Hear ye, hear ye! Monsters & Manuals is 1000 posts old. Hear ye!
That's right. 1000 posts. Since the blog's innocent and humble beginnings it has amassed somewhere in the region of 1.1 million page views and 11,175 comments. The most popular post by page views is this (thanks I think in large part to reddit); the most commented-on is this.
While I feel a great sense of gratitude for all the readers of the blog, especially those kind enough to comment, I do at the same time have a bitter-sweet feeling thinking back on the 7 1/2 years or so since the blog began. When I started writing this blog, it felt like we were just at the cusp of something. It was the spring of 2008. The world was young. Gary Gygax had recently died. D&D 4e was shortly to be released. I had recently discovered online discussion of RPGs, and was one of those people who was to some extent radicalised by these events - that, and by discussions taking place on rpg.net, therpgsite, blogs like Grognardia and web resources like Philotomy's Musings (now sadly defunct but resurrected here by the inimitable Ramanan Sivaranjan). It felt like something was happening. All you had to do to be a part of it was to start a blog and begin sharing.
Eventually people started talking about the "OSR". I never liked that expression and have never felt like part of it, if it was ever a movement at all. I prefer thinking of that period simply as an era in which people really started realising they could just do things for themselves, and were encouraging each other to do it. (Trailblazers like Ron Edwards and, later, James Raggi of course deserve special plaudits.)
I don't think I'm alone in thinking that a lot has changed since those days. Much of it for the better. There is a wealth of great stuff out there. People are producing work that simply never would have been conceived possible in the 1990s or earlier. RPGs are no longer dependent on an "industry" or gatekeepers. Talented people have opportunities they never would have previously.
And yet, and yet. The movement which some people call "the OSR" has matured, and with maturity enthusiasm becomes tempered into something more like appreciation. There is a lot out there that I appreciate. But the sense of excitement that I had in 2008 has largely disappeared. I like what is happening. I don't feel as energised by it as I did. Just like a relationship between two people mellows with time, so has my relationship with the cultural flowering that began in 2008. It's a part of my life, but has shifted away from its centre a little.
More specifically, I feel sad about blogging. Blogs are still being written, commented on, and read. But the discourse has moved in large part on to G+. Blogs already have the scent of "old tech" about them. They are being overtaken by trends which are visible everywhere: a movement towards the ephemeral, the sound-bitey, and the private. Blog posts are often long and nuanced, they are public, and they have a sense of permanence. G+ posts are short, punchy, and quickly forgotten, and they are confined to those who the writer wants them to be read by. I like G+ and can see its uses, but I see in it a tendency to argument and twitter-esque trading of hateful insults that has never been a major feature of RPG blogs and comments.
The halcyon days of 2008 are not long ago in the grand scheme of things, but in many ways it feels like another world. In some ways that's because a lot has happened in my own life since then (moving countries, marriage, natural disaster, the roller-coaster that is 7 years of an adult life); when I started the blog I was 27 and living and working as a translator in Japan - I'm now 34 and living and working as an academic in North East England. But I think even without all that personal change I'd still notice that there's a sense of cultural shift across that period, and that as with any major change things had been lost along the way. A sense of being part of something new, and a feeling that there was a great deal that needed to be said.