An email I just received from an old metal colleague:
Oldschool rpgs and oldschool metal:
The discourse/apologea is the same. It's fascinating. I've been reading Grognardia a lot lately and on several posts about the difficult-to-quantify 'it' of oldschool RPG gaming that he tries to hone in I am reminded of the similar 'x factor' of great HM [Heavy Metal]. I read his 'The greatest problem with D&D' concept piece where it's how rpgs became about themselves and not about fantasy and all I can think of is the parallel to 'self aware metal bands being basically about themselves being metal' versus the more naive/child-like initial NWOBHM that explored a lot of adventurous territory that we have now somehow crossed out as 'not metal anymore'.
What I gather from the parallels is that nothing survives post-modernity. All niche art forms and hobbies will eventually learn that 'they' are something, and they will have to tackle how they talk about what they are. And then, hopefully, they must move past talking about what they are and go forward to using their aesthetics to communicate externalities in a self-informed manner. The conundrum with a lot of oldschool RPG design and obviously a lot of 'true'/classic/retro metal is that it emphatically doesn't do that, it doesn't work through this post-modern phase into adulthood, it merely searches for artificial (and mostly transparent) ways to return to being a child. Effectively, playing dumb. Some oldschool rpgs do it though, as does some modern HM with a good sense of history. That's the needed element, not being 'rooted in the past' but having a complete sense of history of the art-form.