“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.” – Gary Gygax
Okay, this month’s “Out of Game” Column, isn’t exactly out of game- recently, an icon of our time, possibly even the father of all RPG gaming as we know it, passed away. Gary Gygax was a writer, designer, gamer, science-fiction and fantasy fan, and all around great guy. He founded Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), the International Federation of Wargamers, and most importantly, was the creator of Dungeons and Dragons.
For years, the genre of Roleplaying Games has being bringing people together- creative people, funny people, and people that might not necessarily fit in elsewhere. It created a niche for people that relate to the world differently; it brought them out of their shells, or away from the sidelines, and into a social circle of their own.
It’s mind boggling to realize that he may well have created the single most effective form of socialization for geeks.
But did he realize, at the time, how revolutionary his ideas were? Probably not. He wanted do more of his favourite thing- playing games. But more importantly, he saw an opportunity to improve it.
If modern consumer culture is any indication, people can’t seem to live without various forms of entertainment. But modern media has made it significantly harder to distinguish between what constitutes a day to day minor distraction, and what constitutes a real hobby.
I think anybody who DOES have a real hobby will be able to immediately note the difference- a hobby is something you actively participate in, and work at (like collecting or making something), that offers some form of cathartic pay-off at the end.
Gamers, or maybe just geeks in general, are addicted to hobbies. Hobbies of a generally interrelated kind but nonetheless there is a broad spectrum. RPG gamers rarely just play RPGs. Many of them also play CCGs or board games, or video games, or tabletop games, or act in plays, or produce plays, or practice fencing…the list goes on.
It’s our therapy, our way of making friends, our way of spending a Saturday night, and our way of having millions of people worldwide that we can relate to.
Gary Gygax gave us all a tremendous gift. He left us with a whole culture of hobbies, but he was also an example of how sticking by the things that make you happy, and working at them, can really pay off in the end.