Who needs more stuff?Posted: August 3, 2011
My S.O. and I have been discussing getting another freezer for food storage — we are putting away vegetables from the garden for winter consumption. I have a spot for the new freezer chest in our ‘junk room’ but she will have to clear out a shelf of her books to make room for it. This, coupled with a few other home improvement projects that usually start with me trying to clear out the space in which the project takes place, makes me realize how much crap we own. It is a fucking nightmare.
I don’t think I’m a hoarder. I’m just often too lazy to make a decision about whether or not I ‘need’ something anymore — so I stuff it in a closet or stick it on a shelf and forget about it.
Inevitably, this leads to thoughts of, “If, by my own admission, I have too much stuff, why would I want to make more stuff?” And when I say “make more stuff,” I am thinking about making all of the books, drawings, paintings, etc., that I find myself involved in either as the primary creator or as a contributor. Variations on the theme of, “We already have more games/adventures/source materials/etc., than anyone can possibly use, so there is no point in making more,” seems to roll through the blog community or OSR discussion with the same regularity as the tide. And many who voice this criticism often share a single point: Who needs a clone when we still have the original?
Limited storage space aside, I think many people like making stuff. Not everyone has the same degree of creative drive and ambition; a few people might love a certain edition of a rulebook and want to make a few small changes, or rewrite things that they felt could have been more clearly stated. Everyone seems to be using computers and the internet to do this, so print-on-demand and .pdf have made publishing easy and cheap. Editing a text document on a computer and saving the changes is easy. Back when Gary Gygax was putting together Original D&D boxed sets in his basement, everything had to be typed up on a typewriter, then pasted out by hand, taken to the printers, folded, bound, etc. Expensive and time consuming. If you found a typo on page 4 sometime late in the game, more than likely you just said, “Fuck it — the readers will be houseruling the shit out of this anyway...” rather than redoing it.
I enjoy the creative enterprise (both on my own and in collaboration). Since most of the OSR producers are doing this for the joy of it, they don’t really need to spend all of their time worrying about, “What will the overwhelming number of consumers buy in order to make my OSR publishing venture as profitable as possible?” I suspect if OSR producers were really out to chase the dollar, they wouldn’t be in the OSR game anyway — more money is to be made creating the next ‘Angry Birds’ app or selling groups of ‘Potemkin’ followers on Twitter. When I look at many of the more ‘mainstream’ products on the game store shelves from the bigger companies like WOTC, I don’t feel tempted. I put a little bit of money in my pocket creating illustrations for a small number of publishers who are willing to pay me for my work, but it isn’t enough to live on… I have to do a lot of other things to make ends (barely) meet.