I was saddened to read that Donald Featherstone passed away last Tuesday (reported here). While certainly not a household name, he was a giant who had a remarkable influence on modern gaming culture. As I mentioned before, he helped popularize wargaming, turning the childish activity of playing with toy soldiers into a hobby for adults. Dungeons & Dragons would evolve out of this hobby (one of D&D's creators, Gary Gygax, started as a wargamer; he even published Chainmail, a set of rules for medieval wargames). Of course, D&D would essentially spawn the entire role-playing industry, including video and computer games like World of Warcraft.
On a personal note, Featherstone certainly influenced my gaming life. On his bookshelves, my father had a copy of Featherstone’s War Game Campaigns.
I repeatedly and excitedly read the battle reports and pored over the pictures of hordes of figures marching across the table top. I even tried to play one of the campaigns. Unfortunately, this book is actually for advanced wargamers so it doesn’t have all the rules and guidelines a beginner would need to get playing. Still, this book fired my imagination and spurred my interest in wargaming. For that, I owe Mr. Featherstone a great big thank you!