Did you write this? I enjoyed it. How did the research happen? Web scraping?
I wrote it. Pretty much as soon as I got into the OSR I decided to write my own game, not really because of any issues per se but because I've been tinkering since I was a kid for whatever game I get into. But I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, so I needed to research; being a historian, research comes natural and I quite enjoy it. Also, being older, forums are my preferred way of interaction online. So I naturally looked for forums first, started at the beginning of Dragonsfoot's General Discussion and Simulacrum subforums (skipping the C&C threads, but even seeing the vast sea of them and then their dying out almost overnight once Labyrinth Lord came out was quite telling), and just started reading. After a year or two I felt I had things reasonably down, but the more I thought I figured out, the more I also noticed that no one could seem to agree on what the OSR was and how things were supposed to work, which was weird because I thought it was pretty damn clear, having read what I'd read.
It was one thing to try and define the OSR, and all the articles I found pretty much started and stopped there, with a heavy emphasis on preference first and methodology second, which is ass-backwards if you want accuracy. But for me the interesting question wasn't "what is it?" (because again, what it was supposed to be is really obvious) but "how do you start with something so niche and completely clear-cut and end up with the hopeless everyman mess that exists now?" It was only when I realized that only old people read forums and even blogs anymore that I understood: that Dragonsfoot or K&K are completely unknown, might as well not even exist, as far as most of the OSR is concerned. The understanding that there was a knowledge chain and it had become broken led to a lot of the articulation on the social media bits in the article, especially the Telephone/Chinese Whispers aspect of it.
The other big thing I think was the understanding that Finch's Primer had been a Pandora's Box in terms of game design, releasing a host of easily memable and mantra'd principles onto the world and inadvertently setting loose the idea that principles might be all you need. If you read OSR spaces, you constantly see these cute little phrases that are supposed to embody the OSR (combat as fail state, rules-light, combat as sport vs war, the aesthetics of ruin, the mythical underworld, player agency, etc etc). They're valuable, but should be treated as starting points, backed by specific context; instead they're just sort of parroted as answers in and of themselves and applied to all sorts of games. I'm just realizing as I explain this here that I should edit some of this into the article...
The research was mostly me remembering certain forum threads I'd read, or knowing where to look for them: Dragonsfoot and K&K both have pretty good search engines, thankfully, and the Wayback Machine preserved almost everything I wanted that was shutdown. And once I realized I was going to do the series, I started saving appropriate screenshots. Most of what I've used isn't linked anywhere: I picked it myself out of a sea of threads, so anyone doing further digging might come across other good candidates for inclusion (or notable oversights on my part).
: Nice job with the article. Very insightful and well articulated. It sure stirred things up over at K&KA. Are you posting there as "Albigensian
Yep, that's me there. I don't post much on the forums, but I read them all the time. I don't get the feeling too much was stirred up though, other than DD / Silvey getting angry that I didn't give him the credit he feels he deserves. But I didn't want to get into that kind of discussion as a newcomer over there vs a very longstanding regular because no one appreciates a new guy rolling up to an established space and making a mess, and I'm not sure what I'd say about it in any case other than "I didn't see any evidence that you created the OSR". Maybe I'll find it later or someone will chime in in support of him, in which case I'll edit it in like I've done a lot of other bits thus far, but it seems a pretty singular opinion, not shared by anyone else that I've noticed.
Also, I couldn't connect this paragraph to the ones above it
What are "the above two"?
I fixed this: thanks for pointing it out (it should have been "the above two subgroups"). And thanks for the kind words.