Cataloging Performance Art and other Ephemera

I grew up gaming in a pre-Internet era. Knowledge was scarce, and conveyed via oral traditions, tattered rulebooks, and gaming magazines. Then, the Internet came, and TSR clamped down on their property. It could’ve been glorious, but instead it was a frustration.

In fact, I spent several hours every week in college trying to connect to the anointed TSR content server – I forget its name, but it was rumored to house lots of house rules and hacks that TSR had “sanctioned”. Don’t ask how I heard the rumor, I assume I stumbled upon it via gopher.

Then came the OGL, and the floodgates of creativity opened. Discussions happened on numerous fronts. There was explorations of the D20 and OGC…systems clearly derived with permission from all involved (e.g. Pathfinder). There was exploration of self-publishing that went beyond D20 (e.g. the Forge). And archaeological digs into the core of old school began (e.g. OSRIC).

There was a creative fervor that began and continues. It was always there…just ask to see any old school gamers GM notebook of house rules and hacks. But now we are all seeing how the sausage is made.

Collectively we are exploring our hobby in fascinating ways. Take a moment to read Robin D. Laws post on the self-publishing vanguard that has been RPGs. Our collective desire to make our mark on our hobby has advanced more than just personal egos, it has expanded our horizons (e.g. Fiasco) while making our history readily available (e.g. OSR).

There may very well be fatigue on the horizon – I know Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are ever a temptation for me. Truth be told so many people are making awesome fantastic things. And the temptation for me comes in wanting to recapture those sublime moment of gaming…where the walls melt away and everyone at the table is their character.

Clearly, passionate people are pouring their energy into creative works. They are exploring a means of capturing and conveying their moments at the table to a larger audience. And we as the gaming community are hungry. And it is not just Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, it is podcasting, forums, blogs, Google+, Twitter, and others.

And the big one gamification. Our little subculture has been a harbinger of things to come. We are the intersection of learning, community, self-publishing, and entertainment.

Our history is preserved, thanks to Creative Commons and the Open Game License. Our future is open as we are all extremely passionate about the games we play. Geek culture has won, now what will we do with our winnings?

I believe we should share our winnings. Show them. But don’t tell them all the great things.

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