Disputorium > English

Byte-sized Tolkien, hmmm



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.

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

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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