The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) is a peer based network of gaming industry professionals whose mission is to promote innovation and excellence in design and production of games and game related materials.
It might seem curious to some that gaming actually has a Hall of Fame. We’ve certainly all grown up with Halls of Fame, especially in the arena of sports, so we have a sense that they memorialize the best and brightest, the people and things that have had the greatest impact on the appropriate subject. Somehow, though, it seems incongruous that we would have a Hall of Fame with people and products being elevated to where they could be compared to Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth. Even those folks elected to that Johnny-come-lately Hall of Fame for Rock and Roll (ours predated it by over a decade) seem to be more important than our members.
However, it’s not for the outside world that we have a Hall of Fame, it’s for us. In our Hall of Fame we find those people who have made critical contributions to gaming overall. We have those who elevated game design to an art and those who elevated the art found in game design. We have members who have made contributions to the business side of gaming, and those whose contributions have been less in design and production than in service to the industry as a whole.
And we have the greatest fruits of their labors enshrined there as well.
I can think of no other honor that thrilled me more than being elected to the Hall of Fame. Members are chosen by their peers, and the competition is fierce, so being elected is at once an attaboy and a thank you by those people who know you and what you’ve gone through. And the best part, perhaps, is that the election comes with no jealousy, but smiles and nods that say, “You go on along ahead. I’ll be there soon enough.”
There are some interesting situations when you look at the membership of the Hall of Fame. Small companies fare pretty well in getting members elected, with Flying Buffalo, Inc., having the highest per capita ratio of employees to members. This points less to jealousy of big companies that prevents their employees from making it, than to the vibrancy of an industry where a person with talent, a good idea, and the guts to bring both to market can make a serious impact on the industry. Face it, everyone who is in the Hall of Fame walked away from the wider world where they could have made much more money, just because they wanted to follow a dream.
So, while our Hall of Fame members might not be as recognizable as their sports counterparts, they’re just as special. They’ve helped shape an industry that grew up in the later half of the twentieth century, through “fadness” into a phenomenon that gets mentioned in articles, on TV, in films; a pastime that has entertained millions worldwide for decades, and will continue to do so. Instead of playing at a game others created, they’ve defined, redefined, innovated and expanded something new, something special, something that invites participation, not just watching.
And, without a doubt, the best part of it all is that they’ve done this for the love of the hobby. Not for money. Not for acclaim. Just for that smile from someone who has fun playing what you’ve done. So, our Hall of Fame celebrates them, and has plenty more room for the rest of you, when you get there.