Yesterday, the news spread on the Net, and it stopped a bit. Did you feel it? Posts in forums and on blogs; no not on those blogs, on the ones read by people who make this thing float: Gary Gygax has passed away. For a few seconds, the internet trolls was kept at bay, and serious condolences were offered.
Do not blame yourselves if you do not know what this man did; to me knowing his name was trivia, at most. However, indirectly he had some great influence on our world, and his deeds should be acknowledged. So, what did he invent, what technology or ingenious scientific leap was due to his genious. Well, nothing of the sort, directly. But, he is one of the fathers behind Dungeons & Dragons, and the general role-playing genre.
Before you scoff, think of the devices that make the internet afloat: the routers, the switches, the servers, and the protocols. Think of the mobile phone in your pocket and the music player at your desk. Then think of engineers, sysadmins and programmers. The people who provided all this technology, through intelligence and work. Many, a majority I would guess, played RP and table top games when they were young; some still do. (And if you still have a grin on your face, the computer gaming industry, sprung from this, is today worth several times anything that Hollywood may throw up.)
Wheather the reasons these young people had for gaming was to be part of the worlds in the books they read, escape from bullies, find friends, or just the simple joy of using their imagination and intelligence to the fullest, it did make an impact on their lives. Many of them end up in important position in the technology sector. Was it because of gaming? I do not know; however I believe that the RP games stimulated their thought and imagination, taught them to handle conflicts of interest (dividing the loot!) and generally how to working in the industry. Sure; life can only be learned from living it. But working in an organization? There is just so much difference between management and orcs anyway.
Thus yesterday, if you tuned your senses carefully to the pulse of the Net, you could hear the soft murmur from a thousand voices saying "thanks".
Penny Arcade; Order of the Stick; xkcd