D&D General Understanding History: Why Serious Scholarship of D&D Matters

The focus Peterson places on documentary evidence is to cut across gaps in memory thst cone over the decades. A given person's account if what happened 30 years ago in a dispute is by the nature of things fuzziness than contemporary court statements. We all conflate and edit over time.
That makes sense, but there remains preponderance of evidence from multiple sources.

Consider for example, a comparison of memory vs a written diary from the time. The diary could be given more weight because it was closer to the time in which the evidence was gathered, but there's no guarantee that what was put into the diary at the time was inaccurate.

Then there is the 'sources' problems we see again and again in modern media. Multiple outlets quote the same source and, some will weigh the outlets as cumulative evidence when, there is just a single evidentiary source.

Here's something that comes to mind when it comes to sources and RPGs. I was at a 'con and looking at a vendor's monster book based on Japanese mythology and folktales, and the writer happened to be there. I asked him what his sources were. Ultimately, he admitted that he just used other RPG books.

I think a good takeaway is that there's nothing wrong with making a statement but, if you want it to be taken seriously beyond that of a personal experience, you need to back that up with sources, and the sources themselves need to be adjudged their evidentiary value. There's nothing wrong with an 'Old Salt' relating their experiences - just accept that its a statement of a memory of a personal experience.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
That makes sense, but there remains preponderance of evidence from multiple sources.

Consider for example, a comparison of memory vs a written diary from the time. The diary could be given more weight because it was closer to the time in which the evidence was gathered, but there's no guarantee that what was put into the diary at the time was inaccurate.

Then there is the 'sources' problems we see again and again in modern media. Multiple outlets quote the same source and, some will weigh the outlets as cumulative evidence when, there is just a single evidentiary source.

Here's something that comes to mind when it comes to sources and RPGs. I was at a 'con and looking at a vendor's monster book based on Japanese mythology and folktales, and the writer happened to be there. I asked him what his sources were. Ultimately, he admitted that he just used other RPG books.

I think a good takeaway is that there's nothing wrong with making a statement but, if you want it to be taken seriously beyond that of a personal experience, you need to back that up with sources, and the sources themselves need to be adjudged their evidentiary value. There's nothing wrong with an 'Old Salt' relating their experiences - just accept that its a statement of a memory of a personal experience.
Well, aure. Peterson has done all of that in his RPG history work...?
 

Think about it- the majority of people commenting about "AD&D" are doing so having never played 1e (just 2e) or having played just a little 1e before playing 2e - this makes sense just by looking at the grim math of an actuarial table.
Math please? To my understanding, AD&D 1e (I just call it AD&D since that was the name at the time) was the first peak of D&D popularity, ~1983, when it was on TV, a cover story of Newsweek which mentioned 4 million players, caused the Satanic Panic, and was in a popular mainstream movie (ET). There’s a reason Stranger Things shows a version of that game.

I’d have to go check Ben Riggs book, but I think 2e was lower in sales than AD&D 1e - oddly enough, I think he said Basic (which no one I knew played) outsold both editions of AD&D. 2e did have the books and computer games, but to my mind (which, yeah is your point, but “I was there man!”) 2e era D&D (1988-1999) lacked the mass cultural phenomenon of the earlier period.

(I think 3x was more popular than 2e, and be shocked if the hype that 4e was a low ebb and 5e is by far the most popular aren’t true. My guess is 2e had the fewest or second fewest players, sitting alongside 4e. Hoping for a Ben Riggs sequel to tell us.)

As for AD&D 1e players being dead now - “the grim math of the actuarial table” - starting at 12 years old in the AD&D era (1977-1987) = Gen X. My original and college gaming groups are all still alive. Admittedly, health issues are real for several of us in our 50’s, and I did lose a Millennial friend from the 3e era, but it’s not like there’s been a mass extinction of the AD&D 1e/Basic generation.

I can see the confusion though, as WotC famously in charts about who plays left a blank space for born 1965-1981. No one’s ever heard of them. :)
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
As for AD&D 1e players being dead now - “the grim math of the actuarial table” - starting at 12 years old in the AD&D era (1977-1987) = Gen X.
I suspect that the plurality of 1st generation of D&D players were demographically boomers, not GenX.*

Besides the game’s creators, most of the players I knew of in ‘77 (when I was 10 and living in Aurora, CO) were graduating HS or in college. The percentage of players I knew who were college students in 1980 (when I lived in Manhattan, KS) was even higher- the KSU bookstore was the best place in town to get new D&D and Traveller material, as well as AH board games. And in that region, there were a large number of gamers who were activel duty military personnel. Even the clientele in the hobby shops in Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence and KC that carried RPGs skewed older.

* and I believe a high percentage of them came from the wargaming community.
 
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I suspect that the plurality of 1st generation of D&D players were demographically boomers, not GenX.
Sounds like I’m 2-3 years younger than you.

I started in 1982, with a new neighbor who learned in a gifted program in Illinois before moving to NY State.

Everyone I knew in my exurban area who played D&D was playing AD&D at people’s homes. All born 1965-1975, but then again that’s who I knew. Same story in college, but that was in a rural area.

No gaming community, no high school gaming club, no public play.

Growing up, the “gaming store” was the Hobby Workshop in Bedford Hills, NY. It mostly sold toy trains and other hobby stuff, and had no place to play.

In college, we founded the official role playing club in 1989 (still going!), but we did inherit original Boot Hill from the 1970’s from an old long defunct club. The nearest gaming store was like 1 hour away, until one of us started one closer. :)
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
Sounds like I’m 2-3 years younger than you.

I started in 1982, with a new neighbor who learned in a gifted program in Illinois before moving to NY State.

Everyone I knew in my exurban area who played D&D was playing AD&D at people’s homes. All born 1965-1975, but then again that’s who I knew. Same story in college, but that was in a rural area.

No gaming community, no high school gaming club, no public play.

Growing up, the “gaming store” was the Hobby Workshop in Bedford Hills, NY. It mostly sold toy trains and other hobby stuff, and had no place to play.

In college, we founded the official role playing club in 1989 (still going!), but we did inherit original Boot Hill from the 1970’s from an old long defunct club. The nearest gaming store was like 1 hour away, until one of us started one closer. :)
Roughly same here. Started Ad&d in around ‘82, major metropolitan area, closest game store was “Compleat Strategist” with no play area. We didn’t know of any gaming community, I started a club in high school (immortalized in the Yearbook). We still play some 40 years later with the same core 4 players, but have also since branched out. Still only play “at home.” I’m also in the middle of your “born between” dates.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I started in 1982, with a new neighbor who learned in a gifted program in Illinois before moving to NY State.
I was taught by a slightly older kid who got permission to run a game in the library at East Middle School. Been hooked ever since!

To be clear: MY early gaming groups were other kids, +- my age by a couple years. But I could see we were not the norm by who was in the stores buying stuff.
 

Roughly same here. Started Ad&d in around ‘82, major metropolitan area, closest game store was “Compleat Strategist” with no play area. We didn’t know of any gaming community, I started a club in high school (immortalized in the Yearbook). We still play some 40 years later with the same core 4 players, but have also since branched out. Still only play “at home.” I’m also in the middle of your “born between” dates.
I discovered the Compleat Strategist in the late 1980’s (I think a summer between years in college). It was in a guidebook about shopping in NYC. Great place.
 

I can see the confusion though, as WotC famously in charts about who plays left a blank space for born 1965-1981. No one’s ever heard of them. :)

Yeah, I found that very disappointing and, of course, those older than that. If you are a boomer or genX and still playing, you are also a lot less price sensitive, but also more likely to want a large print book.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Math please? To my understanding, AD&D 1e (I just call it AD&D since that was the name at the time) was the first peak of D&D popularity, ~1983, when it was on TV, a cover story of Newsweek which mentioned 4 million players, caused the Satanic Panic, and was in a popular mainstream movie (ET). There’s a reason Stranger Things shows a version of that game.

I’d have to go check Ben Riggs book, but I think 2e was lower in sales than AD&D 1e - oddly enough, I think he said Basic (which no one I knew played) outsold both editions of AD&D. 2e did have the books and computer games, but to my mind (which, yeah is your point, but “I was there man!”) 2e era D&D (1988-1999) lacked the mass cultural phenomenon of the earlier period.

(I think 3x was more popular than 2e, and be shocked if the hype that 4e was a low ebb and 5e is by far the most popular aren’t true. My guess is 2e had the fewest or second fewest players, sitting alongside 4e. Hoping for a Ben Riggs sequel to tell us.)

As for AD&D 1e players being dead now - “the grim math of the actuarial table” - starting at 12 years old in the AD&D era (1977-1987) = Gen X. My original and college gaming groups are all still alive. Admittedly, health issues are real for several of us in our 50’s, and I did lose a Millennial friend from the 3e era, but it’s not like there’s been a mass extinction of the AD&D 1e/Basic generation.

I can see the confusion though, as WotC famously in charts about who plays left a blank space for born 1965-1981. No one’s ever heard of them. :)
1E way outsold 2E, and Basic way outsold both. The numbers that have made it out suggest that 3E, 3.5 and 4E did not outdonthem...but 5E has done huge numbers.

Crawford did say recently thst until a few years ago, moat customers had started with 2E, however, so there might be a disconnect between books sold and when people were playing (lots of second hand copies, or piracy spreading 2E on the early Net?).
 

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