Trade website: gamesindustry.biz (which is just eurogamer, except there's no videos and constant screengrabs to pad out reviews) recently ran an article citing -Dungeons & Dragons creator- Gary Gygax as the father of games design, on account of how so much of the fundamentals of gameplay mechanics are still used today in video games. Hence why the articles writer, Thomas Rawlings, states studying D&D is the best way to learn the basics of game design.
And there's nothing wrong with that sentiment. D&D has been going since the 70's and Gygax was the man that made D&D become the first, published, table top role playing game. However, there's someone Thomas Rawlings should have paid more attention do. Let me introduce you to Dave Arneson
|I chop trees, in between defining genres|
You see, while at a gaming convention, way back in 1969, Gygax met Arneson while he was working on a medieval, tabletop game called Chainmail. Well, Arneson worked with Gygax in adapting Chainmail into Dungeons & Dragons.
I know what you're thinking: "What has this got to do with video games (apart from all the Orcs and Elves we constantly see in RPGs) and if Thomas Rawlings only gave Arneson a passing mention, then he couldn't of been that important."
But if you read far better writing than I instead of Gamesindustry.biz (which has the same percentage of ignorant prats posting as Eurogamer's readership does) then you would know Arneson created such features as:
The concept of the dungeon master as a neutral judge of the game
Speaking to made up characters (or NPCs as we call them now) to progress the storyline
Hit AND experience points
The whole idea of role-playing a character, you create
In essence, everything you know and love about RPGs today, Arneson is the real godfather of. But he got overlooked by anyone who can't do more than a rudimentary wiki-search, because Arneson left to do his own thing after D&D was released and is only now credited as the co-creator of said game, because he filed a law suit when D&D publishers: TSR released "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" which was a slightly updated version of the original, but TSR said they didn't owe Arneson any royalties because it was a new game. Which is wasn't. And thus, he was never that closely associated with the D&D brand since.
Hmm, a game publisher trying to pull a fast one on the creative that made them loads of money. Looks like Arneson invented more than just the RPG.