I can't remember where I came across this little aphorism (for some reason I have it in my head that it was in a Luis Bunuel interview), and I am almost certainly misremembering it, but the gist of it is as follows: if you had to eliminate from history two people from the list of Isaac Newton, Gustave Eiffel and Albert Einstein, you would have to choose Newton and Einstein. Their discoveries would eventually have been made by other people, because they concern immutable laws of the universe. But Eiffel's tower would never have existed without him. You could therefore afford to lose from the path of human development the two great scientists as individuals, but not the clever French engineer.
You may not agree that the Eiffel Tower is anything to write home about, but the point remains: some great works are inevitable. Others are flashes of insight that are truly unique. All other things being equal, the latter are probably the more valuable.
Would the achievements of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson fall into the Newton/Einstein or Eiffel category? I think I know the answer. But I'm curious to hear yours.
Put your thoughts in the comments. We will revisit the matter tomorrow.