I guess this will probably be the third and final introductory post before we get to more contentious topics, but the question was asked (although not posted) and it did seem to me like a vital piece of information for this topic. From whence came this weird pastime of controlled, collective daydreaming? Odd as it may sound, I believe this hobby grew from the same seed as did professional sports.I can already hear many of your protests to this assertion (“Well I never!” “Surely not!” “Poppycock!” “He’s gone mad!” “Relieve this man of his dice!”). Don’t worry, I’m not really a fan of professional sports either so I can understand you taking offense at my comparing our pastime with this festering sore on the ass cheek of society; this drainer of educational funds and vector for cheap beer sales/consumption; this testosterone fueled worship and grossly unbalanced rewarding of what amount to whiny, self-centered, meat-head, prima donas who just happen to have been born a little better physically coordinated than the rest of us. Believe me, I understand, but hear me out. Professional sports are currently a vector to support conflict and rivalry between schools, cities, states and even countries without actually having to go to war. The best example of this was the US and the USSR during the Cold War where both the Olympics and the Space Race were used as political pacifiers to stave of the necessity of a nuclear holocaust. No one really wanted to go to war, but we still had the question of who was dominating and who was the dominated to answer and it seems that we as humans simply can’t function without such distinctions. All I can say is at least we can get by having them symbolically instead of in actuality. Both of these things, professional sports and gaming, are modern surrogates for warfare. In the case of gaming here’s how the progression went: 1. Warfare. 2. The telling of war stories. 3. Armchair quarterbacking of past battles. 4. Miniatures reenactment of past battles. This step kind of blurs with the previous step in the creation of games like Risk. 5. Miniatures enactments of battles that never happened. This step is important because it is where the direct connection to actual historical conflicts is severed. 6. The One Tolkien Geek of Power. This was that dude who showed up to the miniatures battles with armies of Elves instead of Germans or French like everyone else. The transition between steps 5 and 6 are what many D&D geeks refer to as The Gygax Factor. Actually, I suppose they don’t, but they really should. If you’d like more detail on this step see the Wikipedia on the subject:
Where did gaming come from?