In our righteous defense of "simplicity," some of us in the old school movement, myself chief among them, have given the impression that any kind of mechanical complexity is both unwarranted and unwanted. I know that this is so because I've often seen outsiders to our little echo chamber think, based on a reasonable but mistaken reading of our various discussions, that "old school = rules lite."
Now, it's certainly true that while many old school games, such as LBB-only OD&D, would likely qualify as rules lite under many contemporary definitions, it's not OD&D's relative lack of rules that draws its proponents toward it but rather the kinds of rules it includes and the way those rules are presented. Conversely, many games I'd unhesitatingly call old school, such as Chivalry & Sorcery, aren't rules lite by any means (and even AD&D is fairly complex by most definitions).
In reflecting on my experiences with Rolemaster, I realized that it wasn't really the inclusion of lots of charts that made it so difficult for me to play. Rather, it was my unfamiliarity with those charts. I have known many ardent players of Rolemaster and most of them didn't think much of my claim that the game is "unplayable." Ditto for fans of DragonQuest. In both cases, what I often heard was some variation on "once you get the hang of it, it's really not so bad." I used to think that was self-serving nonsense, intended to brush off my criticisms without actually addressing them. Now, I'm not so sure.
I'm not so sure because many of the games I played regularly as a kid, like AD&D as I mentioned above, are in fact quite chart-heavy and intimidating to people who aren't familiar with their rules. And yet I'd defy the opinion of anyone who claimed, with a straight face, that 1e was "unplayable" because of its charts, matrices, and many lists: "Once you get the hang of it, it's really not so bad." In fact, many of those charts, while assuredly off-putting at first glance, serve double duty as rules references and rules explications. AD&D's combat charts, for example, really helped me as a younger person to conceptualize the levels of "fighting-ness" of the various classes, which probably explains why I never really bought into the "thief-as-combat-god" notion so many gamers seem to have these days.
Now, I can certainly sympathize with gamers who dislike charts or find them impediments to their enjoyment of a game. I have lots of little hang-ups about which I feel the same way, so I know exactly what that's like. But there are gamers for whom charts aren't a problem and indeed for whom they're of genuine assistance. Likewise, for certain kinds of games, charts are even a necessity, helping to make them simpler to play than one might think at first glance. Nowadays, those types of games aren't my cup of tea, broadly speaking, but I have played and enjoyed such games in the past and -- who knows? -- I may do so again in the future.
Charts and matrices are no better or worse than any other rules presentations in absolute terms and, situationally, I've often found them a positive boon. So, I'll be doing my level best to resist my current instinct to recoil upon seeing them. Charts have been with us since the beginning of the hobby and they're a salutary method of presenting information in a compressed fashion. Like everything, they're a tool and they have their place. To suggest otherwise is to demonstrate precisely the kind of close-mindedness for which old schoolers are often criticized. Speaking only for myself, I'm going to try to be more tolerant of charts and tables and remember well that they have as much claim to being old school as the simplicity so many of us laud these days.