It was sort of sad to see NightBird's take on meeting Gygax from that thread last year; I guess we hold people to have more of a level of professionalism and are disappointed when they just don't measure up. It's a bad thing to see at a con, where you get all the movers and shakers to mingle with the fans and customers, and it's supposed to be a fun and inspiring event. At least it always manages to be for me.
And let's face it; D&D has had its share of critics over the years, but both of these guys were laughing all the way to the bank at their critics with the legacy they left. When they met at that convention in 1969, the entire gaming genre was much smaller and much more limited than it is today. It was more historical miniatures gaming, not so much the fantasy and sci-fi aspect, and of course computer gaming would not come for decades.
Now it's impossible to imagine the genre without their input. Besides D&D which is still selling strong, they've influenced or spun off other tabletop games. All the fantasy MMO's are influenced by the general shape and rule sets of what they created in 1974. Everquest was the first big one and still remains, currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary. At last count, Warcraft alone claims at least 10 million players.
What they've left behind is a genre that's inspired and loved by millions worldwide and in age categories that are far wider than many people think, that's been overwhelmingly a positive output. The occasional unbalanced individual that plays something in the genre and then goes out to do something wacko didn't do it because of a game, but just like rock and roll before it, there are naysayers who are quick to blame the new media, and are either incapable or unwilling to diagnose the true problems that plague society.
The true beauty of it all is that between tabletop and online, this stuff isn't going anywhere, in fact it gets bigger and more sophisticated with time, and has left a rich and layered history to draw on. The stacks of books, modules, and box sets I have for Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, and others are like a quarter century of archives to dive into when I need them.
It strikes me as somehow funny that this stuff can be regarded in certain circles as the 'quintessential geek pastime', as it was put in a Yahoo news article on this, when we have more mainstream sections of the population that will put a foam rubber block of cheese on their head and paint their face blue as they watch their favorite sports team. Einstein was absolutely correct; the universe is relative (and relevant) to the observer. Arneson and Gygax left a powerful legacy that is only going to continue on from here...let the critics sulk there's no going back now.
Yeah, I know, I'm just preaching to the choir here, but the weight of what they got rolling simply can't be overstressed.