The man was truly a phenomenon. Born to be a nobody in working-class Britain (His mother’s great ambition was for him to became a draper) he instead went on to become a groundbreaking science fiction writer, advocate for free love (during the Victorian age no less), and the inventor of the entire gaming hobby as we know it today.
Do you play Halo? Warhammer 40K? 15mm Napoleonic miniatures games? Dungeons and Dragons? Thank H.G!
Wells published the worlds first set or wargaming rules back in 1913. It had the rather exhaustive full title of; Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books. It was a simple set of rules for the one to three-inch tin soldiers that were popular in the day. Rules covered simple infantry, calvary movement and for artillery, a spring-loaded toy cannon was used to knock down troops with wooden cannonballs.
What does this have to do with Halo, you ask? Or even with Dungeons and Dragons? After all, shooting tin toys with wooden cannon balls seems worlds removed from blazing away at Covenant aliens from a Warthog with a mini-gun…or dose it? Everything has a beginning, often crude but without beginnings, there would be no stories.
H.G Wells got gaming started. He envisioned a structured game with models wherein players took on the imaginary rolls of war heroes and strove to outdo each other in fictitious combat. And whether you roll multisided dice or maneuver your thumbs over a game controller, you now know who’s your hobby’s daddy is; a dearly departed, science fiction genius and renaissance man named Herbert Goerge Wells.
And thanks, H.G, from all of us.
By Clayton J. Callahan