D&D General When D&D Co-Creator Dave Arneson Asked WotC For A Job!

Back in 1997, after WotC had purchased the failing TSR (and D&D), and just prior to the launch of D&D 3E, Dave Arneson -- who co-created D&D in the 1970s along with Gary Gygax -- wrote to WotC president Peter Adkison asking to be put in charge of TSR.

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Ben Riggs -- author of Slaying the Dragon -- discovered Arneson's letter to Adkison while researching his history of D&D.


The letter was full of typos -- Arneson even got Adkison's name wrong! According to Riggs, Adkison did not reply, and Arneson wrote to him a second time.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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MGibster

Legend
Generally speaking, how long do you take to scan a resume?
Generally speaking, the only time I assist with recruiting is with interns and entry level positions. It typically takes me 30-60 seconds to scan a resume and move on. What I'm doing is checking the resume to make sure the applicant has minimum qualifications in order to move on to the next step. If there's something on the resume I'm not sure whether it fits the minimum requirements, I'll take a little extra time to make sure. When you submit a resume, make sure it contains all the qualifications the job description requires.
 

Generally speaking, the only time I assist with recruiting is with interns and entry level positions. It typically takes me 30-60 seconds to scan a resume and move on. What I'm doing is checking the resume to make sure the applicant has minimum qualifications in order to move on to the next step. If there's something on the resume I'm not sure whether it fits the minimum requirements, I'll take a little extra time to make sure. When you submit a resume, make sure it contains all the qualifications the job description requires.
Thats reasonable. I was told rule of thumb is that HR or whoever is doing the hiring will usually scan your resume for 30 seconds, but that you don't need to meet all the requirements, but a good portion of them. Also, that not submitting your resume because you don't have all the qualifications can be doing yourself a disservice. It just goes to show how things differ depending on who you talk to. The subject of proper resume and cover letter writing, and submittal seems to change over time and as technology advances.
 

adamantyr

Adventurer
"The Game Wizards" is definitely a good book, I'm in the process of reading it and so far, Arneson's attitudes and actions match up perfectly with that cover letter.

I always thought a biopic or similar of the founders of RPG's would be kind of fun. The only problem is it probably wouldn't work with "real" people. Something like how "Halt and Catch Fire" handled it would be cool.
 

MGibster

Legend
Thats reasonable. I was told rule of thumb is that HR or whoever is doing the hiring will usually scan your resume for 30 seconds, but that you don't need to meet all the requirements, but a good portion of them.
With more than 10,000,000 employers in the United States, practices can vary quite a bit. At my company, HR reviews the resumes and passes on the most promising ones to the hiring manager. If you do not meet the qualifications for the job, the hiring manager will never see your resume. If you submit a resume, the worst thing they can do is just not read it. So it's not like you're hurting yourself by sending one in. I suspect that's what Arneson was doing.
 

As @Von Ether mentioned, it's not so much removing that a candidate went to college at all, just the name. Whether it's an Ivy League or HBCU institution, people could make assumptions based off of just where a person went.

I can understand removing names. What benefit is there from removing a person's education? Wouldn't that be biased to younger people just out of college and entering the work force in favor of someone who has 20 years of experience?

It's still a big variable, depending on where you're applying and what industry. My feeling is that people should know how to write a cover letter, but should not provide one unless it is specifically asked for.

I was speaking to some students at a local university and one of them asked me about cover letters. I told them I don't read them, but some recruiters do. The first thing I do is scan the resume to see if they meet the minimum qualifications for the job regarding education and experience, and if not I reject it right then and there. The recruiter told them that she absolutely reads the resumes. So you never know.
 


Von Ether

Legend
I don't see the big deal. Adkinson knew enough of the history of D&D to recognize the good and ill of Arneson. The letter quickly confirmed the hearsay. Arneson was not hired or even considered for anything because WotC was buying a dead company's assets out of a sense of nostalgia and appreciation. I am not going to drag Arneson. Both he and Gygax, rightfully, have a lot of warm feelings for what they brought into the world, but neither could have done any of it without a lot of luck and a lot of help. We like to, as a society, elevate individuals as being the 'parent' of ideas or inventions, but it is never the case. It is a cult of personality and a desire to simplify things. It is also a bit of a projection of what we want. We want some untapped genius in the wings to solve our gripes with the game. The rightful heir who will return to fix all our problems with the game. Arneson was not that guy. There never is, and never was a 'that guy'. They are all human beings with ugly parts and bad habits who threw a bunch of ideas into a stew. D&D was the result.

And I think that if people were really honest with themselves, they also recognize the bad in themselves through the mistakes of their "heroes" and feel more awkward about it.

I've lost count on the conversations I've had in DM on social media explaining to excited newcomers that no, they can't just use other's IP will nilly or that using non-public domain art they didn't paid for is stealing. (I am bit more tactful in those discussions.) It makes me wonder if "learning about IP the hard way" is like part of game designer evolution since it's been done since the early days of the industry. Same for learning how an OGL vs community content vs fan work.

All of these things could be avoided by doing due diligence, but I assume the excitement and passion for making your own game in a hobby you love makes you forget to doing some research before you publish.
 

Von Ether

Legend
That's probably true of the majority of "successful people."
There's a great article by one of the original investors of Amazon. He was approached by two friends. One was selling luxury watches online, the other books both wanted him to be their angel investor. He figured more people bought books but he doesn't hold that up to being a genius just a lucky guess.

He also says something like My income equals 10,000 middle class families, but I don't buy 10,000 pairs of jeans. [paraphrasing from memory.]
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
That's probably true of the majority of "successful people."
It is a to an extent. But there is more to it. Most successful business people have had several failed businesses first. So persistence is a thing.

Entrepreneurship is an input to business—-so taking risks and keeping at it is also necessary.

Lightning in a bottle stuff surely has some “luck” and some insane things that disrupt could not easily be predicted.

Knowing people who run successful businesses has taught me not to be too jaded. Of course No one predicts Amazon or Facebook and how far they would go.

But I don’t want to discount Gygax’s work or Arneson’s idea as a total fluke, personally.
 


As @Von Ether mentioned, it's not so much removing that a candidate went to college at all, just the name. Whether it's an Ivy League or HBCU institution, people could make assumptions based off of just where a person went.
That is a good point I hadn't considered. Here in WNY you have Alfred State, Dyouville, University at Buffalo, Buffalo State, Rochester Institute of Technology, then lastly the community colleges. All of which are now State Univerity of New York certified, which was not always the case. RIT and UB are considered the best out of them but relatively speaking theyre all pretty equal with the exception of UB for medicine because we have Roswell Cancer hospital and the burgeoning "Medical Cooridor" in Buffalo and RIT is considered superior for engineering type jobs. So I'm sure theres some truth to your stsatement.
It is a to an extent. But there is more to it. Most successful business people have had several failed businesses first. So persistence is a thing.
Just look at how many resteraunts and TV shows all the celebrity chefs have had thad came and went. They always seem to bounce back, except Mario Batali.
 

My feeling is that people should know how to write a cover letter
I agree. One thing has occurred to me. With people using computers, phones and computers to text, email, write documents etc., even with grammar and spell check I think people are likely to overlook the occasional typo, or poor sentence structure in a professional setting. Regardless there's no excuse for not knowing basic communication skills. I feel bad for people who went to school at any level during the pandemic as I'm assuming their education at the time was either sub-par or non-existent. Those 2-3 years could leave them lacking greatly in the fundamentals.
 

darjr

I crit!
D&D put Gygax on the map, but Cyborg Commando secured his position in the pantheon of game designers.
You kid but I think this gets to the central point. The writing and editing and layout and art for cyborg commando was really good, from my memory. The idea and game ideas were bad.

He didn’t have what he’d had with Dave and D&D.
 

Mercurius

Legend
It is a to an extent. But there is more to it. Most successful business people have had several failed businesses first. So persistence is a thing.

Entrepreneurship is an input to business—-so taking risks and keeping at it is also necessary.

Lightning in a bottle stuff surely has some “luck” and some insane things that disrupt could not easily be predicted.

Knowing people who run successful businesses has taught me not to be too jaded. Of course No one predicts Amazon or Facebook and how far they would go.

But I don’t want to discount Gygax’s work or Arneson’s idea as a total fluke, personally.
Yes, of course. But there are lots of factors, not to mention different definitions of what "success" means. But we also live in a specific cultural, societal, and economic context, that privileges certain types of people and personalities and interests. Obviously an artist should persist, and in that sense some of their success is within their own power; but persisting as an artist is a lot different than, say, persisting as a business person or economist or lawyer.

Depending upon the field, economic success correlates to different degrees with quality and aptitude. The highest paid athletes tend to be the best ones, but this isn't necessarily (if at all) the case with artists or intellectuals or people in the service industry, etc. Just as the smartest or most creative person you knew growing up, isn't necessarily the most successful - and this may or may not be due to persistence.

To some extent it goes back to that Calvin Coolidge quote: "the business of America is business." Meaning, it isn't culture or philosophy or art or community - except to the extent that those things serve business (and economics). So we have fused the idea of "success" with economics, and live within an economic system that doesn't encourage imagination, artistry, creativity, or even uniqueness - except to the degree those those things have financial benefit. A vicious cycle, really.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
You kid but I think this gets to the central point. The writing and editing and layout and art for cyborg commando was really good, from my memory. The idea and game ideas were bad.

He didn’t have what he’d had with Dave and D&D.

I think that (1) people often overlook Gygax's stature in the hobbyist community prior to D&D (due to his writing, game design, and founding GenCon), and (2) you would be hard pressed to find a single game designer in the history of the hobby that wouldn't kill for Gygax's output from 1974 - 1984 (basically, until he went to Hollywood in 1983).

It's like when people make jokes about one-hit wonders in music. Do you know how bands out there would KILL for a single hit?

Yeah, other than being responsible for the development of the single most popular RPG in history, founding GenCon, creating some of the most iconic adventures that continue to resonate to this day (Keep, Tomb, Temple, Village, Giants, Tharizdun, etc.), writing a rulebook that people are still in awe of for reasons goof and bad (1e DMG), creating one of the iconic D&D campaign settings (Greyhawk) and adding in the archetypes that continue to populate CRPGs today (such as Paladins, Drow, etc.) ... what did Gygax ever really do?

Sure, as a novelist (Gord series), Gygax was pretty terrible. His later games veered from awful (Cyborg Commando) to ... well, interesting if not successful (DJ, LA).

His issues are already well documented (the Hollywood sojourn, not standing up the Blumes and some of their business decisions, some of his views re: women etc., his selective memory about where ideas came from and so on), but the dude had a heck of a run.
 
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darjr

I crit!
I think that (1) people often overlook Gygax's stature in the hobbyist community prior to D&D (due to his writing, game design, and founding GenCon), and (2) you would be hard pressed to find a single game designer in the history of the hobby that wouldn't kill for Gygax's output from 1974 - 1984 (basically, until he went to Hollywood in 1984).

It's like when people make jokes about one-hit wonders in music. Do you know how bands out there would KILL for a single hit?

Yeah, other than being responsible for the development of the single most popular RPG in history, founding GenCon, creating some of the most iconic adventures that continue to resonate to this day (Keep, Tomb, Temple, Village, Giants, Tharizdun, etc.), writing a rulebook that people are still in awe of for reasons goof and bad (1e DMG), creating one of the iconic D&D campaign settings (Greyhawk) and adding in the archetypes that continue to populate CRPGs today (such as Paladins, Drow, etc.) ... what did Gygax ever really do?

Sure, as a novelist (Gord series), Gygax was pretty terrible. His later games veered from awful (Cyborg Commando) to ... well, interesting if not successful (DJ, LA).

His issues are already well documented (the Hollywood sojourn, not standing up the Blumes and some of their business decisions, some of his views re: women etc., his selective memory about where ideas came from and so on), but the dude had a hack of a run.
Good points, I’m not taking any of that away from him. It’s huge.

Still the point that together they did D&D, that first box set, largely with work by Gygax, given, but it was the thing. They needed each other to do it.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I think that (1) people often overlook Gygax's stature in the hobbyist community prior to D&D (due to his writing, game design, and founding GenCon), and (2) you would be hard pressed to find a single game designer in the history of the hobby that wouldn't kill for Gygax's output from 1974 - 1984 (basically, until he went to Hollywood in 1984).
Minor nitpick, but I believe Gary went to Hollywood in mid-late 1982. Looking back through Flint Dille's autobiographical book The Gamesmaster: Almost Famous in the Geek '80s, he says that he met Gary for the first time in Anaheim, CA at the end of May, 1982, and that "a few weeks later" Gary wrote him and said he was moving out to California and wanted to know if Dille was interested in writing movies with him. He also mentions joining Gary in looking to pick out the residence that would become the Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corporation, where Gary would live while he was out there.
 


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