Saturday, February 23, 2013

Conversations with Rob Kuntz on Youtube

Ernie Gygax and myself playing Stratego many, many years ago.  This was the only game I could beat his father at for the first year of our playing games between us in Lake Geneva.   Thereafter I began earning my stripes at 14 years of age!  :)

Part 1 of a multi-part series.  I was really tired and just recovering from a cold and we had had two false starts days prior with internet problems forcing rescheduling both times.  Martin is a great interviewer--the Charlie Rose of RPGs...


  1. Off to my weekly D&D game shortly, but looking forward to watching this later today. Fantastic photo Rob. :-)

  2. Hi TS!

    Thanks David. Enjoy your game and the video!

  3. Hi Rob. I watched the interview. Thought it was great. I hope you and Martin have got together for few more, or will do do in future. I am in the second year of writing a book on the history of D&D. You have just prompted a chapter rewrite. Great info from an era of the game that seems to have so many different accounts, and some which seem hopelessly inaccurate. Thanks for doing it.

  4. Hiya Torq.

    Thanks for the kudos. We will commence w/the series again as time permits. We have no range estimate for the parts, so this will continue until I am exhausted, I suppose. There's lot to cover in culling and expressing my 45 years in two industries/hobbies and such.

    A history of D&D. History is a fine thing if it informs us of changes that can occur from it. Otherwise it only informs us of what was and not what it could be. There are subtle changes in this particular industry, not always noticeable on the surface which, in the latter case, is what the majority of the viewers of it are concerned with. By and by, this incrementalism solidifies belief systems which are then circulated as truths. Good scholarly work is difficult in this environment, as the facts become obscured or hidden, or worse, are presented with a sheen that entices one to believe. Why? Keep asking why... This more often exposes the truth in such matters as inspected, that is, once you have a greater grounding in those areas that are not contradictory and that relate to the inquisition of said subjects.

    If I can be of any small assistance in your endeavor, let me know.

    In between, happy and fruitful researching and enjoy the videos.


  5. Thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.

  6. Rob (and Martin) -- thanks so much for taking the time to do that video. It's full of fascinating stuff. The history is, of course, interesting, but I always find your thoughts (Rob) on design theory of greatest significance.

    They remind me of something I'm preparing for class tomorrow, something written over 160 years ago by John Ruskin:

    [When we hold people to the same set of unerring rules or standards] we unhumanize them. . . . Let them but begin to imagine, to think, to try to do something worth doing: and the engine-turned precision is lost at once. Out comes all his roughness, all his dullness . . . but out comes the whole majesty of him also.

    He felt (as you intimate) that commercialism and capitalism seem to demand this kind of lock-step regulation. If indulged, Ruskin claims our souls wither within. However, I would add, structure of some kind is also necessary in any creative endeavor. Structure can even (paradoxically) be liberating: Wordsworth in "Nuns fret not" discusses this, just as much as CS Lewis does in his theories about free will and Christian obedience. Without structure you get Blake's Jerusalem or (as you said to me years ago), just a kind of parlor game.

  7. Valuable thoughts as always, Mark. The human language often fails to describe what is right before the minds-eye. I believe children capture that in play; and there is a high road from there that points back to a re-genesis of it in RPGs. I've seen it, experienced it, and have helped others discover it for themselves. It's not the structure, it's the form. You can never have too much form; but too much structure leads to formula. It's not a balancing act between the two in published rules, it's an individual choice as imposed or not through choice. But, interceding all too often is when inorganic processes conflate with volition and start the process of mechanization, all very "acceptable" these days but to children playing in the yard, it seems.

  8. This is going to be an interesting and worthwhile run of video's when complete, but I must point out something that nags at me.

    The questions are rather 'beaten path' variety for those who have searched for these answers before. If you are new to these historical searches then you will enjoy the video. Surely, only Rob can answer some of them. Maybe this is the point of the interview?

    I do not know the questions I want asked, or else I would ask him myself. Yet, still, there seems to be a yearning by Rob to breakout out of some of these questions and run gaming philosophical, process & rut pitfalls, and perhaps how to capture authentic play. Playing. Not some strict form noted on paper and hoping the results are open ended - as if this is what was meant all along. What should have happened or could be next?

    I may be wrong but I think Rob has a gaming axe to grind and would go'Gallagher,' if only he had both a hammer and the modern model in hand.

    Just my opinion/observation and no slights intended. Waiting for more vids!

    Seen on a wargame blog - 'Maturity consists in having rediscovered the seriousness one had as a child at play.' - Nietzsche

    Time to get serious.

  9. Hallo Chris!

    Are you going to NTX this year? We can talk about your Q's then if you do. :)

    No axe to grind here, just history and thoughts to share. My design/philosophical approach is multi-disciplinary, so too will be the results.

    Folks can take them and leave them. Once thoughts wander forth and about, they are no longer mine, and I have no expectations regarding them either way.

    This was an "Intro" video, I hope you noted. What might be passe, or known, to you is not so for many, many others. Judging by the reactions/comments, there were a few or more eyes opened, which is good, as that usually means that the mind is open, as well.

    The videos will get more specific. Martin is working full time and I am bound for Garycon in less than a week, so this has slowed the pace, this and him getting food poisoning and ending up in the hospital for several days. :( We will continue posting these and have in fact concluded the matter for the next and all that remains os for us is to solidify schedules in order to do it post- convention; and this can be trying considering the time zone differences, as both of us are finding out.

    Do consider posting a question on Youtube as we are gathering those for a session and hope to get enough to do so.

    "Serious is as serious does." -- Robert J. Gump

    Later Gator!