So, I Woke Up to This Video Yesterday…


I’m an OG (Old Gamer) fighting an uphill battle, starting with my own mental health.

Here’s the video from Gamers on Games:
He can be found on Twitter here, which is where I met him: https://twitter.com/YTGamersonGames

Strap in, family. This is going to be a LONG article. There’s a lot to unpack here.

He makes a lot of good points. Well worth listening.

When I woke up to this video yesterday. (literally, not “Woke.” Although that’s an issue, too.) I wanted to argue initially. I agree with most but not all of what was said. We’ve got some people in the Old School Renaissance community that regularly make embarrassing, bigoted comments.

We are literally seeing the tides of racism turning the other way within the RolePlaying Game hobby. Older cishet white (Caucasian) males are rapidly on our way out. (I say “our” because I’m sorta in that category.) There are still plenty of us around and the camps of bigots/everyone else are rapidly dividing.

The tragic irony is Dungeons and Dragons was created by a bunch of older white guys who were originally miniatures wargamers. Minis wargames were traditionally dominated by older white guys. It’s getting better. #warhammer is seeing a broader audience despite the gatekeeping in that community. The OSR RPG community is struggling with racism.

Racism is not possible in the face of Universal love and peace.

Get it right. It’s “Awakened,” not “woke.” This is NOT directed at Gamers On Games. I know all too well there are members of the OSR community who will cringe when I start talking about spiritual awakening. Right wing Christians, racists, transphobes/homophobes and others call it “woke.” My eyes were opened by the Universe.

Maybe racism has always been present in the RPG community. Maybe the spotlight has finally shown upon the dark corner that is racism in the RPG hobby/community in general. I’m Old School. I’ve had some pretty sketchy players in my groups before which were okay at the time as long as they kept their mouths shut about race, politics, and religion.

Over the years it has gotten better. The hobby has changed. I have changed. When one awakens to the Source of all creation and realizes we are all one at the end of the day. We are all a miniscule speck in the greater Universe. When one realizes we are effectively God experiencing all of creation, perspective on race shifts dramatically. How can one look at another person and hate when one is effectively hating on oneself?

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in a benevolent Creator. Yes, there is bad shit out there. There are very difficult people in every community, not just RPGs. These people (racists, -phobes, haters) are a challenge placed in the path of anyone who seeks to love all beings (in the spiritual sense.)

I’ve made my share of dumb mistakes in life and said some pretty horrific, regrettable things that I can’t ever get back. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I intend to do better. We’re ALL in this together. Some of us have bigger burdens to bear than others, especially in the RPG community.

#DropDaveCon is a legit hashtag.

Long spiritual rant aside, The nice folks at DaveCon, a premier gaming convention in the Midwest needs to either drop known bigots from their Guest of Honor roll, or lose attendees and vendors. There needs to be a clear, obvious message sent to the organizers of this convention that these old school bigots need to hit the road or radically change their views.

This hashtag, this convention makes me sad. I live in Des Moines, IA. It’s pretty much a gaming convention deadzone. We have one or two piddly conventions per year. I’d organize my own, (*And I KNOW how,) but it’s a lot of work and a lot of money to put a convention together.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has a ton of conventions. Davecon is about a three hour drive from where I live. I’d love to go. Except, money aside, their guest list includes some people I just can’t hang out with.

Sorry. Imagine driving all the way to Bloomington, MN just to be turned away from the table because of the color of your skin or your blue/pink hair? I can’t let that go. That would suck. Why not support conventions that encourage inclusivity and diversity instead?

Having an entire hashtag telling people to boycott a convention? Ouch. That’s bad press for any convention. Losing attendees can kill a convention for good. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not pretty.

Let’s talk Gygax for a moment.

Learn a little more about Ernie.https://g.co/kgs/Ger99Z

We all know and love E Gary Gygax, creator of the original T$R Games and specifically Dungeons & Dragons (Along with Dave Arneson and others.) Gary was an amazing man. Unfortunately, he did have some quacky views of women in gaming, but every big name game designer has a few skeletons. But Gary is still revered and loved by the most of the RPG community.

His son, Ernie Gygax (Jr.) is another story entirely. He has aligned and embedded himself in what we call NuTSR. For those who might not know, NuTSR has nothing to do with the old company beyond buying up the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Lake Geneva, WI, birthplace of D&D.

I’ve listened to interviews with Ernie. Some of them make me cringe because of some of the just ignorant things that roll out of his mouth. He’s kind of the face of the OSR in some ways, being the son of Gygax. His brother, Luke Gygax is still involved with the hobby to some extent, but not nearly as vocal.

Truthfully, I want to side with Ernie on one concept and only one. He is honestly trying to keep his father’s dream/legacy alive. I’d support him more if he hadn’t fallen in with the likes of Dave Johnson and Justin LaNasa. I’d be a fan if he hadn’t openly spewed a lot of negative comments about the LGTBQIA++ community and some pretty racist comments.

Having Ernie as a “Special Guest of Honor” at any convention? Ouch. I seriously question the judgment of the convention organizers at this point. #DropDaveCon. Yeah. Let’s say no to racism.

None of us are getting any younger.

The video, getting back to the original point, makes a very obvious, true statement about a lot of us OGs. Here in the next 20-30 years, most of us older (white) guys will be gone. I’ve got diabetes, fibromyalgia, obesity, bad teeth and bifocals. The video really makes me feel my mortality.

I’m just one example. I know a lot of OSR gamers have their share of health issues and none of us are getting any younger. However, I happen to know a younger generation of gamers that are starting to embrace a bit of that OSR goodness. It is possible for that part of the hobby to survive in much warmer, more sensitive, caring hands.

Take a look at a game called ShadowDark. It’s an OSR game if I’ve ever played one. If one were to talk to Kelsey, you would know she’s not one of us OGs. She is a brilliant, hard working RPG designer. @thearcanelibrary. on Twitter. I’ve written about her before here. (Yeah, I’m a fan.)

Yes, there are parts of the OSR that will vanish from the Earth eventually. Maybe they need to as a natural course of the hobby’s evolution. It saddens me as a RPG aficionado, writer, and lifelong GM that our legacy as gamers is so tarnished by a pack of loudmouth hate mongers as Gamers On Game’s video suggests.

I wish he (Dave/GamersonGames) was wrong. I would love to say, “Let’s just get back to gaming.” For the Love of God, I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t bring myself to ignore the hate and negativity in OUR (as in ALL of us) gaming community. We need to heal. We need to grow.

I love my hobby with all my heart. I love humanity in the eyes of Source. I won’t just sit here and let the racist crap go unchallenged any more. We have to live on this Earth as a family. Skin color, gender, sexuality, age, and so on has to be something we ALL have to accept as people. If Jesus and Buddha (or some other deific figures) wanted to sit in on your gaming session, wouldn’t you let them?

I’m not making excuses for all of the NuTSR crowd, Venger Satanis, and Evil DM. I think a lot of things that have been said and done at this point that are inexcusable. The sad part is, the actions of a few have spoken for the many in the OSR segment of the community, if not RPG enthusiasts in general. It stinks. I hate it. It’s up to the rest of the RPG community to pick up the pieces and try to repair the damage that has been done to the hobby’s reputation.

I feel for the companies that could potentially go belly up as a result of the OSR movement going away.

The one last point I want to make about the video is I have a lot of concern for companies such as Goodman Games, Necrotic Gnome, and the Arcane Library if the OSR movement in the RPG hobby goes away, which we most assuredly will someday. I love those companies that are putting out OSR/D&D retro clones. I have high hopes that some or all of the OSR producers will survive.

Wizards of the Coast is kinda the elephant in the room. You can’t swing a dice bag around in the convention scene or a game shop without hitting something touched by Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast and Renegade Game Studios are huge right now. That’s probably not going to change. However, that means the RPG community has to deal with their corporate culture for better or worse.

Wizards of the Coast profits from pretty much all of it, and they don’t seem to care much about the OSR.

WotC also controls the rights to most or all of the original TSR trademarks and copyrights. This is especially true of D&D. I know they want to push their new products. We’re going to hear no end of rhetoric about One D&D for the next approximately two years. When 2024 rolls around, we could very easily see WotC pull the plug on all of the reprints, DMsGuild, and pretty much anything in the various Open Game License content that they don’t like.

WotC could end up being the dreadful gatekeepers of PDF products, especially TSR reprints, that some of us were always afraid they would become. I’m sure they’ll find some clever McCorporate way to put it to the fans like, “We don’t see editions any more in One D&D. Come buy all the new stuff.” All the Indie creators that rely on OGL products could have to move away from DriveThruRPG in the coming years. That will also fuel the demise of the OSR because we rely on reprints and a lot of independent content providers for our games.

Imagine a world where no one plays original D&D, BECMI, 1st AD&D, 2nd Ed D&D or anything that remotely resembles them ever again. Imagine entire conventions shutting down because attendance fell off. What’s it going to be like when WotC presents their virtual platform and all their new, young 5E/One D&D crowd flocks to it, consequences and side effects be damned. Yeah, I’d say a world without an OSR is possible.

Remember, RPG family: your hobby is being judged by the actions of some loudmouth, hate-mongering stooges.

WotC was smart to file an injunction against NuTSR to stop production on Star Frontiers New Genesis and other reprint products. An inferior product produced by a pack of known, very vocal bigots would not help the hobby. It would make us ALL look like idiots. It’s bad enough we OGs have to try to shake the stereotype applied to the OSR.

That’s my final thought on the subject. It was pointed out in the video. All of us old, white guy gamers are being stereotyped and judged based on the actions of loudmouth racists. I can’t stop stupid. Duct tape can’t fix it. Please forgive those of us who don’t think the way they do and don’t behave the way they do. Thank you!

I appreciate you being here. More on this topic to come. It really hit home between the old white guy/OSR stereotype and the mortality bit. I’m not lying when I say I’m pretty bummed out right now.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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