; black tights and white thighs

in shop windows

where blonde assistants…fully-fashioned a world

made of dummies (with no mummies…or daddies…to reject them).

When bombs were banned every Sunday

and the Shadows…played F.B.I.

And tired young sax-players…sold their instruments of torture

sat in the station…sharing wet dreams…of Charlie Parker,

Jack Kerouac,

René Magritte…to name a few

of the heroes…who were too wise for their own good

left the young brood…to go on living…without them.

Old queers…with young faces…who remember your name,

though you’re a dead beat…with tired feet;

two ends that don’t meet.

To a dead beat…from an old greaser.

Think you must have me all wrong.

I didn’t care, friend. I wasn’t there, friend,

If it’s the price of a pint that you need, ask me again.

I’d encourage you to head to iTunes (or other online music store of your choice), spend a dollar and download it.  Give it a listen.  I’d post the actual song on the blog, but I’m not sure that’s even legal these days, so I’ll just encourage proper behavior on this one.

Isn’t that a great song?  A little sad, but it really speaks to me regarding that time period.  You might ask, of course, how this is relevant to gaming.  Well, it just occurred to me, that many of OSR folks are sort of like the old beatnik chap that speaks throughout most of the song.  Full of regrets and nostaliga and simply wanting an ear to bend to hear their woes.  I’m okay with that, but just be aware that there’s only so much the rest of us can listen to.  I was around then, too, but that doesn’t mean I attached the same significance to the games you might have played.

So is that it?

Well, you know me.  I couldn’t leave well enough lone.  With apologies to one of my few rock heroes (the aforementioned Ian Anderson), I present a modified version of the song shown above.  If you’ve listened to it, you’ll have to try to superimpose my own lyrics on top of his already outstanding ones.  It’s my hope that these lyrics make the song a little more relevant to our little part of the gaming universe.  I offer no expectations regarding my writing skills, so read at your own risk.  Without further ado.  “From a Grognard to an Old Gamer”

From a grognard…to an old gamer,

here’s thinking of you.

You won’t remember…the long lines;

comic stores; black knights and bright signs

in shop windows

where young assistants…fully-fashioned a world

made of clay trees (with no druggies…or preppies…to reject them).

When cheats were banned every Sunday

and the Fundies played F.B.I.

And tired young role-players…sold their instruments of torture

sat in the game store…sharing wet dreams…of Mordenkainen,

Melf and Otto,

Lord Robilar…to name a few

of the heroes…who were too wise for their own good

left the young brood…to go on gaming…without them.

Fat beards…with round faces…who remember your name,

though you’re a grognard…with posts barred;

two ends that don’t jar.

To a grognard…from an old gamer.

Think you must have me all wrong.

I didn’t care, friend. I wasn’t there, friend,

If it’s the price of some dice that you need, ask me again.

Well, that’s my two cents.  Like I said above, I don’t expect it to make much difference, but there’s my thoughts for the record.  Look, play the game you want to play.  Play any version of any game you want.  You’re even entitled to your opinion of whatever game you want.  But you know what?  Don’t whine about it.  Don’t tell me you’ve cornered all the gaming wisdom in the universe, because I’m not going to listen to that.  Just play your game.  Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll have some dice to spare for you.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

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