Category: Miscellany

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.

Pro-tip: If you’re going to trash the new Watchmen downloadable game, it would behoove you not to look like a jackass by critiquing the voice-over actors as “…some guy who sounds like a teenage Christian Bale/Dark Knight fan” (Rorschach) and the “whiny kid doing Nite Owl’s voice,” given that both those roles in the game are voiced by the actors playing said characters in the major motion picture. Tool.

In your rush to maintain your “edgy” cred by trouncing the title (which has some obvious flaws from the short time I spent with the demo), you decided to see how many cool analogies you could make in criticizing it, and made yourself look like an idiot. Ten seconds on would’ve perhaps saved you the embarassment, and you could’ve stuck to more valid critiques (game length, price point, repetitiveness).

P.S.: Complaining that the game only gave you two characters to choose from, when it has been known since the game was announced that the game would only feature two characters? This also makes you look like a tool.

UPDATE: Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to find problems with the analysis, as the original has already been edited to soften the voice-acting critiques and acknowledge the actors were not, in fact “teenagers” or “whiny kids.”

For 50 years, humanity has been straining at the leash of gravity. Those drawn to this endeavor come from all kinds of backgrounds, and for a host of different reasons. The one common thread running through it all is a desire to see the species break free of the limitations placed on us by virtue of birth, to push our understanding of ourselves, our world, and the larger universe around us ever outward. It’s a pattern of behaviors repeated throughout history, with its share of ups and downs. Finding the Northwest Passage, circumnavigating the globe, crossing the Atlantic, or spreading west of the Mississippi, we have pushed against the environment, geography, and political forces to move Beyond.

Any frontier contains danger. If it did not, then the advance and spread of humanity would never have been checked in the first place. The functional definition of “frontier,” for this purpose, is the place beyond which we cannot proceed, certain of our safety. When confronting these frontiers, exceptional men and women have stepped forward and proferred themselves in service of a greater good, to push into those boundaries and see what lies beyond them. Many have lost their lives in the effort. We owe a debt to those explorers that we can never adequately repay, save to remember the price they paid.

Today is a designated Day of Remembrance for 17 of those explorers. I’m too young to have seen Apollo, watched Challenger disintegrate live on television in my elementary school classroom, and got the call about Columbia from a coworker in the space program. I’ve watched hearings, read reports, and prepared reports for release to accident investigators and the public. I’ve also had the good fortune to meet some of the men and women that continue to suit up, strap in, and blast off to blaze the trail for humanity’s future. It’s my fervent belief that the job they do should never be taken for granted, and that these sacrifices never be forgotten. Nothing about spaceflight is “routine,” no matter how many launches we make.

Apollo I Challenger (STS-51-L)

Columbia (STS-107)