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Gary Gygax Did More Than You Know March 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Geek Stuff, Science Fiction, Technology.
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But of course he didn’t mean to. Some people cite The Law of Unintended Consequences like it’s always a bad thing. But it isn’t. Often discoveries derive from the most unexpected backgrounds and the results of one innovation can lead to another and another in the most marvelous ways. Check out the shows Connections, Connections², Connections³ or The Day the Universe Changed all hosted by James Burke. Or maybe you could find the books. What does any of this have to do with Gary Gygax? Just read this piece in the New York Times by Adam Rogers, a senior editor at Wired.

Some people never understood anything about the appeal of D&D. But while I was never heavily into playing I did play a few times and understand the appeal. Consider what happened one time when playing with a friend who was running an “introductory” dungeon for some people who had never played the game or only played once or twice before. I was playing the character of a sorcerer and our group had been tossed into a dungeon. Our first task in this adventure was of course to escape our prison. Being a very low level sorcerer I had very few spells in my arsenal and none of them were very powerful. But I decided to give something a try anyway and cast that old standby, the magic missile, at a bar of our jail. The dungeonmaster rolled the dice to see what would happen, blinked at the results and said in a surprised voice “It worked. The bar has broken apart and you can escape between the remaining ones.”. It was an unexpected action that forced the DM to adapt in an instant to an entirely new set of circumstances and change his plans accordingly and granted the group an unexpected advantage. That sort of thing and the getting together of friends with a common interest is one of the appeals of what Gary Gygax helped create and that he still enjoyed, hosting D&D sessions at his home as recently as January. He wasn’t a saint, more of a curmudgeon in some ways from what I hear, but at a minimum even if you don’t buy some of what Rogers wrote, he co-created a game system that still entertains millions to this day along with its progeny.

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Comments»

1. runasim - March 26, 2008

“He wasn’t a saint, more of a curmudgeon in some ways”

It’s the curmudgeons, st times, who best shake up herd mentality and force conventional wisdom to look at itself in the mirror.

2. Dyre42 - April 18, 2008

He also created the first major interactive medium that allowed people to explore different aspects of themselves in a safe and entertaining way.


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