#4 of 6 Pop Culture Visionaries Who Get Too Much Credit
Dungeons and Dragons: Gary Gygax
E. Gary Gygax is considered the father of not only Dungeons and Dragons, but also the modern RPG industry itself. When, in reality, he was more like the weird uncle who lives in the garage and keeps clogging the toilet.
Alan De Smet
Gary, seen here explaining why THAC0 is superior to anything in 3.5 or 4th edition.
Who Actually Deserves the Credit:
During a nerd side quest, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax had an epic random encounter when they chanced to meet at Gen Con in 1969. Gygax was working on something called Chainmail, which was a war simulator only a bit more complicated than the average board game. With Arneson's influence, Chainmail was adapted to include:
- Exploring dungeons
- Using a neutral judge/dungeon master
- Conversations with imaginary characters (NPCs) to develop the storyline
- Hit points
- Experience points
- The concept of role-playing an individual character rather than just rolling dice
So, basically, he put the "R" in RPG.
In fairness, Gygax was the man who introduced Cheetos and Mountain Dew to tabletop gaming.
Then why did Arneson's name fail its saving throw against history? Because in 1976, Arneson left TSR, the company that published D&D, to pursue a career as an independent game designer. In 1977, TSR released a new version of the game, cleverly titled Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and insisted that they didn't owe him any royalties. Arneson started filing lawsuits, while Gygax just looked around, realized that somebody was paying him to play D&D and tried his best not to rock this boat that should not be.
Rocco Pier Luigi
"I just assumed I'd rolled a natural 20 at life."