Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Gaming's Non-Gaming Seeds...

Games inspire games, especially fifty years on. There's a whole industry catering to the hobbyist's every potential need; but no one's born a gamer, however enthusiastic they become a few delves in (going by my experience). No, it all begins with any number of non-gaming influences seeding our beautifully fertile ground. Feeling nostalgic, here are mine, ranked in rough order and all from the 1970s when the hobby was born:

(1) Rankin/Bass Hobbit. Here was a colorful look at a world of dwarves, elves, and humans unlike anything I'd seen before. I have no regrets that this was my first Tolkien...

(2) Famous Monsters of Filmland. A great magazine! You got deep dives into pretty much everything from Bela Lugosi to Harryhausen. Fandom began in its pages.

(3) DC Horror Comics. House of Mystery, House of Secrets; this was usually modern horror stuff with trademark ironic endings, which nonetheless delivered a fantasy feeling.

(4) Marvel Monster Titles. Think Where Creatures Roam - or Monsters Dwell. The emphasis was on Jack Kirby monsters enough to stock a modern gaming sourcebook.

(5) Star Wars (Chapter 4, exclusively). Forget the tech; this was a fantasy film. 

(6) Planet of the Apes (original films and comics/merchandise). A sci-fi future where humans and non-humans shared a tense coexistence. Another early fandom.

(7) Aurora Movie Monster Models. Dracula, The Salem Witch; these glow-in-the-dark kits instilled a love of (and expectation for) hands-on customization of my own monsters.

(8) Land of the Lost (the 1970s series). Marshall, Will and Holly...and a world of Sleestaks, dinosaurs, and proto-humans I swear was inspired by someone's D&D game.

(9) My Grandfather's Encyclopedias. Pre-internet, this was how you looked information up; and I delighted in its mythology. A perfect fit for gaming's pseudo-academic methods.    

(10) Late-Night/Weekend Creature Features. Damn I'm old! Before cable, you bought TV Guide and waited days on end for these goodies to hit your local UHF station.

All I can suggest is to look this stuff up. Some is timeless (Star Wars, anyone), with modern relevance while others are quite obscure in an age where the "big two" comic publishers cater to superheroes and the internet's gobbled up the magazines. Google's gateway to porn likewise opens to some (not-quite-forgotten) remnants worth the effort to excavate.

I started gaming on the cusp of its breakout success (1978), where it quickly became self-referential and internally driven. But the seeds of interest in this stuff were planted as I painted models (doubtless huffing a little glue in the process) and poured over an assortment of comics and magazine articles carefully curated by yours truly. It was a golden age of storybook innocence and a growing community - and budding fandom - looking for a voice.


  1. I have a lot of the same influences. Not so much #6, but all the rest.

    1. Cool! There's a common thread among us older geeks...