Sunday, July 17, 2016

A New Ethos in Game Design: The Paradigm Shift Originated by Dungeons & Dragons, 1972-1977

To Be Released 2017

As many people and communities throughout the Internet are aware I have been steadily adding chapters to a book that I undertook researching and writing 8 years ago, actually now almost 9 years, in fact.  It is now approaching 200,000 words and with 20 diagrams; and my projection for its release has been amended several times due to moves (first to Wichita, then to France), the releasing of my DVD Collection (a long project started in Illinois, continued in Wichita and finished in France), and to my marriage to my wife Nathalie Hachet-Kuntz.  Though slowed in bringing the book to immediate release due to all of these life-changing and, ultimately, happy life circumstances indeed, I am now on track to finishing it.

This book is a culmination of over 42+ years of being actively exposed to game design and game theory and in combining this with my research to achieve a goal:  To discover the true essence of the RPG concept and, moreover, to describe it in scientific terms to allow for its continued expansion in many ways.  The book intersects many disciplines, such as game design, game theory, play theory, cognitive science and systems thinking, to name a few.  In my estimation I believe that I have achieved my goal; and I am in the process of fleshing out the details of it as gathered through reading and referencing 50+ major texts, over 200 related articles and from my copious notes, a copy of the latter which is being held for me by my close friend and associate, Allan Grohe.  I have also had in-depth discussions and readings by me of  the ms with Allan Grohe and Jon Hershberger (Black Blade Publishing), Paul Stormberg (the Collectors Trove) and of course my wife Nathalie.  I have also extensively sampled its parts for all of the above named and my wife retains a full back-up and is one of the editors assigned to the project.

In essence, this is my grand opus, so to speak.  It is not only a culmination but a beginning, just as Arneson's concept was for game history and for the theories he espoused.

My current book (the manuscript is finished and we are about 2 months out, if not sooner, from releasing it) is entitled Dave Arneson's True Genius; and it is not only a send-up to Dave Arneson but is an in-depth study of what Arneson gifted to us:  his genius.  It is also a shot across the bow for A New Ethos in Game Design, the former being a solid prelude of it that will include samples from this much larger companion work.

With all good news comes a rumor which I am tracking for its origin and that a text similar to mine in kind is now being prepared, this after I recently went public and put myself on the radar at several forums in stating my purpose.  

Though just a rumor at present I cannot but now feel delighted, if it has any basis in fact, that someone might join the scientific fray by way of attempting to ride my coat-tails whereas no such wind was in the air prior to my recent announcements.  Rumors are what they are, and I also claim no right of way to be the only one to pursue such a course as I have partially described herein; and since science is science and historically it seems that the advantage therein not only lies with the true thinker but sometimes with the hasty doer who would forward a cause based upon ego and denial rather than truth and the patience of a scholar who reads first and then decides upon matters worthy or not of the pen.

Whether folks in this hobby care to notice or even to admit this behavior--and as paraded in the past as fact and not as rumor as in this case--it is pretty entrenched in RPG's history.  It derives explicitly from the split between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, the resultant obfuscation of facts due to out of court settlements, and the continued marginalization of Arneson's real contributions due to that.  This attitude has desisted in large part to a norm which is now promoted less virulently but more remotely.  "Historians" who do not quote living persons associated with that era have come forward to paper over the past with the "truth".  They have their own interpretations based upon non-primary sources, which are the actual people themselves who are excluded from such "scholarship."

My research is based upon my experiences from not only historical texts, my own 42+ years of involvement starting at the pre-dawn on this industry/hobby, as someone who has witnessed the great majority of primary shifts that caused its rise; and by participating with those primary and secondary people--living history--who were there.  I have taken the high road of real scholarship in stating facts as I know them to be and have left interpretation aside which has no place in science or history as even provisional truth.  Therefore it is of interest in all the many books that have come forth as of recent regarding D&D's and TSR's past that very few primary people from that time period have been asked to participate in their formation, and apparently fewer still are solicited if they do not fit onto a certain narrowly defined output so apparent from these books.  

One might ask the whys about this--and many have.  To my knowledge there have been countless redirections to myself--and endless other redirections to primary people associated with that history--by secondary people who were being asked primary questions.  Of those redirections I can only speak for myself directly:  nothing came from them.  The secondary source's recommendations to enquire of the primary source, myself in this case, were ignored.  In three cases to date my name occurs in the same number of printed works and in many instances. In every case I have not been asked a single question regarding contextual use or to verify such uses as fact.  In one case I was not even aware that the book was just about to be released in two weeks time.  I can only assume that this form of exclusionary approach holds true for other living persons from that time period who are referenced within these works. 

Expediency has no place in scholarship no matter the subject. This sort of careless approach can speak to many outcomes but never to truthful reporting.

There is no doubt that the end-use reader has the final verdict with all such matter, and as often compared to similar works--but that they should be from the very onset given a clear picture based upon equally researched views that are verifiable and attributable and not in the least bit "interpretable" is what defines properly executed research.  Minus this we are left with a hodge-podge of interpretations which become voided as opinions.

You have my guarantee that my own works have not, nor will not, proceed along such a marginal course as I have described above.  The LGTSA (Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association) cut their teeth on intensive research time and again and within overlapping and multiple subject areas.  It was part and parcel of my own existence as its membered president--now 47 years removed but not forgotten.


  1. Nine years . . . you procrastinator! LOL

    Looking forward to its release, Rob.

  2. Yeah. That would appear to be the truth if it were not for the complexity of the subject matter and all of the research and writing done to date. :) Books of this type, as I quickly found out (I had two false starts with it due to "voice" and "time" and "sectionalizing" issues, among some others) just don't write themselves like a module. Within it I am also presenting a pre-theory, as I came to realize that what was before me had never been modeled... This is a painstakingly researched work of the scholarly kind far exceeding current offerings on the market.

  3. A grand achievement based on your holistic research methodologies, education, and preferential insight into the subject matter!

  4. Has this work been published yet?