A thread over on the RPGsite brought up the question of whether old school gaming's primary appeal was that it dealt with a mythical "golden age" of gaming, when all was right with the world and stuff.
Captain Rufus made an excellent comparison that I felt applies perfectly to my own view of old school gaming. To whit:
Heck, I discovered classic rock in the early 90s as the pop radio I was
mostly listening to just became nothing but shit. R&B, lame love songs, and
Rap sucked ass to me for the most part. And this station I had heard on the bus
to school was playing some really good music. Zeppelin, the Doors, Pink Floyd.
It wasn't nostalgia. I hadn't heard most of these songs. My mom only had country
on at home, and I didn't hear much music at friend's houses either. I discovered
greatness LATER. It was awesome stuff I was deprived of, much of which came out
before I was even born.
I couldn't agree with anaology more, since I had the exact same exprience, both with classic rock and classic gaming. I started with the Mentzer Red Box, but never actually ran any games with it; just made up characters and dungeons. It wasn't until I "bought into" AD&D that I started gaming with actual people, and by that point 2nd edition had come out. So I missed the old school boat pretty much entirely. But there was something about those articles I'd read in the back issues of Dragon from the 80s that really appealed to me...
Similarly, although I'd had a bit of exposure to classic rock by dint of my Dad's career, I still listened primarily to contemporary music until I discovered classic rock radio in the early 90s (back when such stations still played a somewhat varied playlist...) and, later, classic punk rock.
Today, the only contemporary acts I tend to listen to are bands that preserve somewhat the sound, flavor, and spirit of classic rock bands. I was listening to one such band, Danava, on the way to work this morning when it struck me that this whole "new hard rock" movement is really pretty much the equivalent of the old school retro-clones! So the analogy has come full-circle. Although some might accuse bands like Danava, Witchcraft, or Wolfmother of living in the past, I think most people who listen to and appreciate these sorts of bands would agree that they're simply revisiting a sound that was needlessly sacrificed at the altar of "creative progress," discovering old sounds and making them fresh and new again. So too do I view retro-clones and the Old School Renaissance.
And because this post needs more Danava, we leave off with a video whose rock is inversely proportionate to the level of shirts, as one commenter on YouTube astutely observed: