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Author Topic: History of Indie RPGs  (Read 3878 times)
Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« on: March 09, 2006, 02:14:02 PM »

Hello!

In a bit less than a month's time, I have the opportunity to participate in a radio programme broadcasted by one of the big stations of french-speaking Switzerland. The subject is going to be roleplaying-games.

The first hour, my friends and I will talk about the evolution of RPGs from birth to actual day. I would be in charge of giving a short talk about the indie scene, how it was born, how it evolved, what kind of viewpoints are defended, etc.
Having joined the Forge something like two years ago, I'm really at a loss regarding its history and that of other independent communities (if there are any at all), except for Ron's essays. I think I've got a good enough grasp of the actual state otherwise. I'll only be speaking 5-10 minutes anyway.

(The second hour we'll be hosting a live mini game, where listeners can call the show moderator and suggest input, followed by an open house round of questions about RPGs in general.  I'll probably do an AP report.)

So my question would be: where can I find the important info regarding the history of the indie scene, who are the really important guys, what where the marking events, etc. ?
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Regards,
Christoph
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2006, 09:17:08 AM »

That's a challenging question, and difficult to answer on several levels.

One problem is that there has always been an "indie" scene, but it took on a new form around '97-'98 when Ron Edwards published System Does Matter at Gaming Outpost. At that point, people such as Seth Ben-Ezra, Mike Holmes, Ralph Mazza, and I would hesitate to name too many more for fear of missing someone significant, started discussing and debating the concepts it presented. (I would like to think I contributed in some way then, but there were many people struggling with the core concepts.) This gave rise to a surge in game design that took many new and different turns, and subsequently to the discussions here at The Forge. On the other hand, the "indie" scene includes people who are not so much part of that. Multiverser was out before the article appeared, and Sorcerer was at least well in development if not available for download (it was originally e-published, but I don't know exactly when). Jared Sorenson, who was very much part of those discussions, has always eschewed any suggestion that he was part of any "indie" movement. There are certainly many people out there designing their own games who have never heard about The Forge or never thought it worth their time, and these cannot be excluded from the list. The RPG-create list has been going for quite a while, and many of those on it consider this corner of the gaming world to be elitist and overly artistic (or they did some years back when I tried to follow those discussions).

The problem with trying to get a handle on anything that is truly "indie" is that by its very concept it is disunited and varied.  Even when one speaks of trends, these are at best trends within pockets of the whole.

I don't know that this is helpful. If you want to see the early discussions behind those on this site, Gaming Outpost is the place to look; the Critical Hit archives will have many threads if you dig back to the late nineties.

--M. J. Young
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Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2006, 08:24:08 AM »

Thank you very much Michael for this information! I'll see what I can find at those places you suggest.
If anybody else has something to add, I'm very interested!
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Regards,
Christoph
MatrixGamer
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Posts: 582


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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2006, 09:28:32 AM »

Christoph

I would second MJ's point about the confused nature of what is Indie. I for one was not part of the Game Outpost discussions but was working on lines similar to Universalis just from a miniatures wargame background. I think what you can say firmly is that one of the effects of the Internet has been a boom in communication between designers from many backgrounds and a florishing of new design. PDF sales made possible for anyone with a computer and an idea able to put out a product. POD turns those files into paper. The technology is making a difference. And then there are those of us who do production in house (we're the crazy ones.) The world is still in a state of flux. On the "OgreCave" pod cast (that foucses on industry news) they are anticipating that soon some Forge developed Indie game or game using those ideas, will go mass market. What will happen then? Who knows.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
http://HamsterPress.net
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2006, 02:39:00 PM »

Good points Chris, thanks for that!
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Regards,
Christoph
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