Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax...

A colleague sent me this a minute ago. A sad day for geeks and gamers all over.

GG failed the ST we'll all fail and moved onto the next rulebook.

I know: so many people, all great in their own ways, die each day, so I don't want to exaggerate.

But what Gary did was not just innovate RPGs out of wargaming, creating a juggernaut industry that has morphed over the decades from books to desktop gaming to MMORPGs; nor was his achievement to bring to the masses the idea that complex systems could be simulated through simple rules (though some people will argue that AD&D is anything but); nope, his real achievement was to popularize the idea that these rules could be used to interact with complex systems in real time. And that it was fun both to design them and to use them.

And thus he helped pave the way that geekdom would follow from then on, adding a fun side to probabilities, computer programming, mathematical simulation, etc.

For me, personally, the discovery in high school of D&D (the Basic set in the red box) marked one of those before-and-after points in life. While my productivity (and my stock of "real" books read) would undoubtedly have been a lot higher without RPGs, some crucial aspects of who I am today have to do with the self that developed from playing those games, starting from with whom and how I spent my leisure time during high school all the way to some basic professional choices.

So thanks, Gary.

p.s. I profoundly dislike the level-based system!

p.s.2. A nice tribute from Slate.

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