You have been dragged back in time and placed in the bodies of new characters, each of them a key player in the story of the Eladrin in the Estwild. The world has been spun back hundreds of years. Your characters are in a much different time with much different rules. But they are not the only ones who will travel back in time for this adventure. Each of you has also been taken back to 1974 and Original Dungeons and Dragons.Honestly, my opinion on the matter is a resounding shrug of disinterest. I simply can't get myself worked up about it, because, while I agree that Krahulik clearly doesn't understand the appeal of OD&D to those of us who play it, his lack of understanding arises out of ignorance rather than malice. The very fact that he's willing to give OD&D a look at all, even if it is a version he's purposefully de-fanged, speaks well of him and his curiosity about the past of the hobby. Likewise, his inclusion of a link to the S&W site is a very nice gesture and one that ought to give old school gaming a much wider exposure, even if I doubt that very many regular readers of Penny Arcade will be moved to throw off the yoke of modernity and embrace the Old Ways.
At the same time, I also think it's a bit silly to suggest that old schoolers need to "pretty themselves up" and start "behaving" for the benefit of the drive-by surfers who follow Krahulik's link into the wider world of the OSR. Grognards are, by definition, a cranky, disgruntled, and often irrational lot; this has always been so. The older guys who hung out at The Compleat Strategist in downtown Baltimore were a cantankerous bunch too, looking askance at snot-nosed kids like me who were violating the sanctity of their hidden fastnesses in the wake of roleplaying's faddish popularity. And while I thought many of them weird -- because, let's face it, they were weird -- I didn't expect them to change their grumpy ways on my account.
In time, we built up a rapport and I learned a lot from them and their experiences, but that rapport was achieved only by accepting and understanding them and their eccentricities, not by their catering to the tender sensibilities of tyros such as myself. This is as true in 2010 as it was in 1982. Anyone not currently plugged into the online old school scene who wants to see what it's all about is going to have to be prepared to wade through a lot of rancor, grouchiness, and occasionally vitriol; that's just the nature of the beast. Anyone who's so aggrieved by this that, upon first encountering it, flees for the hills probably ought to avoid the Internet in general, never mind its old school enclave.
I really don't think we do anyone any favors by being more "open" or "welcoming" -- in short being other than who and what we are. And what we are -- many of us anyway -- is a bunch of guys and gals who think old games are no less fun today than they were in the past. A lot of us get understandably miffed when it's implied, if not outright stated, that gaming has "evolved" since the games we play were first published and that somehow the fun we think we're having with these old games is either unreal or not as great as it could be, if we only cast aside the past and embraced Progress. The old school renaissance is, in part, a defiant rejection of that thesis and I for one make no bones about that. If that offends any newcomers, chances are good they were little more than tourists anyway and we lose nothing by simply being who we are, without apologies.
Does the old school community need new blood in order to prosper? You betcha. I love seeing new blogs and sites spring up, each one created by someone who somehow managed to see past all the "negativity" and "dogmatism" and has come to appreciate the Old Ways -- and old gamers -- on their own terms. Old school gaming will never prove popular with most people, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Consequently, there's little to gain by "putting on a good face" if that face isn't reflective of who we really are. We may not be pretty but we are sincere and it's that sincerity, however irritably it's often shown, that reveals our true face to those willing to take the time to look beneath the surface.