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Origin of the Term: Grognard

September 25, 2011

For quite awhile now I have seen the word Grognard used to denote certain types of gamers: old gamers, old gamers stuck in the past, or even those gamers who favor older versions of games or old game systems. Never knew where the term cam from until the other day, when I was reading an article on the demise of the game company, SPI. For those who don’t know (or don’t remember) SPI was a big publisher of wargames back in the 1970s and early 1980s that rivaled Avalon Hill in their output and sales. They even had two rpgs: Universe and Dragonquest. (Some ‘grognards’ still play Dragonquest.) Anyway, the article mentioned where the word ‘grognard’ comes from. The staff at SPI called its best, hard-core customers the grognards, a term that had been used to denote the veterans of Napoleon’s Grande Armee.

So the term for old geeks has a rather ‘geeky’ origin. Now you know.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2011 12:19 am

    Hello Steve,

    Here’s the best explanation of which I am aware –

    http://www.alanemrich.com/Writing_Archive_pages/grognard.htm

    Personally, I was a wargamer in the early Seventies, prior to the advent or roleplaying games (typically attributed as in 1974) when I added RPGing to my other tabletop gaming hobbies. I continue to RPG and wargame, as well as boardgames and card games to this day, so some hardcore wargamers might not even consider me a grognard, since I am not exclusively a wargamer. Sometimes the term is erroneously applied to longtime RPGers but that’s a place I don’t go myself. Neo-grogs is the term I tend to use for those new to the wargaming hobby, new being those who joined in the last couple of decades. Purely an arbitrary distinction, I know, but it seems some delineation pleases other older wargamers and I hate having them gang up on me when we play multi-player games.

    All the best,
    Mark Clover
    CreativeMountainGames.com

  2. October 30, 2011 1:54 pm

    Thanks Mark! I love finding out where this stuff comes from. Like you I was a wargamer before I was a roleplayer, though only for a year or two. Played a fair bit of AH Panzer Blitz and some of the other AH boxed games before ‘discovering’ Dungeons and Dragons.

    -Steve

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