Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gary Gygax 1938-2008

I learned this morning that Gary Gygax died yesterday. If you're not familiar with the name, Gygax was one of the co-creators (along with Dave Arneson) of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, and thus pretty much the spiritual father of all modern video games, MMORPGs and related forms of entertainment. Don't believe me? Go to your X-Box or PS2 and start a game. See all those specs? Health. Strength. Stamina. etc, etc. Pretty much all the rpg games out there are based on D&D's system of levels and specs. Hit points and Experience points and all those other points can be traced back to the original and Advanced D&D game.
I'm not a D&D player myself. No one I grew up with was into it, so I never got the chance to play the original game. However I have played quite a few PC, platform, and now online games that owe much to Mr. Gygax. Plus I have long enjoyed many of the books spawned by Forgotten Realms, War Hammer, and other D&D spin offs and imitators.
There are some who argue that D&D has actually hurt fantasy literature by making the genre more generic, as the preponderance of epic fantasy series out there generally owe as much to gaming as to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Some series, such as Raymond Feist's Krondor books were even spawned from the author's D&D campaigns. I think it unlikely that the game has done the genre any harm. As the old saw goes, any publicity is good publicity.
So though I'm not a D&D player, I still feel I owe Gygax a debt of thanks. So thanks, Gary. I hope you're rolling up a new character right now.

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