As is often the case in our little corner of the Web, there's a new topic du jour and this time it's the "marketing of the old school renaissance" -- how is it that so few gamers understand what a retro-clone is or why they exist, etc.? In short, why are there still so many misapprehensions about the old school movement? Two good examples of bloggers cogitating on these and related questions can be found here and here.
Speaking only for myself, such questions don't really concern me. As a player (and occasional producer) of old school games, I'm pretty happy with the way things are at present. As others have amply demonstrated, there's more of the kind of gaming materials I prefer being produced now than there has been in years, so many in fact that I can't keep up with them all. Better still, the variety of these materials is large enough that there are many I simply have no interest in -- and that's actually a good thing, because it suggests that old schoolers' tastes are no more identical today than they were in the old days.
Beyond that, though, I've been pretty consistent in my belief that most attempts to get old school games more widely recognized and played would inevitably repeat the history of TSR, which isn't something I have much interest in seeing. I don't want "old school" treated as a brand or used to attract large numbers of gamers disaffected with the current flavor of the month to our "banner." I'm quite happy living in a nice, quiet, out of the way neighborhood surrounded by folks similarly happy, even those crazy guys down the street who are into woodworking with power tools at odd hours of the night.
I won't speak for anyone else, but a big part of what appeals to me about the old school movement is its kicking "the industry" to the curb and focusing instead on one and two-man operations producing stuff out of a passion for the hobby rather than a laser focus on the bottom line. If outsiders take an interest in any of this stuff, good for us, but that's not what I think this is all about, which is why I won't wring my hands worrying about the fact that the wider gaming world doesn't understand the difference between Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry, assuming they've even heard of either.
That's not to say I wouldn't be very happy if a retro-clone or old school product managed to sell thousands of copies or if the Old Ways were suddenly adopted on a wider basis. But I'd prefer that such an outcome, if it's even possible, occur organically rather than as a result of a concerted business plan on the part of some company or organization. I like the chaotic, confusing, and occasionally off-putting little world we've carved for ourselves. Others are welcome to enter it and I'm always happy to answer sincere questions to help them do so, but I have zero interest in making it more "accessible" or "welcoming" by changing the very things I like most about it.
My feeling is that gamers are savvier than we give them credit for. The ones who have a genuine interest in old school gaming can already pretty easily find the sites and the products they want without the need for marketing. It's not as if we're hiding ourselves from view -- quite the contrary! Are we, by and large, an eccentric, cantankerous bunch? No doubt, but that's a feature rather than a bug and if it discourages some newcomers, such is life. Just about any community passionately devoted to any hobby is going to appear eccentric and cantankerous to others not similarly passionate. This is what the hobby was like when I entered into it 30 years ago and I expect it's the way it will be 30 years hence. That's not going to change no matter how one chooses to market these games we all love.
So, speaking only for myself, I'd be perfectly happy if the old school renaissance didn't attract legions of new players, if doing so means diluting the things I value most about it. History has already shown us what happens when a company makes that particular deal with the Devil. Why would we want to make that same mistake now?