Old School GamingSomebody on Facebook asked, "what does 'old school gaming' mean?". Here's my response:
"Old School" is a buzzword that (to most self-professed old-school gamers) just means "Good". And there are as many definitions of what constitutes a 'good' tabletop RPG as there are tabletop role-players.
For some it's pure nostalgia for the olden days or for early editions of their personal favorite game system. For some it's a preference for simpler, sketchier, more primitive rules sets - never mind the fact that high levels of complexity started appearing in TTRPGs very early on in the hobby. For some it's a preference for story-oriented role-playing over 'winning'. For some it's an expression of distaste for new-fangled innovations like being able to build a specific character concept.
I had my first TTRPG experience back in the OD&D brown box days. I've played (and designed) many different systems since then. So at the risk of muddying the waters even further, here's my own take.
I reject pure nostalgia as 'good' because some later games are better written and more playable than some early ones. I reject the 'sketchier is better' view in favor of a recognition that while some simple systems are extremely powerful tools, others are a complete waste of paper. And usually, the more recent simple systems tend to be the better ones. I agree that in-game efforts to succeed (i.e., 'role-playing' or 'story') is a worthier goal than meta-level player success ('winning') - yet as a simulationist I also reject game systems with meta-level story mechanics. And I have no objection whatsoever to 'newfangled innovations', IF they are useful tools which promote the kind of RP/story-oriented simulationist play style that I prefer.