Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One campaign ends ...

Gary Cygax has died.

I heard it via email from a friend and fellow gamer. As it turns out, this was about 5 minutes before reading it on a variety of news sources and forums I frequent. Not surprisingly, this news has travelled quickly, far and wide. The article originally sent to me was from slashdot:

Ask Slashdot: How has D&D (and tabletop roleplaying) touched/improved your life?

I think this is a good idea, and some of the responses make a good read. I, however,am not a slashdot poster, and figured I might as well use one of the platforms I do have. Thus the post you're reading right now.

In short, I think I'd say that D&D introduced me to genre of gaming that's got more to offer than most others, in my humble (but correct) opinion. It's fun, challenging, engaging, often unpredictable, forces me to think in areas outside of my expertise, and assume roles outside of my normal experience and/or comfort zone. That, and a chance to hang around with friends and just talk crap.

I won't make any of the obvious jokes. There are enough "failed saves" and resurrection jokes floating around now to easily fill 3d20 bags of holding. Besides, many of them are much better crafted than any I could come up with.

I didn't know Gary Gygax, so my thoughts are really about the game and it's impact, not the man himself. It turns out that he'd been of poor health for quite some time, and I honestly had no idea. He was, however, a guy largely responsible for creating a gaming genre that is a legacy few could hope to surpass. Game specific material aside, I've only read book of his, which from memory was a generic strategy / mapping guide of some sort, and a good read from memory. Google has failed me this time, I'll have to see if I can find the actual book at home.

People who enjoy the genre that is role playing, turn up almost everywhere I choose to spend my time. I find that people whom I've enjoyed discussions with in environments where we don't usually know much about each others backgrounds, or have a lot in common (thinking largely of on-line communities and the like), often turn out to be gamers.

That's not to say that I automatically like all the keen gamers that are out there, or that gamers are universally friendlier, smarter, less smelly or more amicable than any other group. They're not. There may even be empirical evidence that the converse is true for one or more of those attributes. My point is though, that of those people that I find myself getting along with, and wanting to spend time with, gamers, or at least people who are "game/gamer friendly", make up a larger proportion than would be expected statistically.

It's a matter of getting that causality/correlation deal properly sorted out. I think that bright, open minded people looking for a bit of fun are likely to end up being attracted to all that RPG's have to offer.

This is as good a reason as I'll probably ever have to resurrect an old page from a now defunct personal web-site, under the auspicious title of "games":

If you came here hoping you'd get to zap aliens or spank a monkey or some such nonsense, too bad. There are no flash/animation games here.

I'm a semi-keen gamer, mostly of the RPG (in a room with (mostly)real people) or real-time strategy (PC based) persuasion. While my busy schedule doesn't allow for much actual gaming these days (please, no flowers), I can still dream. right? If you think that my mention of RPG's makes me the spawn of Satan, you could well be right. Or not. I tell you what, roll 2d6 and consult the table below.
1: You're absolutely correct, gamers have no place in this universe.
2-10: Actually, you're just a narrow minded tool who likes nothing more than a good stereotype. You prefer games with a high probability of head injury.
11-12: You've probably run out of fingers. Please refer to the entry for results 2-10.
Have a nice day.

I thinks it's also a good time to point out a link to a great article by Garry Pellino, called "The Shame of the Game". I don't think it's as bad now as it used to be, although this could simply be the result of me being older, wiser, and less bothered by others opinions. It may still be a big deal for, say, a high school RPGer. I've got a decade or so before I have to worry about this on behalf of my kids.

Of course, wikipedia has a good article on Garry Gygax. Apparrently, he said:

"I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else."

Sounds like a pretty good sentiment to me.

A couple of links to related items at other places I frequent:

Pharyngula The Dungeon Master fails his saving throw. Some amusing and well composed comments below the post.

Skeptic Friends Network: RIP Gary Gygax

Boing Boing: Dungeons & Dragons Creator Gary Gygax Passes Away

The Register: Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies.