(I originally posted this yesterday, but pulled it when the news of Dave's passing turned out to be premature. Sadly, it appears that was but a temporary reprieve.)
I just read over at Grognardia that Dave Arneson has passed away.
I met Dave back in 2007, when the guys at The Source Comics and Games in Minnesota flew me out as part of World Wide D&D Game Day. I had dinner with him, and had a chance to chat with him a bit. My only regret is that I forgot to bring anything for him to sign.
To be blunt, history has largely cast Dave as Gary's second banana, but it's clear from any study of D&D's roots that while Gary tended the flame in those early years, Dave struck the spark. In a perfect world, things would've played out differently. The two elders of our hobby would've guided the game for years, a Fafhrd and Grey Mouser of the tabletop.
Alas, we don't live in a perfect world, but an infinitely human one. That which should be, and that which can be, all too often never come into alignment.
Gygax, Arneson, Moldvay, Bledsaw, these men were more than the pillars of our hobby. They are the pillars of an entire new way of thinking about games, about how we interact with *stuff*.
User generated content? The fundamental concepts of the multi-billion dollar gaming industry? These guys invented it. Maybe the world will forget their names, Hell, maybe it already has, but it'll never forget what they made. These guys taught us that what's in the book doesn't have to be what's played at the table, that the best stories are the ones we make ourselves, that what's on the shelf doesn't compare to what's in our minds.
Rest in peace, Dave, and thanks for blazing that trail.