A big discussion has erupted over at Grognardia. James opened a can of worms when he stated that "old school" is not just a feeling but something more tangible, and some very differing attitudes were revealed amongst the readers. I posted some of my own thoughts, and after doing so I wonder if I made myself clear. Sometimes when someone posts something which makes the cogs and wheels turn it takes awhile for it to run it course even though I often have to put it to print before that can happen. I decided to take another stab at it.
I think my way of arguing was really fuzzy! Old school is something tangible, but it is not a usable term in a discussion amongst two parts who don't know the intricacies of their opponents taste. Fairly useless, in most cases.
Matt Finch probably focuses on the key issue, that term old school is a loose term to ground any extended argument on. It falls apart. It's a phenomena.
So, I still content the thesis that system does matter for a specific feel or effect. If there are things you claim are essential for that elusive feeling you think is essential for old school you'd better use a system to support that.
Maybe the best way to think and talk about it all is to state clearly what one is talking about instead of slapping on a un-precise and so loaded a term as "old school". I probably will do it sometimes anyway, when I think people know what I mean by that.
To dismiss another gamer as an old nostalgic coot or a brash whippersnapper without respect for the forefathers, are both unjust and unfair. We game to have fun, all of us. Some of us are way to fond of delineations and demarcations, and plays the "definition game" too often. Let's discuss what we like and why. Sometimes we toss around labels so much they lose their meaning.