Bryan Caplan  

Gary Gygax, RIP

Jonah Goldberg's Alternative T... Energy Scenarios...

Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons and the father of the thousands of role-playing games it spawned, has died. And while I think he made a bundle off of his ideas, he only got a small fraction of the value he created. After all, you can only copyright specific ideas, not an entire genre - even if without your work, the genre would not exist.

So this is a great time to let non-financial incentives compensate for positive externalities. Let's have a moment of gratitude for the great Gary Gygax. To the victorious dead!

HT: Eric Crampton, my former grad student whose enthusiasm sparked my last D&D campaign (using a house version of Gygax's 1st edition rules!).

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COMMENTS (7 to date)
jb writes:

Gary's supreme contribution - that one could pretend to fight, with rules to express how that fight play out paved the way for virtually everything computer-game related ever since. And it helped create a frame of reference for working with rules and processes that, for me, turned into a very good living as a computer geek.

Mr. Gygax, I salute you!

randy writes:

glad to see you post on this. what a giant he was. i hadn't even thought about how his creation touched on the numberless computer games which are based on the types of rules gygax developed in D&D. incredible. and sad.

David writes:

I know this is an economics blog, but this is so nerdy it actually hurts.

Eric Crampton writes:

We'll here soon be running a 1st edition campaign in memory. First edition D&D though, not AD&D, so I won't be able to resurrect Dougal, the lovable sage-assassin of charisma 3...

Ferruccio Fortini writes:

You say "you can only copyright specific ideas": actually, that's incorrect -- you can only copyright expressions, not ideas (some kinds of ideas may be covered by patents, a very different kind of "intellectual property" from copyrights). I guess I'm being pedantic, but there's a lot of confusion in the general public around various kinds of "intellectual property" concepts and laws, and I think it's better to correct erroneous terminology and concepts when they're expressed.

Ted writes:

I appreciate this post. This guy has such a massive following, that the responses to his death are spread across massively diverse circles. I play D&D, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. Thanks, Mr. Gygax.

Michael Sullivan writes:

I haven't played D&D in 20+ years, but I recently started playing World of Warcraft which turns out to be essentially D&D's computer graphics great-great-great-grandchild, as I was amused to discover soon after I tried it.

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