Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Art and Ideology in the OSR
Each spring I attend at least two academic popular culture conferences. This year I'm attending the Popular Culture Association (US National) conference in San Antonio (any readers hail from there?) in April and the inaugural conference of the Popular Culture Association of Canada conference (May) in Niagara Falls.
At these conferences scholars present their latest research and receive constructive criticism (or a destructive tongue-lashing) from their colleagues. In the last couple years I've been giving papers on the construction of nostalgia in D&D and plan to do so again this year.
Specifically, I want to examine the cover and interior art of OSR products. I'm doing so with a firm belief in the following:
1. Art is political, ideological, and therefore carries meaning
2. Art reveals a discourse of past and present
3. Reality and fantasy are the same thing.
These are my assumptions as they relate to examining the art as a "text" to be read for its component parts.
Here are some of my preliminary thoughts. They are not fully-formed and this is not yet a complete list.
OSR art is:
1. Based in the "emergent fantasy RPG" art of TSR D&D, but is not self-referencing in the same way that 4E art is now self-referencing
2. Reflective of the desired style of play (perhaps also like 4E)
(rules-lite, rulings not rules, weak thieves not heroes)
3. A reaction against the corporate rpg model and mentality (WotC)
4. Reaction against 4E.
I'd certainly appreciate your 2gp worth. Feel free to agree, disagree, or encourage an alternative set of viewpoints.
I'm asking for your input because these papers will speak about the community and what is valued by its members. It's simply appropriate to ask for your opinion.