Something I'd like to emphasize about that whole series of postings is that it's me writing about my own aesthetics, not prescribing for anybody. When I say that current fantasy games seem childish to me, that's not really an invitation to analyze and draw lines about what's appropriate and what's not for a product in general - you can see my grappling with this conversational angle in the comment threads. I think that I can very well say that these particular products strike me as childish without having to defend my sense that fantasy games used to be more sensible earlier at the same time. Although, I have to say, I do have a hankering to write more about how I perceive old '80s fantasy games and their influence in Finnish fantasy aesthetics - it seems to me a bit that I'm not connecting with the American audience with all those short-hands that make immense sense to Finnish readers. The whole American phenomenon of very... computer gamey and monty-haulish, cliche-derivative fantasy roleplaying is something I only learned about in the late '90s, after playing for years with a much more setting/character-based focus. Perhaps that's why I also interpret old D&D stuff in terms of how it's more similar to how Finnish fantasy games usually are instead of how it's similar to modern D&D - which might be why my sense that old D&D is different from current D&D aesthetically is not shared by folks who actually played D&D when they were 12 years old; they see the similarities, I see the differences.
I was one of those 12 yr olds. We never really bothered to read the rules in Basic/Expert AD&D. I remember using character creation, monsters, the gods, treasure tables, and modules...but I didn't even bother to read the rules until long after I'd quit playing. Oh, we used THACO, that's about it.
3.0 found us all grown up and eager to learn the rules and play by the book for several reasons: they were new, we didn't want to "cheat" and we were all new to each other...so we felt like we needed the rules to "play by the book"
I think it really hit me when we started to use mini rules. When the minis really started to come out in force, I realized we were playing a very different game than the ones of my youth. Less social interaction/development...much more combat.
Eero, I like how you pointed out the he/she issue in the text, as well as the "gender-neutral" depiction of females in the game. I thought the style artwork was a nice break from the past (seemed to incorporate more modern notions than medieval) and the whole thing really felt more Fantasy than Sword and Sorcery.
I think you're very right, though. What we have today is far, far different than what I grew up with. In many ways it plays a lot more like a WoW or Diablo than anything I remember from the past.