Gary Gygax, RIP:

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away today. Others are more qualified than I am to discuss his immense technical contributions to the development of D&D and roleplaying games more generally. I will only note that an incredibly high percentage of the successful academics, scientists, and intellectuals from my generation were D&D players in their teens. I don't think that is a coincidence. Playing D&D also helped get me and many others interested in ancient and medieval history, which remains a major interest many years after I gave up the game itself. Gygax will certainly be missed.

UPDATE: To clear up some confusion among commenters, I don't necessarily mean to suggest that playing D&D actually causes success in academia or science. Two variables can be correlated in a noncoincidental way even if one does not cause the other. For example A and B can be highly correlated because both are in part caused by the same third variable C. In this case, playing D&D and later success in an intellectual profession were probably caused by an underlying propensity towards interest in intellectual issues (AKA - NERDINESS). Similarly, the competitiveness and attention to detail that you need to be a good D&D player also come in handy in academia, science and other intellectual fields. However, it's also possible that some causal link did exist. The experience of of playing D&D can also help stimulate other intellectual interests, as certainly happened in my case (though those particular interests didn't become the focus of my eventual career choice).

UPDATE #2: There is in fact evidence (albeit unscientific) suggesting that playing D&D does sometimes influence later career choices. Gary Gygax's wife told reporters today that "[o]ver the years, it was one of his great pleasures to meet fans who told him that fooling around with characters, persona and dice ultimately helped them decide to becoming [sic] a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, or whatever else. 'He really enjoyed that.'" This didn't quite work in my case. My preferred D&D character classes were clerics and fighters, neither of which have much connection to my current career.