So, I found a copy of this book floating about, and I thought I'd give it a read, and write up my thoughts here.
Gygax had something that a lot of modern games, focused on interpersonal relationships and high drama, miss out on in the big picture: a real sense of fun. It's clear he loved the game he made, and the other he played. He marks out one of the big differences between RPGs and other forms of entertainment - immersion. Not just from the point of view that you are acting out your own tale,but that you have the chance to actively interact with another person's
He also looks at "The Spirit" of games - the way they are intended to be played. Here's his take on D&D...
"For example purposes (and despite already having made the point that the spirit of a game cannot be defined in so many words), I shall attempt to characterize the spirit of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. This is a fantasy RPG predicated on the assumption that the human race, by and large, is made up of good people. Humans, with the help of their demi-human allies (dwarfs, elves, gnomes, etc.), are and should remain the predominant force in the world. They have achieved and continue to hold on to this status, despite the ever-present threat of evil, mainly because of the dedication, honor, and unselfishness of the most heroic humans and demi-humans-the characters whose roles are taken by the players of the game. Although players can take the roles of “bad guys” if they so choose, and if the game master allows it, evil exists in the game primarily as an obstacle for player characters to overcome. If they succeed in doing this, as time goes on, player characters become more experienced and more powerful - which enables them to contest successfully against increasingly stronger evil adversaries. Each character, by virtue of his or her chosen profession, has strengths and weaknesses distinctly different from those possessed by other types of characters. No single character has all the skills and resources needed to guarantee success in all endeavors; favorable results can usually only be achieved through group effort. No single player character wins, in the sense that he or she defeats all other player characters; the goal of the forces of good can only be attained through cooperation, so that victory is a group achievement rather than an individual one."
For some reason, this quote has really rung with me - I mean, it's such a succinct take on "Heroic Fantasy". It's also cool as all fuck.
I'll write up a proper review and thoughts/quotes from each chapter once I've got the chance to read the whole thing, but there you go!