So... I have to admit that sometimes I feel like a kid trying to play poker with dad and his friends. I've been gaming for 17 years or so, only about half the length of time the hobby has been around. When I started, AD&D was already in it's 2nd edition (although relatively recently, only two years or so) and the boxed sets of yesteryear had been replaced by the Rules Cyclopedia. I missed out on the roots of the hobby, and learned about the classics (Gamma World, Traveller, Tunnels & Trolls, etc) only through research and a few hand-me-downs. Champions was already on a fourth edition when I jumped into the ring (summer after 8th grade). I seem to have just missed the second generation of gaming.
As such, I feel somewhat unqualified for being passionate about the way things "used to be," since I caught only a shadow of that. I have fond memories of checking out the AD&D 1st Edition DMG over and over again from the public library. I learned old school gaming second hand, from funny smelling books with yellowed pages. Still, I feel like I can never be a true "old guard" or "grognard" or anything else like that.
...and yet, I feel a strong urge to return to the fleeting glimpses of what I saw when I was a child, reading everything I could about this strange and fascinating hobby that has ended up consuming so much of my time since then. I tried to read Holmes' Fantasy Role-Playing Games when I was ten, for chrissakes. And here I am, so many years later, reading Grognardia and Lamentations of the Fire Princess and The Tao of D&D and so on and hoping that I can add something to the discussion. Maybe I wasn't there for the true Olden Days, but I do feel a connection to them, and to the days when I used painted and customized Lego men because I had no allowance and had no way of procuring miniatures, the days when I would just make shit up if I couldn't find it in the rule book without any worries about "balance" or something being "broken" (a term I hate with a fiery passion, by the by)
For the time being, I'll just keep reading and blogging and hopefully playing.