Sunday, November 3, 2019

1973 vs. 1974

This may not be of particular interest to most folks, but it is to me, and I just want to muse for a moment. I cry your pardon, folks.

"Generations" are a strange thing. We throw around terms like "Gen X" or "Millennial" or "Boomer," but while we assume those color our perspective based on an overall melding of "world events" during the formative years (i.e. while growing up together) leading to (presumably) similar life experiences, it takes so much out of the nuance of life, that have such a greater impact on how we feel and believe and act.

[some folks knowing my pursuit and study of astrology over the years might consider it ironic that I would make such a statement rather than buying into "sweeping generalizations" of pigeon-holing but, as I've said before, astrology takes into account a lot more than the placement of a person's sun at the moment of birth and encompasses far more than the daily blurb in a newspaper]

Fact is, there are things occurring all the time, in many walks of life that color and change us ["duh," says my readers. Just bear with me a moment, okay?] and the impact has more effect, more "pull" (in a gravitational sense) the more local it is.

For example, the city of Seattle used to have a pretty good basketball team called the SuperSonics. It was sold to an Oklahoma City businessman who moved the team to OKC in 2008. This has led to a strange relationship with basketball (and the NBA in particular) in this market. Some folks have been "boycotting" the NBA ever since. Many people refuse to patronize Starbucks (in Seattle!) as it was Howard Schultz who sold the team to outside ownership, failing to consider any responsibility he might have to a community as the guardian of a beloved local sports team. And many, many kids who may love the sport of basketball, have grown up without a local NBA team to watch and support, instead becoming fans of...well, whatever team they've become fans of I assume. My kids don't even watch basketball on TV. Where your perspective is has a LOT to do with where you were in relationship to the team at the time it was sold in 2008. That is a generational divide.

I'll give you another sporty example: the local NFL team enjoys a fairly rabid following and has for decades. Seattle has long been a "football town," stemming from the University of Washington Huskies (est. circa 1889), but the locals tend to take the game pretty much so that the team retired the jersey number "12" in honor of their fans back in 1984.

[there was a brief period when the NFL instituted a rule penalizing a team's fans by calling "delay of game" for noise interference. This was mainly aimed at curbing Seattle fans, and a very loud concrete arena called the Kingdome. Having been part of those crowds back in the early family had season tickets...I can remember games where our team received multiple such penalties, which only served to "fire up" the crowd more]

But amongst Seahawk fans, too, there are distinct "generational divides." For instance, I've been a fan since the early days when the team were part of the AFC West, and our main rivals were the Raiders and the Broncos (many of those "delay of game" penalties were called in those games). To this day, I still get a charge out of watching Denver GM John Elway squirm when his team is losing...the Super Bowl beatdown of 2013 will (probably) remain the highlight of my football watching career for the remainder of my life. On the other hand, people who've only followed the team since the realignment in 2002ish carry no such spite for these teams, reserving their bile for the Rams and the Niners. Likewise, there are those Seahawks fans who (like me) will always hate and root against the Steelers until the day every last member of their 2005 team has been expunged from their roster (Big Ben is, I think, the last one)...and then there are the fans who are known (derisively) by the locals as "12s since '12" meaning bandwagon fans who've only hopped on board since the Russell Wilson era. Even within a niche of a single locality there are generational divides based on particular events and our relationship to them and NOT based simply on age and geo-political events in general.

Where were you when "Grunge" music became a thing? Where were you when it became popular? And not just location-wise...where were you in your life? My mother was a young adult during the 1960s, but she never became a hippy or part of any peace movement. "I was too busy working," she says. She was still a progressive liberal, still living in a west coast, urban center (where she'd moved at the age of 18 from Missoula, Montana)...but Seattle of the 1960s was nothing like San Francisco at that time. We might all be hippy-dippy granola types now with our legalized pot and environmentally friendly bike-lanes, but that hasn't always been the case.

Beer. That's always been the case. At least out here.

SO...why am I talking about this? Well, with regard to RPGs in general and D&D in particular, it's long been a point of fascination to me which edition started players off in The Game and the age breakdowns I tend to find, especially when it comes to adherents to one particular edition or other. Occasional outliers aside, I've simply found more people of MY birth year (1973) to dig on the 1st edition of AD&D while players in the 1974+ bracket to find their "calling" in the 2nd edition. At least as far as we're talking about "advanced" Dungeons & Dragons play.

Here's the thing...I mean here is THE thing: there are two things working on this particular generational divide in D&D editions (that I've discussed before but never taken the real time to suss out). One is the prominently displayed age recommendation on the front of the game. The other is the "feeder system" being published at the time, i.e. the particular brand of "basic" D&D sitting on the shelves.

While I know that many, many people were introduced to the game of Dungeons & Dragons through an older, experienced mentor, most Dungeon Masters (if not all) were self-taught when it comes to the rules of the game. And I'd guess that this is still pretty much the case, because...because...

Most Dungeon Masters are self-taught.

Most Dungeon Masters are self-taught.

I'm sorry, my brain has just jumped the rails of what I was writing about.

Okay, I'm sure I had some interesting point I was trying to make but now I have a far more interesting thought that I want to chew over and blog about...a thought both beautiful and hideous at the same time though (unfortunately) one I probably won't get to post about till tomorrow. Um...let's sum up this one for the nonce: um...

...actually (and I apologize again), my original thought has entirely flown my addled brain. "Mind blown," as the kids say these days (attach appropriate visual cue). Really, I'm sorry.

More later.


  1. Born in 75, I hate the Broncos and the Steelers (the refs who f'd us in that game) and Ive had my Hawks tickets since 2004 so I never got to see game live in the kingdome (saw a Mariners game there once.) I am more of a 2e guy than a 1e guy even though I started with 1e. So yeah I would say you 1974 cut off applies to me.

  2. Something interesting to think about, most DMs are self taught

    Even for me that is mostly true. I had been growing up and playing d&d for about a decade before I began DMing in highschool. I didn't even read any of the becmi rulebooks my dad used until middle school. When I finally started DMing, my dad didn't offer any real help or criticism. I've since talked to him about my games back then, and he clearly recognized mistakes I made that I can see in hindsight, but he never offered advice at the time. So, really my style of DMing is self taught. Even if I may have been influenced by my dad's games in my childhood, my experience as a DM is still purely my own.

  3. I was born in late 74 (a couple weeks from my 45th birthday) and am solidly in the 1E generation - by the time AD&D 2E came out in ‘89 i was already a seasoned D&D veteran of 5+ years and deep into exploring other non-D&D rpgs and while I did buy the first wave of 2E products, within a year or so I’d permanently jumped off the train.

    That said, I don’t totally disagree with your premise. As a kid I always felt like I was coming in at or even a bit past the end of the golden age and that kids a couple years older than me, who’d gotten into the hobby around 81-82 had a different/better experience than I did. Even as a kid I could tell that product quality (other than production values) was in decline and that trend was accelerating, especially into 87-88.

    I was introduced to D&D by a friend who was introduced to it by his older brother. If not for that brother, if I’d been left to discover the game on my own, I’m not sure I would have. By 1985-86, when I probably would’ve become interested if left to my own devices, the popularity of the game was in decline and its “cool” factor had evaporated. I’d likely have just gotten more into computer games.

  4. jajajajja i loved this entry man. So fresh. Hail from another gamer and (amateur) astrologer

  5. Coincidentally, I was in Seattle the week the Kingdome came down. Just one of those things.

  6. Like Trent I’m also from late 74 and I think of 2E as the version my little brother played though I admit I was in the cusp between editions. I remember following the lead up to 2E in Dragon with a lot of anticipation but never really transferred over. I think the terrible interior in 2E art was a big reason - also I had already managed to buy the 1E books (an expensive task for a middle schooler).