At the start of the fall semester since 1998, Beloit College posts a list of cultural touchstones that “have always been” for the newest class of college freshmen. It gives perspective on the passage of time and rate of culture change to realize that for some people, McDonald’s has always served Happy Meals in China, or that Freddie Mercury has always been dead.
In that spirit, using the admittedly arbitrary cut-off date of 1997, because twelve is a common age in the typical “my first game experience” conversation, here are some things that have always been true for younger gamers:
- Card games have always been collectible.
- There has always been a world of gothic punk darkness — and Sam Haight has always been dead.
- Drizzt has always been the most recognized face of the Forgotten Realms.
- Polyhedral dice have always come with the numbers already inked.
- Illuminati has always come with cardboard money tokens.
- Gary Gygax had always published some things independently of TSR.
- There have always been diceless roleplaying games.
- The Settlers of Catan has always been played.
- The Sony PlayStation and other consoles have always competed with tabletop games for time and attention.
- The World of Synnibar has always been available to serve as the butt of jokes.
My knowledge is, as always, imperfect, and my research limited to what I could find via Google, so please alert me to any inaccuracies. And if you have any items to add to the list, do so in the comments.