Disputorium > English

Byte-sized Tolkien, hmmm

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Arminius:
http://www.history.ubc.ca/documents/faculty/booker/byte-sized_middle_ages.pdf

This article seems to have some traction judging by the number of links I've found to it.

Unfortunately I can't see a good reason why other than the author's credentials and a provocative claim used to frame the narrative. The story told itself is pretty good for footnote-raiding; wrong in a few details (and glaringly missing reference to Braunstein); overall not much you couldn't find on few gamer web pages and blogs.

Nitpicking aside, what strikes me is the thesis that:

1. Tolkien begat D&D which begat Adventure which begat modern 3D-graphics-style video games, which then served as the inspiration for the look & action-style of the LotR movies

2. Kids these days think that the Middle Ages were like Tolkien, therefore like a video game (apparently of the fight-cutscene-fight variety), and also devoid of religion.

The first part of the thesis seems to ignore the fact that everything looks like a video game these days, and it has nothing to do with fantasy. Not to mention that the evolutionary link between RPGs and fighter/shooter video games isn't so obvious.

The second part may or may not be true, I don't know, but very little evidence is, er, evident in the article.

Settembrini:
1. Tolkien and the CS mindset are at odds!
2. Tolkien and the CS mindset are at odds!
3. Tolkien and the CS mindset are at odds!

NB: machines

Arminius:
Just back from The Desolation of Smaug? ;)

Even if they are at odds it's possible that CS could mold Tolkien to its image. Which is basically the argument of the article.

Now, with some distance after reading--and also with this article on Chris Crawford buzzing around, I'm feeling a little more charitable. There isn't a straight line from RPG to modern video game genres but I think it's true that the audiences have always overlapped significantly, and many of the pioneering designers had RPG experience. But that's a history of geek culture, and GC wasn't spawned by Tolkien or D&D, even though they were influences and entry-points.

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