Well, it’s a weird title but I needed something that would connect to video gaming. I wrote last Friday about the amazing experience of seeing the National Symphony Orchestra perform the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. And I was struck by something. I can never – really – be a part of this. There are experiences in this crowd that – a strange kind of shared experiences – that I will never be a part of.
I’ve written before about one of the aspects which draws me to table-top gaming is that pen-and-paper, traditional roleplaying games “age” better than video games. The graphics are in our imagination, and even if we play will tablets and laptops at the game table now, we still have the experience of sharing a game, with friends, using rules that might have been written last week or thirty years ago and it really doesn’t make a difference. I mean, I love Battletech, and it’s more than 25 years old at this point but it’s fundamentally the same game it’s been since I started playing in the early 90s.
But I was really struck by this during the concert. They were displaying all these scenes from the game to accompany the music and I was surprised by how much it bothered me that, you know, some of those games are the same age as Battletech but I couldn’t even play them now if I wanted to. Technology marches on – consoles get replace, and games you used to be able to play just can’t be played anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s changing in some cases — I actually love playing Streets of Rage on my PS3 – but when I think about the shared experience of Zelda, or Halo, or the recent media/fan reaction to the end of the Mass Effect storyline… I’m sad because those games, those experiences are very beholden to time and place — in a way that tabletop RPGs are not.
And this reminded me of something I read once (and no, I can’t really source this because I can’t remember where I read it) that really made sense to me — that the original series of modules for D&D/AD&D were such a wonderful thing because they created a sense of “oh yeah, Ghost Tower of Inverness – we did that,” “Slavers, yep,” “Ah, Isle of Dread.” You know, players and GMs could compare notes, share the experience of being a part of those adventures when they got together.
But those old adventures are gone too. WotC is sitting on them. Like classic children’s movies stuck in the Disney Vault, those old adventures only see the light of day in updated and changed modern versions… “Return to…” It’s not the same. I’d give a lot to see WotC give me the chance to fill in the gaps in my B-series of modules. I’d love to do the B-series again for a group of new players. It’s why I still drag out my old collections of Dungeon from time to time and dust off an old adventure.
Anyway. I’m reminiscing. I know it’s boring. I just — I don’t know, I hate to see old games disappear forever. It’s why I’m grateful to the OSR folks even if I’m not currently running an OS game. It’s why I love how all the old White Wolf games are all up on RPGNow and I can fill in the gaps in some of my first ed collections of OWoD. Now I just need to see Wizards get on board with this and I’ll be set. Keep sharing.
Thanks for reading.
PS – I was trying to think about games that are still active, still current, that are long-time runners and still very closely resemble what they have been all along and all I could come up with were Battletech and Call of Cthulhu/BRP. What am I forgetting?