The Dark, Secret Roots of Gaming And Ponydom

JohnBrony I’ve been a brony since around season 2. It was a surprise to me, but after watching a few episodes while trying to figure out what this brony thing was about, I became hooked. I used to work in the TV industry and wanted to work in kids TV because I realized how influential it could be on young minds. And here, in a show that was seemingly for little girls, were a slew of clever jokes, great messages for girls and guys alike, and a load of good messages for anyone to follow. I got hooked. Why?

  • Great messages for kids
  • Funny jokes for adults as well
  • Inclusion of nods to many nerd culture elements (big lebowski, doctor who, comic book heroes)
  • Pony heads are plentiful (needed an excuse to use my derpy bullet points)
  • Kilts look great on ponies.

 

While the phenomenom of bronydom amongst adult males is a new thing, ponies and gaming have been tied together for a long time. On this most historic day, I want to tell you the full truth about the advent of ponies in gaming.

 

The Cartoon

I’m sure you all remember the D&D cartoon, but the unaired final episode shows that it was all actually taking place in the My Little Pony universe and UNI was the hero who needed the support of a group of human kids. Venger was actually a pony who was cursed to be human and who regained his full powers when he broke the curse and turned back into a pony.

 

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A still from the climactic battle where UNI shouts the final words of the spell that will bind Venger again and one of the few prototype toys made off of the unaired episode.

 

The Spinoff Game

DLMLPTSR attempted to capitalize on the growing pony craze again with their first attempt a licensed setting with ponies. Initial test prints were not received well by the gamers at the time. A random comment made by a disgruntled gamer (who clearly was stuck in a grognardian 1st ed mindset) of “Huh. I like the lances, but the ponies are kind of meh. Dragons would totally rock dude.” prevented ponies from getting their day in the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 80s Controversy

Though many believe that  the backlash to D&D in the 80s by many religious groups was because of supposed demonic ties. In reality, it was because of many fan attempts to inject ponies back into the game. These fans were ones who had seen the unaired episodes, played the few available copies of ponylance, and were part of Gary and Dave’s pony fan club in college, a less popular past time than their wargaming club. These fans adopting pony roles, as evidenced by this archival footage below, led to the deeply religious fringe groups calling for an eradication of D&D (Or P & D as the proto-bronies called it).

This, however, riled Hasbro who was looking to expand their market shares and protect their bottom line. They spoke with the religious groups and it was decided that the mystic overtones of D&D would be the focus instead of the pony players.

 

2006 Attempt

Of course we all know about Wizard’s attempt to reconnect to the pony/D&D crossover fanbase with the D&D edition of My Little Pony. Fearing another backlash from religious groups, the pony gamers decided to give this one a miss, leading to D&D attempting to capture younger, non-pony gamers with 4th edition.

 

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The Future Of Pony Gamers

Bronydom has opened up a whole new world of gamers to pony culture, but one of the biggest draws is the show itself. While the messages of many shows of MLP are about friendship and parties and being good to one another, there are also many episodes that have characters facing down monsters, beasts, magic, and bad guys galore. Not only does it teach all viewers to be good to each other, it also teaches little girls that they don’t have to be weak and helpless while other people fight battles for them. Ponies are ok for grown men and women and that tells young kids that it doesn’t matter how they contribute. The girls and boys who watch this show get the message that they can be kind and strong, and there is nothing wrong with being both, no matter what gender you are.

IMG_1612 new pony gamers

 

This is the future of ponies and gamers, and I for one think it is awesome.

 

 

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John Arcadian is a writer, gamer, art director, web designer, crafter, and kilt-wearer.
You can find more of his writings on gaming over at http://gnomestew.com.
For web-design projects, check out http://beezenwebdesign.com.

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John Arcadian