The Grind

One of the interesting results to come out of my recent discussion with Ron Edwards was a keener appreciation for the games industry, and how it affects creativity.  I think I am with James Maliszewski when he says on Grognardia that “[i]f anything, I found my enjoyment lessened and a big part of my abandoning it was based on my knowing too much about [the games industry].”

I don’t think of this as a major breakthrough, but I do think that the very aesthetic of the Old School Renaissance of “just make stuff up” is essentially subversive insofar as the games industry is concerned – as Dave Arneson once noted.  While it is true that the “indie” game movement has blazed something of a trail towards alternative commercial models for game publishing, the emphasis in the OSR on setting hobbyist creativity above commercialization simply for its own sake is no bad thing.

The telling element of this came about as I was looking for weblinks for James Wallis, who I have enjoyed gaming with ever-so-briefly in the past.  In an interview from a few years ago, he noted that the demand of acting in a business mode often conflicts with attempts to be artistically creative.  I don’t think that this is true dichotomy, but the tension does exist.  All of this is to say that the value of what you make up for your own game shouldn’t be measured against some abstract or artificial notion of “could that be commercially viable?” The real question ought to be:

“Are you having fun?”

One thought on “The Grind

  1. Reading the comments to James Maliszewski's posting of the Arneson quote, I was amazed that almost nobody was ready to accept it without heavy qualification. It scandalized them, it didn't inspire them.

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