RPGs before the computer
Role playing games could be said to have started as soon as humans developed and imagination. Kids playing cowboys and Indians or their parents playing principal and the naughty school girl. While these are the simplest of RPG roots, the gaming ideas are a bit more complicated.
Modern RPG’s as we know them though, stemmed from table top war gaming. War games are ancient and varied form culture to culture. While games like Chess and Go are examples of early war games, its later games like Axis and Allies that got things going.
Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax were avid war gamers and fans of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. They had been working on a war game involving controlling small groups of Mid-evil soldiers. It started gaining aspects from Tolkiens series. This evolved into what is known as Dungeons and Dragons (DND) and a category of games called Table Top Role playing games.
Currently the biggest names in this genre are Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS and White Wolf, which all offer their own worlds, rules and types of games.
Table Top role playing games still exist and are quite popular. While these are played, the big name companies also have but out numerous RPG video games.
While games have existed on the computer for some time, but it was the Arpanet and a game called Adventure that first offered a glimpse of the future.
Wikipedia on role playing
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