Friday, December 21, 2012

Gary Gygax on Christmas and Christianity

A note from Gary Gygax in the IFW Monthly of February 1969. A topical historical curiosity, yes, but what does it tell us about who Gary was back then? First of all, he strongly self-identified as a Christian, an important counterpoint to the fundamentalist backlash against his later fantasy-themed games. Gary approached Christianity as a system with rules, which he researched and explored through a strict historical lens. If his readings differed from mainstream conventions, he was never one to bow to popular opinion. Sometimes he took things too seriously, sacrificing fun for accuracy. He was never shy about sharing his ideas and defending his position in public, but respectfully acknowledges the existence of dissenting views. These are all qualities we see reflected in his subsequent career as a game designer.

Speaking as someone who is not particularly religious, but nonetheless celebrates Christmas with a tree, gift-giving and feasting, I also find in Gary's words here a welcome reminder that Christmas and Christianity are not as tightly coupled as one might think. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gaming is Now 100 Years Old

Gaming as we know it - that is, a hobby surrounding commercial games that simulate conflict, marketed to the general public for entertainment - began one hundred years ago, in December 1912. That's when H.G. Wells published the first installment of his Little Wars in the Christmas issue of Windsor Magazine. Wells was already famous for the science-fiction novels he had published in the 1890s, but his more recent work focused more on the present day, and the looming shadow of war that hung over Europe. By going beyond just writing about war, and instead providing seminal rules for simulating it, Wells laid the groundwork for all of the twentieth-century gaming that would follow.