Friday, October 1, 2010

Lo, These Many Years...

Sometimes, I think the real driving force behind nostalgia is that "back in the day," we didn't take things as seriously. They were just... there. Someone had an idea that they thought was good, and they ran with it. It wasn't of economic importance; it wasn't going to put 6,000 people out of work if it turned out to be a flash in the pan... it was what it was, and you could take it for that, and it didn't need to be anything else.

I think this game was more fun 30 years ago...Still nerdy, after all these years...
Back when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, it wasn't an industry, it was just a fun way to waste some time, playing what's really just a remarkably involved game of "pretend." Cross Lord of the Rings with Cops and Robbers and add in a dash of the Game of Life, and pretty much there you are. But in the three decades that have come and gone, the game has gone from being some little booklets put out by a small outfit that only die-hard wargamers had ever heard of to a massive production by one of the largest toy companies on Earth.

The old versions are long gone now, unless you're a collector. But a new group of game companies has sprung up with the express intent of recreating the feel (and in some cases, the look) of the originals. And even though it strikes me as bizarre, I think I know where they're coming from. The current game just isn't the same. Part of it is simple evolution. It's much more sophisticated than the original. But part of it is just plain baggage - the accumulated weight of decades of expectations that people expect to have filled, and of changes, some big and some small, designed to keep something that people have become familiar with fresh and new.

Of course, there's always the element of wanting to turn back the clock. Not that I want to be 11 again, but there was something really fun in barely having any Earthly clue as to what I was doing or attempting to accomplish, and when you're not quite a teenager yet, a lot of your world can be enjoyably confusing in a way that the Adult world can never quite manage.

But then again, this is the nice thing about book nostalgia, isn't it? They keep better than vintage cars, and you don't have to worry about someone releasing them on DVD. As long as they stay on the shelf, you can always go back to them. And while they'll always be familiar, give them long enough, and you have to discover their contents all over again.

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