This past weekend marked my daughter's tenth birthday. One of the gifts she received was a video game she'd wanted, a -- if you can believe it -- cheerleading simulation. Anyway, as I watched her play this game, I noticed that, to play, she first had to create a character and that, through play, her character acquired experience points to represent her virtual cheerleader's increase in skill. At certain XP thresholds, her character acquired new moves and access to other goodies unavailable to less experienced characters.
Now, none of this is exactly clever or innovative. Literally thousands of video games over the last quarter century or more have included such game mechanical architecture. But I think, given how far removed conceptually my daughter's game was from Dungeons & Dungeons, that this was the first time I well and truly understood the extent to which those three little brown books forever changed the world. The basic gameplay template Gary and Dave laid down in 1974 not only set the course for the vast majority of what followed in its wake but created the concepts and vocabulary that ordinary people, with no connection to D&D or the hobby understand intuitively.
Levels, hit points, character classes, XP: these and many more all achieved their vast currency through their use in D&D -- not a bad legacy for men who loved games as much as Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson did.