Over on rec.arts.sf.written, there's a thread where people are speculating "What if D&D had never been introduced?"
Remus Shepherd writes:
Go read Slashdot.org and their announcement of this news. A lot of computer programmers are giving D&D credit for their ability to understand rulesets, alter environments, and think creatively.
D&D had enormous impact on our world, and I don't know what popular culture, including movies, games and literature, would look without it.
How much of D&D's influence was due to Gygax is arguable, but he's definitely an icon for an entire generation of gamers and dreamers.
Jason Maxwell writes in reply:
Absolutely. I understand that there are a number of arguments about who did what and did Gygax really put forth the best option etc. etc. etc. What can't be understated though is the amount of influence that Gygax's choices had on kids of the 70's and 80's. By getting D&D out there and into something close to the "mainstream" it influences a whole generation of kids (and adults I'm sure) and turned them into SF/F fans, led them to computers to play RPGs, increased their vocabulary, exercised their imaginations, etc. He's up there with Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas in the people who created and/or influenced the mass media that affected me the most as a kid. It wasn't until high school that I could really see the affects of SF authors like Heinlein, Asimov, etc.
The iconoclastic ghetto of science fiction and fantasy really has opened up to encompass a very wide world. These two postings illuminate a part of that story.