Saturday, June 8, 2019

Autopsy Report on an Equine Cadaver



On my last post, someone asks:

I'm curious, as I wasn't around back then- what happened in 2013 that makes you consider that about the time that the OSR died?


I peg it at 2013 because of a number of trends, most of which intersect with the mass movement to G+ space (and the forced integration of G+ and blogger) by OSR participants. 

1. Blogs.
The rate of blogging was falling dramatically in favour of G+ posting. And, by this time, many core OSR blogs and their associated communities, and blogs as a means of communicating between bloggers, had either stopped (a la Grognardia in 2012) or disappeared (a la Eiglophean Press in the late Triassic). The ones that kept posting tended to degenerate into clickbaity content-grinding (like endless d100 tables du jour or Zak’s Fiend Folio bullshit). This is partially driven by…

2. Monetization. While other people (cough Evan cough) have strong feelings on the aesthetics of the monetization of OSR blog material, I don’t really have a problem with it, but the move from posting, discussion and criticism to aggregating, publishing, and promoting dramatically changed the tone and quality of OSR discourse. Around 2013 "OSR" became a promotional term to stick on your PDF or KS to sell to the preexisting audience of blog-readers.

For one thing, tons of people seemed to shift into Consumer Mode at the drop of a hat, even when it was at odds to the very point of the shit they were reading up to that point. The central event here is everyone getting their jimmies rustled for a Dwimmermount book, despite Maliszewski specifically saying that a published megadungeons are bound to disappoint. And then when real life intruded on the (too optimistic) KS schedule, some people started flipping out and shitting on Maliszewski personally. Then someone started bitching about round numbers of coins in rooms, proving Maliszewski right… 

You can call someone’s blog post crap (and explain why) and still be friends or respected colleagues; but doing a bad review of their product (and explaining why it is) takes money (theoretically) out of their hands, hanging a sword of Damocles over presenting anyone’s real thoughts about anything publicly. And the OSR was never And people care about this more because…

3. Socialization. The faster pace of G+ commenting and the face-to-face communication of ConstantCon exposed much of the community to much more intimate scrutiny of itself than before, stripping away the emotional distance of blogging and replacing it with the awkwardness of actual speech. By 2013, what previously had been a community linked primarily by blogrolls had become more discrete sub-communities based around playing in weekly games with mostly consistent player-bases, which sorted themselves according to subsets of interests, personalities, and politics. Ideas which previously were written up in blog posts become bullshit you said at 2am to 1d6 randos across the globe. 

4. Politics. (All kinds).
With exposure to more people in more frequent and intimate ways, things about each participant in the community that never really came up in (most) blogs started to become obvious to the other participants, and around this point most people started dissociating themselves with large sections of the community based around political views — both ‘regular’ politics and internal scene politics. (I had a list of examples here, but it infuriates me still to recount them, so I will leave them mouldering in G+'s grave.) A year later, the intersection of external politics, internal politics, and another scene's internal politics gave rise to greater actual stakes for all of it. 

2 comments:

  1. 2012 is also when LotFP and DCC really started getting quite a lot of attention beyond the bounds of the OSR, and that sort of ushered in the whole second wave of "not really compatible with TSR" games. That, for me, was the first ring of the ol' death knell bell.

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  2. Thanks for the perspective, and for writing a whole post in response! I was vaguely aware of the decline of blog posts in favor of google plus, but for someone starting in 2018 it's hard to see that in perspective.

    I hear you on the politics. It's *endless*. I pegged that as starting around 2016 for fairly obvious reasons, interesting to know this had it's roots earlier.

    Most of what I have read is from around the 2014, 2015 era onwards. One day I should do a deeper dive of the old blogs.

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