Because of my renewed interest in old school games, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time reading blogs from others who have a similar passion. Naturally, I’ve come across a lot of different opinions on gaming, which has not only kick-started my creativity, but has actually rekindled my interest in those who actually play RPGs as well.
Now that the hobby has been around for the better part of 40 years I wonder if it isn’t time to find out more about the people who play from a public history perspective. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to outline a project to conduct a series of oral histories with gamers (both young and old, hopefully), to see if I can’t build a narrative of (among other things):
What initially drew people to the hobby?
How did they get involved?
What systems do they play?
How has gaming changed/influenced other aspects of their lives?
In an effort to better understand the history of the games themselves and perhaps get a better sense of how the very act of playing has evolved over time.
For those who don’t know me offline, I should add that I spend my professional life as a research librarian, specializing in Holocaust and genocide studies. As part of that focus, I wind up working with an enormous number of oral history recordings and, to a lesser extent, written testimonies of survivors. So, even though I’m an enthusiastic gamer, I will be approaching this with a great deal of professional experience as well.
I’ve only just begun to construct a framework for this project but I envision it being recorded (digital audio) with a host of predetermined questions ranging from basic biographical information to specific questions about the hobby itself. Not unlike most oral history projects, the purpose is to pull out similarities and differences between interviewees in order to construct a permanent record of those involved. I’ll be providing greater details on this project, including a call for those who are interested in participating, as I piece it together over the next couple of weeks.