Late Tuesday night, a man responsible for the joy of millions passed from the world. For the second time in just over a year, the gaming world lost a titan, an innovator, and a parent. Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, died peacefully among his family and friends at the age of 61.
Along with Gygax, who preceded him both into the world and out of it, Arneson revolutionized games and gaming as a hobby. Most everyone I know has spent more hours chucking funny dice or playing computer games based on RPG concepts than they have engaged in any other leisure activity. I myself have played roleplaying games (tabletop and computer-driven) for more than 20 years, and hope to play for twice that yet. I’ve seen the hobby go from obscure niche geek endeavor to massive popularity (complete with cartoon!), back to social pariah status, and yet again into the mainstream, this time hopefully to stay for a while. I’m glad Dave got to see it too. I never had a chance to meet the man, as I did Gygax, but by all accounts he was unfailingly kind, friendly, and appreciative of the players that made gaming what it is today. I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but I owe Arneson and Gygax a greater debt than I can ever adequately express, much less repay. In a memorial thread on an RPG forum I frequent, I spotted the quote used for a title above, and can think of no better tribute to the legacy Arneson has left behind.
The kings are dead. Long live the kings.