Third Wave Feminism is a topic I know little about, but thankfully there’s Wikipedia.
Third-wave feminism refers to several diverse strains of feminist activity and study, whose exact boundaries in the history of feminism are a subject of debate, but are generally marked as beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to the present. The movement arose partially as a response to the perceived failures of… second-wave feminism during the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s [which focused on] the experiences of white, middle-class women and was not a proper representation of all women. [The third] wave of feminism expands the topic of feminism to include a diverse group of women with a diverse set of identities. Rebecca Walker coined the term “third-wave feminism” in a 1992 essay.
Emphasis is mine.
What this tells us is that it’s perfectly legitimate to coin the term as a forward-thinking exercise; although obviously to be credible your peers must agree.
(there’s a payoff for being the one who said it first, of course)
The other point is that by the Third Wave it’s much more likely to diverge to many points than converge to a single one. The reason for this should be plain to see — increases in diversity with expanding audiences and advocates.
That doesn’t mean that when one person says “the Third Wave is this” they’re wrong; just that it’s only their singular vision.
With that in mind, this is my alternative, slightly more diverse vision. The Third Wave of the OSR, if such a thing is even a thing, will be characterised thus:
- a divergence of intent through system. Some games like Into the Odd refine the perceived experience of dungeon crawling by cutting out the fat in the system. Others like Beyond the Wall refocus the kind of narrative or genre, while keeping the advantage of compatibility, etc.
- a divergence of format that challenges established formats — production values, artwork, products that look good on the coffee table, zines, even digest sized products as an alternative to traditional formats. All this means is, people are more and more open to different content delivery methods.
- a divergence of experience. These are the settings and adventures, which are already present as the true OSR brand ambassadors; this has been diverging ever since the so-called First Wave.
Claiming that something is Third Wave anything is fair game; it should be debated and challenged constantly, and we’re better off for those discussions. Not as an exercise in cultural demarcation, but to show us where the gaps are and what new territories remain. Just be wary of someone using the term for marketing purposes.