If you’ve ever completed a quest or equipped an item in a video game, then you should thank Gary Gygax for the experience. Gygax, sometimes called “the father of role-playing games”, is responsible for creating the RPG Dungeons and Dragons — a game which has single-handedly influenced a huge amount of different types of media.
Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop pen-and-paper game where a group of players each take charge of a fantasy character which they create themselves. The players go on adventures which are mediated by a separate person titled the Dungeon Master, who determines what is going on in the world around the players.
The outcome of everything in DnD is determined by dice rolls, so carefully set plans or seemingly insurmountable situations can go a variety of ways based on how well players and the Dungeon Master roll.
Think of video game developers as your virtual Dungeon Masters and you’ll start to see the relationship that Dungeons and Dragons has with video game versions of RPGs. An RPG in its most basic form is just a character or group of characters going through a series of encounters with some end goal in mind.
Gygax started out developing different tabletop wargames for various companies. His experiences working on these games, and influence from various writers like Robert E. Howard (who created Conan The Barbarian) led to the development of what was first given the name “The Fantasy Game”.
“The Fantasy Game” eventually became Dungeons and Dragons, and in 1973 Gygax left his job and founded Tactical Studies Rules, the company which would release the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons just a year later.
In 1977 TSR released Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, a new rule set which made the original release obsolete. It was with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons that the game saw the beginning of supplemental content like Monster Manuals which made a slew of premade beasts available to Dungeon Masters.
Gygax left Tactical Studio Rules due to financial complications and a rift that had grown between him and other shareholders of the company. After TSR. Gygax worked for various other tabletop game companies and published fantasy novels, but Dungeons and Dragons will always remain his legacy.
Since Dungeons and Dragons’ creation, it has captured the imaginations of players all around the world and is currently in its fifth iteration of rulesets. If you’ve ever wanted to play DnD but don’t know how you should check out your local hobby store and ask around for someone to teach you. There are a lot of rules and different facets to the game, but once you learn, it can be some of the most fun you can have with a group of friends. And you’ll probably game a much deeper appreciation for the RPGs of today you know and love.