Tool around an old school/OSR forum, con or blog at the tail end of the last decade and one wouldn't have to go far before hearing the dismissive phrase “special snowflake” aimed with deadly force at fantasy worldbuilding or character backstory.
To be sure there seemed to be a good deal of antipathy to the idea of creating detailed, minutely fleshed-out imaginary worlds. A bit of defiance even: “no one cares about what color hats the burghers of Madeuptown wear or the burial customs of Whatthefuckistan.”
I understood and agreed to some extent with much of the impulse. Decades of Tolkien pastiche, awkwardly-executed exotic setting and paid-by-the-word splat had left behind reams of setting whoha. It was--and is--too much this steady accumulation of bad and failed imaginary worlds.
The ultra-terse settings of the Wilderlands and Greyhawk folio were often cited as counter-examples. This trend ran along for a while and culminates with the creations of (to borrow and madly mangle a phrase) "nega-settings" like the Isle of the Unknown. And then without much acknowledgment the phrase and the sentiment starts disappearing over the past few years.
I say good fucking riddance.
See a part of me always bristled at the notion. For I genuinely like robust worldbuilding. You can actually make me care about color those damned hats are or whether or not those sad Whatthefuckistans swaddle their dead or not.
And you don't need a random chart or oblique mechanical hiding of it, that can help, but really you just have to make it good. It needs to reach through the page or better the gaming table and grab me.
Look I dig the gamey aspects of well-aged D&D and its brethren: the micro-exploration and tactical choice of the dungeon, the emergent story (if any), the boardgame-like rise of zero-to-hero etc. But I also just want the rush and thrill of pretending to walk the streets of a deeply imagined city.
Concretely my favorite experiences as a player (and what a real joy having had a chance to play in as many divergent campaigns as I have thanks to the Google Plus boom) have all entailed at least a few sessions of “off-topic” just schlepping around interacting with other GM's worlds.
Meandering through dark alleys and salons in Jeremy Duncan's baroque Galbaruc only to have my scumbag/sailor character's spine get ripped out in a street boxing match. Taking a day job as a corrupt rookie cop in the Sword-and-Planet meets He-Man wildness of Robert Parker's Savage World of Krul. Hustling at a wine bar with my Apollo-the-demonic-snakegod-worshiping priest in the ancient astronauts meets ziggurated (not a word) ancient Mesopotamia of Evan Elkin's Uz (really he puts this kind of robustly world out every few months). Plying a magic caravan in the refracted real world of Michael Moscrip's Anglia.
And as a reader I want more of the compelling visuals, imaginative reach and clever little nooks of Trey Causey's fantasy 1930s Weird Adventures and the sweet-spot 70s space opera of his soon-to-be-released Strange Stars. More of the grotty and decidedly strange mythic underworld of Jason Sholtis’s Operation Unfathomable (the Hydra Collective's next big project yes, but I am a passionate fan). More of the science-fantasy strange gods and divergent magic of Gus L's clerics in HMS Apollyon.
And more newer things like the pithy, baked-into-a-game charm of Chris McDowall's Into the Odd or the pointcrawled epic weirdness of Paolo Greco's underworld in the Chthonic Codex (along with Zak's Red and Pleasant Land the two most physically gorgeous game-related literature I have the pleasure of owning). The list goes just on and on looking through my bookmarked pages.
So bring that special snowflake. More please.