Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Gary Gygax fails his saving throw ...

There are, according to me, two sorts of peopel in the English speaking world - those who have read the Lord of the Rings, and those who have lived it. Gary Gygax, the man credited with inventing roleplaying, has died, aged 69 (1).

I was never a D&D or AD&D player. They were my brother's prefered systems. Runequest and, later, GURPS and Cyberpunk, were my games. But repsect is still due to the man who started the polyhedral dice rolling, even if he foisted heinous concepts like 'levels' and 'character classes' on the roleplaying world.

Young people nowadays, eh, they do it all on computer. It isn't the same. If it doesn't involve copious amounts of paper, with a spilled cup of coke having consequences on a par with a death in the family ("Look at this! Zurd's character sheet is ruined! I can't see if he has a whetstone or not, nor how many feet of silk rope! Fool!"), and frantic searches for a d12 ("I can't help it if my sword uses the most pointless die in the set!"), then it isn't roleplaying. Gygax agreed, commenting about computer games:
“There is no intimacy; it’s not live ... 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.’” (2)
A LOT of my teenage years were spent imagining that I was all manner of curious things, and (every true roleplayer tries this) inventing my own 'perfect systems' that never got beyond a handful of stats and an arcane combat system. Perhaps I should have been out smoking, getting wasted, being involved in car crashes and exposing myself to venereal disease. With hindsight, I probably made the right choice. And I don't mean playing Runequest over AD&D. I mean roleplaying, and for that I thank GG.
1 - 'Gary Gygax, Game Pioneer, Dies at 69,' by Seth Schiesel in the New York Times, 5th of March, 2008. (

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