Tuesday, September 25, 2018

93K+ Follower YouTube Show attempts to Erase Dave Arneson from D&D History. Then Censors Comments.

A friend of mine pointed me to a video about the history of RPGs. The video is released by Toy Galaxy, a YouTube channel with more than 93000 subscribers. While the video appeared to be well researched, going into great detail about the life of Gary Gygax and the things he did with gaming before the creation of D&D, the show goes into great lenght to downplay the key role played in the creation of the world's most famous tabletop roleplaying game of the other co-creator; Dave Arneson.

While this is not the first time a wanna-be gaming historian gives Dave Arneson less credit than this blog author believes he deserves, I think this video takes this unjust trend to a new height. According to the video, many people contributed to the creation of D&D, but "ultimately Dungeons & Dragons as published by TSR was credited to Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson." While I think it is admirable that other influential figures of the time get credit for their contributions to the hobby, I don't think that was the intent of the video. Neither David Wesely, Gary Switzer, MAR Barker nor others are mentioned by name. The point of this sentence seems only to be reducing the importance of Dave Arneson who is never mentioned again in the video after that single sentence.

To make matters worse, I have gotten reports that people who have tried to correct this misinformation have had their comments removed from the feed. To confirm this, I added a comment of my own, but this comment does also appear to have been removed except from my own feed. I'm not an expert with how YouTube works, but apparently this sort of censorship is often done manually. If anyone else reading this can see my comments, please let me know. This is pretty disturbing.

Now, gaming historians will disagree about who was most influential in the creation of D&D and who contributed what of Gary and Dave. But I have never seen any even semi-serious gaming historian give Dave as little credit as this video does. You can watch the video here. Let me know if you think I am being unfair.



  1. I dunno, this was pretty broad-brush stuff, but I do think he did a disservice to the hobby by not going a bit deeper into the pre-history, precursor games (wargaming societies, Chainmail/Braunstein/Blackmoor) influences.

  2. Know Dave Arneson, know Dungeons & Dragon; no Dave Arneson, no Dungeons & Dragons...

  3. @Robert Nuttman: I would have been fine with a broad brush description if the same video had not gone into such detail in other aspects of the story. Now Toy Games responded to another commenter that they did not want to go into the lawsuit drama, which I am also fine with, but I still think at least one additional line about Dave would have gone a long way of remedying what now appears as very disrespectful.

  4. @James Mishler: Thanks for commenting James. That is a very good way of phrasing this.

  5. Yeah, it's really a shame they can take the time to tell the viewer about Gary Gygax's life history, going so far as to let us know he was discharged from the Marines because of a case of walking Pnuemonia, but can't be bothered to mention Arneson except in passing or even a single word about Blackmoor. You'd think we'd be past that kind of lopsided presentation.

    1. You are that rarity, an honest historian who does research and then talks about possible conclusions.

      Rather than most so called "historians" who start with conclusions and then censor their research when they publish so that their conclusions are always supported. Most so called "historians" strive to equal politicians in the scope of their lies, so that their bias appears to be the only reasonable view.

    2. Yeah, DHBoggs is a breath of fresh air, in an otherwise foul profession. Most history books on anything, but especially on D&D should be labeled fiction. I look forward to the day when Boggs writes a book so we will finally have an even-handed agenda free book written about the history and pre-history of D&D. It would be nice to read a book that doesn't suck up to Gygax at the expense of Dave Arneson.

  6. Indeed DHBoggs, the composition of the video is what makes it problematic. And yeah, besides some trolls and some particularly foolhardy folks on either side, this type of arguments belong to a different time in the history of our fandom. We should have moved on from this.


Dave Arneson's True Genius Now as PDF from Rob Kuntz and TLS

  I just got an email informing me about this the other day. Rob Kuntz and Three Line Studios have sold out the first print run of Dave Arne...