10 Things Videogames Learned from D&D

Gary Gygax's influence will reverberate through the ages

Inventory and Items
Many an intrepid adventurer has risked life and limb in dungeons to collect swag and loot treasure chests. Inventory is not just for RPGs anymore: tried playing a Tiger Woods game lately? How many pairs of khakis does one golfer need? And how the hell do Special Pants improve a man’s Putt? D&D’s elegant Abilities system created a framework in which the use of magic items and armor could improve a character’s performance of feats within the game. The practice is commonly, if not logically, applied to the whole spectrum of videogames. So don your Bowling Shoes of +5% Pin Action and glide to sweet victory!

Variable Weapon Damage
In D&D, a dagger deals 1-4 damage, an arrow 1-6, and a scimitar 1-8. In most early videogames, every attack delivered the same amount of damage every time. Games like Galaga and Defender had little riffs on mono-damage (double ships, the smart bomb) but it was real Dark Ages stuff compared to how D&D players measured their destructive aptitudes. Thanks toMoore’s Law, computer games can now keep up with and even surpass the variable-generating prowess of men with bags of dice. Next time you scrounge a P90 off a corpse-littered battlefield, say a little prayer for Gary Gygax, for without him your sub-machine gun would be the equal of a mere pistol.

Weapon Upgrades
Whether you’re looking for your Blades of Chaos to deal more damage or to stick an ACOG scope on your M-16, the upgrading of basic gear was introduced in -you guessed it -Dungeons & Dragons. One of the greatest lures of the magic-user class was the ability to take a normal broadsword and forge it into a +3 Broadsword of Turning Undead. The search for the proper components is that much more quest-fodder.

We at GamesRadar will miss Gary Gygax. We raise a tankard of mead to his memory and get on with our gaming, confident that his influences have touched us in a way that no other game designer ever has.

Mar 6, 2008