White Dwarf

It Wasn’t Desperately Needed

From White Dwarf #89, pg 54; image from @DailyDwarf

Last night I was on twitter when I ran across this post from @DailyDwarf that highlighted a dissatisfied customer who was reviewing the recent TSR, Inc. publication Unearthed Arcana (1985). What got my attention was the line:

English is not what’s in a dictionary but rather the living language of most people. Writers of dictionaries are eventually forced to accept this and rewrite their books.


That line better encapsulates why editions change over time than any other I’ve ever seen – though I doubt Mr. Miles would appreciate that conclusion. Over time the game changes as players perspectives on what “good” and “acceptable” change with each generation. So if the writers of role-playing games would like to sell more books then they are forced to rewrite their game, just as dictionaries are rewritten to reflect changes in usage, so that they can reflect the mode of the day.

It’s definitely something to think about as role-playing games are continuing to rise in popularity and we’re seeing a wider audience seeking to join the hobby.

Works Cited

Miles, Allan. “Arcana or Errata” WHITE DWARF Magazine #89. Games Workshop Ltd., 1987. pg 54


4 thoughts on “It Wasn’t Desperately Needed”

  1. A small, vocal minority should not be allowed to dictate what other people can think, believe, say, or write.

    We have seen in the past year the dictionary definitions of words changed for political reasons. That’s not democratic or supporting of liberty. It’s an attempt by the very few to enforce their norms onto the many.


  2. You wrote: “Over time the game changes as players perspectives on what “good” and “acceptable” change with each generation.” Surely you can’t be saying that wasn’t political?


    1. It absolutely was not political.

      The way that we play role-playing games has changed both through innovation and through what the majority of players find as acceptable methods of play over time. For example, at one time it was okay to have descending AC; today few players would find such a choice acceptable. This isn’t a political discussion but an acknowledgement of reality.

      And before you ask, the way to determine what the majority of players what is determined by sales. If a company does something that the majority of people find abhorrent the game will not sale. If the innovations and changes to the game are appealing to the majority of the players then the game will beat sales goals as D&D 5e has done.

      None of this involves politics.


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