Thursday, September 5, 2019

Throwback Thursday - Zero-Dumb Game

There's been a rash of discussion lately (it happens periodically) on the D&D legacy and I thought I would give my own perspective.  I grew up in Northern IL and started wargaming in the early 1970s, adding D&D to the gaming mix when it was first published in 1974.  The wargamers I knew and who taught me in those early days were often the guys from the local military bases who also made trips to Lake Geneva for the early Gen Cons and other wargaming.  I didn't make it to a Gen Con until 1975.  The folks I played with back in those days were always aware of Dave Arneson's contributions to D&D, as well as the the whole MN contingent, especially Dave Megarry whose Dungeon! boardgame gave so many of us many hours of fun gameplay.  His game was a sort of shorthand for how to start designing dungeons for a homebrew and also helpful when trying to explain to non-gamers how D&D worked!

What I like to think of as The Fertile Crescent of RPGs

As near as I can tell, for me as an outsider (non-TSR, non-Industry-person) who gamed in the early days, it wasn't until the advent of the Internet when some reprobates started the pissing contests.  That Dave Arneson had moved on from TSR was known by me and my friends but none of the details really from either "side."  The recent articles on that site beginning with K are manufacturing more of the same false animosity that some early Internet trolls were fashioning out of ignorance and a need for attention.

The author of the Gygax legacy "hatchet piece" and the more recent TSR "rift" piece came to Lake Geneva and tried to interview a number of people prior to the first article and most wouldn't speak with her.  It's my understanding Gary's widow was unaware this author seemingly had an agenda.  When that writer contacted me (she contacted lots of locals who were formerly in TSR or who are in the current gaming scene), I told her to feel free to come by the game store (figuring she would anyway and I'd rather be aware she was there) but told her I wasn't interested in being recorded or interviewed, though I was happy to talk to her, since she said she was a gamer.  It was very clear from the start she was asking leading questions and looking to find quotes and sound bites to further a predetermined narrative.  She hung out around twenty minutes or so and our conversation led me to believe her gaming background was with console and video games rather than tabletop games, though she had a smattering of TTRPG knowledge.  I was not looking forward to the article given my experience talking to the author.  The second "rift" article just confirmed what we already knew from the first piece.

As far as I am concerned, the appreciation of the early games and their progenitors is not a zero sum game.  There's plenty of credit to go around and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate everyone.  Dave Megarry is a big part of Gary Con as I am sure Dave Arneson could or would be if he was still with us.  Heck, I love the idea of a Arnecon in MN in late September or early October (his b-day being Oct 1st).  Of course, in the meantime, running stuff by Dave Arneson and paying tribute to him during Gary Con isn't going to ruin anyone's day either.  It's all good.

A look back at early tabletop hobby gaming
 or gaming-adjacent topics of the past.
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