PopTen's Top 10 Geek Gods Includes Gygax, Salvatore, and Livingstone
  • PopTen's Top 10 Geek Gods Includes Gygax, Salvatore, and Livingstone


    PopTen posted a list of the Top 10 Geek Gods, and with entries like Gary Gygax, Ian Livingstone, and R.A. Salvatore, the tabletop gaming industry is well represented, joining literary luminaries like Tolkien, LeGuin, and Howard, or cinematic creators like George Lucas. It's a fun list, but who would you have included in a tabletop gaming list?




    The PopTen list:

    • H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds, etc.)
    • J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)
    • Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian)
    • Ralph Baer (first home video game console)
    • Ursula K. LeGuin (Earthsea)
    • Gary Gygax (Dungeons & Dragons)
    • George Lucas (Star Wars)
    • Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson*, John Peake (PopTen calls them "anonymous", but by name)
    • R.A. Salvatore (a Drizzt)
    • Richard Garfield (Magic: the Gathering)

    *No, the other Steve Jackson
    Comments 38 Comments
    1. 77IM's Avatar
      77IM -
      How is H. P. Lovecraft not on there? It seems like you can't take a 5-foot step without bumping into some Cthulhu mashup or derivative.

      Really, if you read the fine print, this list is not the Geek Gods, it's the Fantasy-Gaming Gods, which explains the absence of more widely-known geek luminaries such as Gene Roddenberry and Stan Lee. Consequently, I rate this list's title 45% clickbait.
    1. Maggan's Avatar
      Maggan -
      For table-top list:

      Greg Stafford
      Dave Arneson
      Gary Gygax
      Steve Jackson
      Steve Jackson
      Ian Livingstone
      Bryan Ansell
      Richard Halliwell
      Rick Priestley
      Marc Miller


      Also I think Mary Shelley should be in there if we include literary giants.
    1. RevTurkey's Avatar
      RevTurkey -
      I very much approve of LeGuin making the list
    1. Anthro78 -
      Hey, I only know these ten guys, so they're my top ten! seems to be the reasoning behind that list. Lovecraft, Poe, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, are just a few who should at least merit mention. That's the problem with these 'top 10' style lists - they just reflect the slice of the genre that the writer is aware of.
    1. Ace-Azzameen's Avatar
      Ace-Azzameen -
      Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
      How is H. P. Lovecraft not on there? It seems like you can't take a 5-foot step without bumping into some Cthulhu mashup or derivative.

      Really, if you read the fine print, this list is not the Geek Gods, it's the Fantasy-Gaming Gods, which explains the absence of more widely-known geek luminaries such as Gene Roddenberry and Stan Lee. Consequently, I rate this list's title 45% clickbait.
      Lovecraft is very "problematic" for some people, so for that reason only, he is denied kudos. Perhaps not in this particular case, but others.
    1. Askaval30 -
      Frank Mentzer should be an auto include in any rpg list!
    1. Ghal Maraz's Avatar
      Ghal Maraz -
      Salvatore? Salvatore??? Really? Well... no. Not at all.
    1. cuscus -
      Michael Moorcock!!
    1. choam10191's Avatar
      choam10191 -
      Salvatore doesn't even remotely belong in that company.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      I'd probably replace Salvatore with Mark Rein*Hagen or Shigeru Miyamoto. Wells also deserves a double-mention for Little Wars.

      Edited to add: though, if you wanted a TSR fiction author in there, I'd go with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman over Salvatore for impact.
    1. Lanefan -
      Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
      How is H. P. Lovecraft not on there? It seems like you can't take a 5-foot step without bumping into some Cthulhu mashup or derivative.
      The copyright ran out a few years ago on (most? all?) of Lovecraft's work, meaning everybody and their little dog Toto can now freely make use of it. And as it's still popular for some reason, that's exactly what's happening.

      Really, if you read the fine print, this list is not the Geek Gods, it's the Fantasy-Gaming Gods, which explains the absence of more widely-known geek luminaries such as Gene Roddenberry and Stan Lee. Consequently, I rate this list's title 45% clickbait.
      Yeah: Salvatore out; Roddenberry in. After that, while there's various people one might include who do you bump to make room?

      Lanefan
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      Apparently that list was posted in 2010!
    1. 77IM's Avatar
      77IM -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      Yeah: Salvatore out; Roddenberry in. After that, while there's various people one might include who do you bump to make room?
      If we're talking about broader geek culture, then we need to include someone to represent the comic book geeks (Stan Lee seems like the obvious choice, even if there were more influential people back in the beginning), and the computer geeks (I'm going to give this to Linus Torvalds, over such other strong candidates as Gates, Wozniak, and Babbage), and the video game geeks (if I can only pick one, it's Shigeru Miyamoto). So that's at least 3 more spots needed. I'm not sure there's a singular luminary who can represent anime geeks, or robotics geeks, or cosplay geeks, or maker geeks, or horror geeks, or SCA geeks, or... well, the list goes on and on and gets increasingly niche.

      So I'd scratch off Games Workshop: wargaming is cool, but it's too niche to make the top 10. And ditto for Richard Garfield and M:tG. And Ralph Baer is not nearly as famous as Miyamoto. And much though I like LeGuin's work, I don't think she's been as influential as Stephen King or J. K. Rowling or Jules Verne or Mary Shelley or any number of other famous authors, so that one's a bit iffy to me. (TBH deciding between all the famous authors would probably be the hardest part of such a list...)

      Finally, regardless of whether we're considering broader geek culture or just the narrow band of fantasy-gaming culture, I think I'd put Dave Arneson's name up there along side Gary Gygax's, as part of the same entry (the way the Games Workshop guys get three names on one line). The two co-creators of D&D contributed very different things to the early game but I think both were essential.
    1. Ghal Maraz's Avatar
      Ghal Maraz -
      Apart from the fact that (science) fantasy tabletop miniature wargame is hardly more niche than RPGs (while it's true that many, many concepts introduced by the like of D&D has been highly influential on the videogame industry) - in fact I would say it's the other way around -, Jackson and Livingstone are also the minds behind the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (and thus, behind all the Eighties' gamebooks' movement), and Livingstone alone has been President of Eidos Interactive, with a guiding hand on some high profile franchises like Tomb Raider and Hitman.

      And still we have Salvatore on that list.
    1. chibi graz'zt's Avatar
      chibi graz'zt -
      Why is Salvatore listed on the same list as Tolkien; really? One is a 2-bit fantasy writer, the other a linguist who practically invented the fantasy genre. Even Martin and Sanderson have more right to be on a top 10 than Salvatore.
    1. VengerSatanis -
      H.P. Lovecraft all night long!
    1. Celebrim's Avatar
      Celebrim -
      I think it highly likely Mr. Gygax would be deeply offended by this 'honor'.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
      I think it highly likely Mr. Gygax would be deeply offended by this 'honor'.
      What an odd thing to say.
    1. redrick's Avatar
      redrick -
      It's an odd list.

      That being said, for better or worse, Gygax is definitely a "geek god." Not only did he co-create the first major rpg which enjoys significant popularity and cachet (in geek circles) to this day, but he is also cited to win all manner of arguments. No cogent RPG argument is complete without a well-sourced Gygax quote. It's like citing Marx or Engels when publishing a physics paper in the Soviet Union.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by chibi graz'zt View Post
      Why is Salvatore listed on the same list as Tolkien; really? One is a 2-bit fantasy writer, the other a linguist who practically invented the fantasy genre. Even Martin and Sanderson have more right to be on a top 10 than Salvatore.
      How could you rank Martin? Has he even finished a series?
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