Words and Ideas

I had gotten really sick of the stuff on my I-tunes at work, so I’ve gone down the hill to Easy Street Records a couple of times lately to get some new music. Before I rip the CDs I always go in and change the genre entry. Most of the stuff I listen to is tagged “alternative & punk”. The thing is I’ve hated the term “alternative” since it first came into use in the 80s. It was this catch-all term for about anything that wasn’t on the radio and as such it was nearly useless. Saying something is alternative is only slightly more informative than saying it is music. Instead I change the genre entry to something more specific. This is most often punk but I also use psychobilly, postpunk, hardcore, ska, reggae, celtic punk, and a few others. This allows me to sort by genres that actually mean something instead of having one big morass.

It’s for similar reasons I don’t use the term “indie” in relation to roleplaying games. I mean sure, certain pedants have proved that you can define it so narrowly that only their anointed games and special exceptions “count”, but who are they trying to kid? By any reasonable definition 99% of all the RPGs ever published are “independent” and pretending otherwise creates a false dichotomy. If what people really mean is “small press” and/or “creator owned”, or if they want to identify themselves with a particularly community of designers, they should just say that. Right now saying something is indie is only slightly more informative than saying it’s a roleplaying game.

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