I'm sure most of us have read Luke's thread over on G+ about BWHQ's experience playing D&D. Elsewhere he posted what I read as uh...frustration with opening up this conversation to the general public, mostly in the vein of hating on the "it's all about the magic of the DM" and "rules don't matter" commentary. At least that's how I read it.
So let's talk about the thread but only sort-of in public!
After noodling on the thread for a few days I have a couple takeaways:
1, which I mentioned to Buzz already: I think we're super-lucky he didn't attempt this investigation prior to any version of BW, because I think BW would then have been designed more as a direct response to D&D than it is. Which is to say, pretty much not at all: BW reads and plays to me like the result of a game of Telephone, where the first person describes what D&D looks like at the table, the next person describes how Shadowrun works, a third person takes those first two and filters it through a lit crit and/or screenwriting class, and 30 people later you end up with BWClassic. So, yay. Good timing and providence.
2 hits on the whole theme of sentimentality. Totally 100% agreed that sentimentality, IMO among anyone who ever spent a session with the red box or earlier, makes it nearly impossible for them (us!) to be objective about the text. My gut, initial reaction to the thread was "Why on earth is Luke so fixated on hewing so close to the text? None of us really did." A few days later, my final take is "Why on earth didn't we play to the text? How is it that learning 'how to play Dee and Dee' became a social, rather than a technical, exercise?" Seriously, even though lots of copies of the text were available to us, we would always cherrypick the stuff we wanted and discard the stuff we didn't. Part of the social exercise of being taught the game was being taught that the rulebook isn't an authoritative source for anything beyond character advancement and weapon stats. Personal theory: The cult of the DM was probably born out of charismatic, skilled DMs who believed their own bullshit.
Anyway, it's a worthy read. I'm especially grateful for it because I know I'd never have the patience, or possibly the ability at this point, to grind through the process objectively and even-handedly.