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In an interesting fit of synchronicity, I was listening to a good reading of Hannah Arendt's The Rise of Totalitarianism last night, and in particular to a discussion of how various social/political movements of the second half of the 19th century picked up on and used ideas including that principles and claims only have meaning within a particular society constructed by its members choices, that nothing in history is relevant to the group-culture until the group chooses to make it so, that all standards outside the group are either trivial or oppressive...and so on and on.

Very little is as new as either its friends or foes want it to be, I guess.

From my perspective, the common culture at the start of gaming was simply the result of its drawing on a very narrow slice of society. The gaming population broadened immediately - as in, within weeks of D&D appearing at sf cons, there was demand in a bunch of sf apas and fanzines for the damned RPG talk to go elsewhere already, and within a year there were at least two apas that flourished for decades to come. But as I've commented before, the grognard movement of today is quick to write out inconveniently un-Gygaxian alternatives, even ones with roots in that very first year of RPGs on the market. Heterogeneity has been there all along, but can be pushed aside as "oh, well, that doesn't matter and isn't as pure as our real thing".

drawing on a very narrow slice of society... Heterogeneity has been there all along

Bingo. As usual, it seems there were multiple wargaming campaigns that were tending in some kind of RPG direction, and that when EGG and DA brought out D&D, some other folks thought they'd better hurry up and write up their ideas, too. Allegedly Runequest was already in some sort of development when the LBBs came out, although I don't know if the counterfactual (what if RQ had been published first) is a valid exercise, because D&D has such an immediate effect on Stafford.

Actually, I'd love to see what some of those counterfactual games could have been - what if one of the other wargame campaigns had taken off, and it became natural to always have players command battalions rather than individuals, or if White Bear Red Moon had lit the spark, and we saw a whole industry of homebrewed expandable boardgames?
Hm. Now I want to play in a Risk LARP.

High-level play in the Camarilla network pretty much is RISK LARP, and I think that's a big part of its appeal to the stalwarts.

I sometimes wonder if D&D had been delayed a year, whether we'd have had the marketplace emerge in 1975 with 2-4 loci right in parallel. Possibly a smaller market, but wider spread.

It's so weird to me that people throw "relativism" and "postmodernism" around as if... as if, I suppose, human nature underwent some massive shift a few decades ago, and now we have this new behavior as fundamental as laws of supply and demand which drives us to (apparently) read trashy romance novels instead of Ovid. I honestly generally shut out a discussion entirely when either of those words is used, because I'm convinced I don't understand what is meant by them.

That's a useful survival mechanism. Sadly, much of the time I can't do the same, for (perhaps one day) professional reasons.

Your example suggests a (intellectually bankrupt, positivist) experiment: to track the per capita sales of some canon of classical literature and some suitably trashy romances, from say 1910 to the present. Who knows what might come up?

People have always read trashy romance novels instead of Ovid. Including, one suspects, the Emperor Augustus.

But until fairly recently, the phrase "instead of Ovid" was more a normative statement than it is now. The notion that one has to defend the existence of a Canon is relatively recent, but it does predate Derrida.

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