Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gaming Hipsters

Over at Fustians so Sublimely Bad, there was a mixture of lamentation and revelry that he was becoming a gaming (geek) hipster, liking only the older and more unusual game.   By that general description, I would be a gaming hipster, which I am most certainly not.  So what would one actually be?

The first question that needs to be answered is "What is a hipster?"  While I know it could very well be a case of I know it when I see it, the actual term needs a harder definition.

Hipsters take old forgotten things and make them trendy within their own community, sometimes within their own person.   Lumberjack flannel, 1880's beards, retro bicycles, Pabst Blue Ribbon, hunting down some book, movie, or band "You've probably never heard of."  If you're an honest-to-God lumberjack or life-long alcoholic with poor beer choices, you are not a hipster.   Of course, there are wide degrees of this.  A quick search of Google I'd like to think that my sister and brother-in-law, Sean, are socially acclimated hipsters (they' into some unusual stuff, but they are not only self-aware of their status, they're socially conscious of it.) 

The gaming hipster is going to follow the same short guidelines,  a thirty something devotedly playing White Box D&D with no other influences is the best example I can come up with.  A twenty something rolling up a dralasite for a Star Frontiers game is another.  My brother-in-law Sean still owns his copy of Star Frontiers when he was a teenager.  For him, a SF game would just be a nostalgic trip down memory lane...  unless he coerced every gamer in Jamaica Plain to just play Star Frontiers.  That would be kind of eerie.

From my response to the blog post, I think the qualifying question to be a gaming hipster is, "Did you buy/play the game when it was still in print?"   If no, then you're a hipster. If you played the game/watched the movie when it was current, at best you're simply nostalgic, at worst you're a hardcore grognard, or just an old fart.

Our group was borderline hipster in college around '93-94 because we were fascinated by all things FGU and anything Gamescience had been carrying in their catalog since the early 80's. I say borderline because all of those items could still be ordered through distribution channels.

The guy in our group who was totally ga-ga about 1st edition Tunnels & Trolls and nothing further out of Flying Buffalo? Total gaming hipster.   Of course that was the same person whose convoluted mind spawned Burning Plastic (minis rules for green army men well before it was cool), and Agitator (the d12 role playing system).

The whole "you probably never heard of it" angle doesn't fly in gaming (and beer).  Ignorance of a world outside of D&D/40K/Magic/Budweiser products doesn't mean the person interested in Savage Worlds/Dirtside/microbrews and any non-Japanese CCG in product is off the hip lunatic fringe.

I've always been a bit retro in my styles (the joke in college was that I was the responsible adult, since I dressed like I was straight out of the forties, with lots of hats and twenty years of enjoyment of Sloe Gin Fizzes).   Ever since I got my first Wargames West catalog in 1990, I've had an understanding and appreciation for games that "aren't D&D."    If I had actually managed to buy and run Rus, the Russian RPG (of mud), or fully fleshed out a West African Recon campaign, or focused all my fantasy RPG attention post-1994 with the Arcaneum (the Bard Games Atlantis Trilogy), I may have been a hipster. 


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