There have been many game designers and creators of game systems who I admire, but few as much as Dave Arneson. So I was saddened to hear he had passed away last week on April 7th. For someone like me who remembers the original three book Dungeons and Dragons books (as do many others), the Blackmoor supplement remains one of my favorites of all time and the first setting to really capture my imagination and to hold it more than the many others over the years.
Matt Blum wrote in his Wired Magazine column, “It was Arneson’s spark that transformed Gygax’s game Chainmail into the first edition of D&D, and begat everything that followed.” In his career, he was a man of many talents, combining a love of games not just as the developer of D&D, but as a teacher and creator in other mediums including computer games. In the Star Tribune (article no longer available), his daughter said, “…her father enjoyed teaching at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., in recent years, where he inspired future game creators, and taught students to make a solid set of rules for their games.” His approach to games makes more sense to me than that of other designers and probably why some of my earliest favorite computer games tend to resemble computer versions of Arneson’s Temple of the Frog, among them games like Telengard, Temple of Apshai and Wizardry. There are some great insights in this previously unpublished interview with Dave Arneson from 2004.
Though’ll he’ll be missed, we’ll always be grateful for the person he was and the legacy he left. It’s truly a great one.