The kids are arguing about the term “old school” again. Here, there, and everywhere. I won’t bother linking. If you read any other game blogs besides this one (and you had better be) you’ve seen plenty of it in the past 48 hours. It’s probably got about 48-72 hours to go.
Anyway, I’ll just say that the term “old-school” is very useful in a general sort of way when used to describe D&D gaming as it was up until about Unearthed Arcana and Dragonlance. This can generally mean open campaigns, player skill being at least as important as character stats, power levels lower than in later versions of the game, often simpler rules, and games where plot is secondary (if it exists at all).
However, I also believe that trying to definitively nail down just exactly what old-school gaming is and what it is not would be very counter-productive and harmful. I fear we’d end up with people arguing that AAC is not old-school or that a particular PC race or rule mechanic precludes old-school play.
That won’t help anyone.