Friday, April 10, 2009

The Last Dragon Has Died

One of the imaginative inventors of the world famous “Dungeons & Dragons” game died today. David Lance Arneson, lost his battle against cancer, he was 61.

Back in 1974, Arneson and his friend Gary Gygax created the now internationally famous role playing game. The game enjoyed a cult-like following, as players became characters in an interwoven imaginative world, where they could be fighters or wizards, elves or dwarfs. These characters are all on a quest, for the hidden treasures, which are skilfully guarded by evil monsters.

These games were so intense, they could take days, weeks, even months to complete, depending on the skill, interest and time of the players.

I remember the phenomenon back in the early 1980’s when “D&D” clubs, user groups, and parties became all the rage. There was even a “D&D” support group, for people who felt that the game had taken over their lives, and they needed help and support to wean off of its magnetic draw.

But there was more to the game than personality, strength and intelligence points earned through the game. The “Dungeon & Dragons” game spurned on other role playing games, opening up a whole new world of game play.

Instead of having to choose between the common shoot ‘em up type of game, a sports game, or some silly cartoonish game based on a hit popular television series, role playing games gave people a chance to immerse themselves in the realm of fantasy, and use their imaginations.

These days, it isn’t uncommon to find role playing games – also called RPG – everywhere. From dating simulators, where you play a dateless wimp and have to bulk up at the gym in order to win over the beautiful blonde babe, to games where you are the mayor of a town, and have to run the whole city.

Sadly, the two co-creators battled each other outside the “D&D” world. After 1982, sales of the game topped $20 million, but Arneson didn’t think he was being credited enough for his part of the invention, so he filed a series of lawsuits against his co-creator, Gygax. Eventually, the law suits were settled, but the damage had been done, creating a rift between the two, which is ironic as their game gave millions of people a reason to spend time friends and family.

Gygax died last year, and with Arneson’s death today, none of the founding fathers of the “Dungeons & Dragons” world remains. But what they leave behind is far more than the original game, the video games, novels, cartoon and movie which were developed directly out of their creation. The fathers of “D&D” have left behind a whole concept in gaming, one where imagination and intuition are just as important an element of winning, as strength and weaponry.

Many criticized the original “D&D” game as being overly violent, some even blamed it on problems in their own families.

However, the “D&D” games were more than just your common shoot ‘em up game. They empowered players to be creative in solving problems, to think their way out of challenges, and that having a winning personality can win the game.

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