Monday, February 10, 2014

Make No Mistake. Dave Arneson Was The Creator Of Fantasy Role Playing

The other day I was thinking about Dungeons and Dragons and how it affected my life. 

It allowed me to make friends, learn math and statistics, and write and think creatively. Most importantly, it let me escape into a world far away and face challenges created specifically for us by our friends (dungeon masters and other players alike) so we could figure out on our own how to get through, around, under, or avoid in any way our imaginations (and the rules of the game) allowed for. 

Working in the game industry, I had had the honor to have been able to serve on many advisory boards and through one of them, I had the opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Dave Arneson, at Full Sail University. 
The most humble man I've ever met

Although as a kid, I was under the impression that D & D was 100% created by Gary Gygax. That's what the books told me. 

When I met Dave in person, I would have still thought that, because he never made a point of it. In fact, he blew the whole thing off because that is who he was. He was the most humble giant I have ever had the pleasure to have met. 

Once I got to know Dave and hear the stories from his fellow teachers and friends, I realized that I had not known the whole story. 

The whole story didn't make sense until I got the opportunity to attend the dedication of a new gaming studio at Full Sail University, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Studios. At that dedication, I met his daughter and his father, as well as the people that sat at the table while they all brought their piece of the Dungeons and Dragons' puzzle to the table. 

Dave was the creator of fantasy role playing. Really. The entire beginnings of the math at the heart and soul of the D20 system? That was his. The weird dice? His friend that played with him. Fantasy miniatures? Another friend. Tabletop mats with movement squares? Yep. They all made that happen and played D & D together in his dad's basement. 

And his dad let us know that they never got into his liquor cabinet, either. 

Dave became a teacher at Full Sail and blessed his students with amazing knowledge earned by his hard work and love of fantasy role-playing. 

The level of appreciation I have for Dave Arneson's creation of an entire genre of entertainment cannot be measured. 

His creation literally saved my life as a child. Not only did it open my imagination, it gave me a reason to escape into the library to avoid violent bullies at the schools I attended in my home town. 

Further than that, his creation led to the emergence of fantasy role playing video games. Which in turn affected the video game industry in ways that cannot be understated.

Joining the video game industry to work on an adaptation of one of the longest running fantasy role playing games, Ultima, was an extension of how Dave saved my life again. My Dungeons and Dragons background was directly applicable and I was able to make a living based upon my childhood dreams and fantasies. 

Luckily I got the opportunity to tell you this in person. 

Dave... you're my hero. 

If you'd like to learn more about Dave, Google him, or take a look at this piece put together about Dave at the dedication of the building that bears the name of his original D&D campaign, Blackmoore. Be sure to "Like" it on YouTube. He deserves it.

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