Thursday, May 23, 2013

Living History

Paul at Blog of Holding has a post about an ad in The Strategic Review for GDW's En Garde! today.

In the post, Paul mistakes Game Designers Workshop - the company which produced a wide range of board games and roleplaying games, including Traveller, Space: 1899, and Twilight: 2000, among many, many others - with Games Workshop, the miniatures, war games, roleplaying games, and White Dwarf publisher. A commenter quickly corrects the error.

isto I mention this not to highlight the error or the correction, but because it reminded me of something else. One of the many valuable functions of the roleplaying gamer blogoverse is to serve as a living archive of the knowledge and experiences of gamers, to record the facts and figures - like the difference between GDW and GW - but also more personal recollections of gamers, some of them collected over the course of decades.

Personal experience can be a slippery thing. 'The plural of anecdote isn't data' is a frequent admonition to those who attempt to extrapolate from their recollections to the whole of a population. There may be questions about an account's reliability, as a witness may deliberately or inadvertently shade the story. But oral history is a real thing and shouldn't be dismissed lightly. In large numbers, oral histories of individuals taken together can form a powerful and cohesive narrative, and one of the byproducts of blogging is to record that history.

I've had the impression over the years that some bloggers feel posts not devoted to actual play - be it something like a random table or an npc description to drop in during a game, or an adventure log - are a waste of time (see: Joesky tax). For my part, I appreciate hearing about how bloggers arrive at their conclusions, as well as the conclusions themselves, because they often reveal bits of their own history in the process, and by so doing enrich the living history of roleplaying games.

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