Gary Gygax, game pioneer and co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, died Tuesday. Some may laugh but this DnD geek believes that Gygax was one of the defining influences of our modern world. Without him and his role-playing game, there would be no massive Hollywood fantasy epics to lead millions back to reading by way of the books that came before the movies, no "playstation generation" (and maybe no pretending foreign policy is something you can just back up and restart), no massive online interactive fantasy games redefining commerce.
The NYT's obituary is here and contains this wonderful bit of Gygax:
These days, pen-and-paper role-playing games have largely been supplanted by online computer games. Dungeons & Dragons itself has been translated into electronic games, including Dungeons & Dragons Online. Mr. Gygax recognized the shift, but he never fully approved. To him, all of the graphics of a computer dulled what he considered one of the major human faculties: the imagination.And yes I'm still a game-playing geek, now teaching my teen stepsons - who have discovered that their own imaginations have better graphics than any X-Box can ever manage and have also turned into avid readers for the first time in their lives. I recommend it to John Miller and others.
“There is no intimacy; it’s not live,” he said of online games. “It’s being translated through a computer, and your imagination is not there the same way it is when you’re actually together with a group of people. It reminds me of one time where I saw some children talking about whether they liked radio or television, and I asked one little boy why he preferred radio, and he said, ‘Because the pictures are so much better.’ ”
Farewell, Gary. You made the pictures better.