The Battle of Dungeons and Dragons Is the Ultimate Geek War
Follow the unexpected success of Dungeons & Dragons in the late 70s, game planners Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson battled a decade -long battle over who should be considered to actually make the D & D. Gaming historian Jon Peterson recounts the struggle in his new book Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons.
“I found enough sources that most of the questions I thought were interesting I could at least shed some light on,” Peterson said in Episode 489 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast “There are a lot of uncertain answers, but I think I can paint even a little bit of a picture.”
Game Magicians can be shocking to most D & D fans Peterson’s account is heavily quoted from major sources, including letters and legal documents, which mostly paint Gygax and Arneson people with defects. “It’s not fun to write something that is, in the end, pretty negative,” Peterson said. “But at the same time, I think it should. If you can’t get the nuances of this business and legal situation, there are causes and effects that you can’t understand. ”
Peterson tries very hard to treat all of his characters with respect and sympathy. “Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has their own and everything,” he said. “But I think they’re trying to take advantage of the best situation they never expected to get into. Suddenly they’re coming, and what are they going to do? That’s why I hope no one is found here as a villain. ”
As for the question of who should be considered the real creator Dungeons & Dragons, Peterson believes the game is clearly a team effort. “It comes from all the different backgrounds and experiences, and all the different inputs that are gleaned here – if so Braunstinos, if that’s all the different weirdness that happens on the way to D&D, ”he said. “It’s never the right thing to ruin the invention of something that has this kind of cultural significance to an individual.”
Listen to the full interview with Jon Peterson in Episode 489 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Jon Peterson to Dave Arneson:
“There were three awards given D & D [at the 1978 Origins Game Fair], including the award for “Best Rules of the Game of the Game.” It’s an awards ceremony, and it’s not a big deal, though TSR the employees would go and pick up their trophy, and thank the people, and sit down. It is true that Arneson ran on stage to take the always -most trophy in playing roles, and there was little controversy. Should these trophies go to the company that published the game, or should they go to the designer? Arneson ran this entire publicity campaign to try to convince people that awards like this should go to designers and not companies. … But in the end there wasn’t much sympathy, even among wargame publishers in the industry, for his position, and he didn’t end up getting three trophies for himself. ”
Jon Peterson of Gary Gygax:
“Gymgax was very good personally. Everyone who met him – before he became ‘Gary Gygax’ and everyone had all this rage at the success of D & D—Just expresses how eager he is to help, how he wants to sit and play with you, help you design games, help you perfect your own rules. He was a very happy, friendly, hospitable man. … Only once those skills start should be used to run a medium-sized business, where now there are many people on staff, many layers of management, there is a process, and this group must agree to this group, and they have to implement this overall strategy, and you can’t manage it all at all, when it becomes this kind of company, he just hates it. He wanted to get out. ”
Jon Peterson on Satan’s panic:
“You see people [at TSR] saying things like, ‘Yeah, there’s all this toothache about the occult, but the reason people force the occult to force is that there’s – maybe maybe – there’s a reason for it.’ I don’t think they mean anything more than they do with, say, astrology. If you read your horoscope in the newspaper, does it have it? Probably not, but it just has this level of background, especially the release in the 1970s, of crystals and New Age-ism and American watered-down spiritualism. And I think they want to tap into that — or best they know it’s part of the market that’s out there. Although Gygax and Arneson are recognized as Christians – strongly – so as a result of that I don’t think they are really seeking to make an offensive stance about the possible reality of the occult. ”
Jon Peterson of Ben Riggs:
“Ben Riggs is putting a book out next year, called Kill the Dragon. It focuses mostly-though not exclusively-on the stage afterwards Game Magicians end. … Right away Game Magicians announced, many people following Ben, knowing his book was coming, like, ‘Oh my god. Is there someone who will try to beat you at all? Did Peterson try to put it in front of you? ‘So we made a video of Gen Kauban this year just to say, ‘Actually, we’re buds. We know we’ve been making these books together forever, and we coordinate about it to make sure they’re on the same page. ‘It can’t be something where you ask,’ Is Riggs good or is Peterson right? ‘ May we be as aligned as possible. ”