Gary Gygax: 1938-2008

If you are not a gamer, or related to a gamer, or you do not hang around with gamers, you may be unaware of Gary Gygax, one of the co-founders of Dungeons & Dragons. Gary Gygax wrote a great deal of the early D&D and Advanced D&D books, of which I own most. His name is prominently displayed on the covers and indirectly had enourmous impact on my childhood. A large set of my friends growing up were people I played D&D and Battletech with. While we would have probably found things to do without the gaming aspects, we bonded and throve inside the gaming world that we created. No romances bloomed that I’m aware of, but of the people from high school that I still talk to, 75% of them were friends that I gamed with.

While I haven’t played any D&D in a long time (frankly, I haven’t gamed in a long time) the name Gary Gygax still pulls me back to middle school and high school game sessions, solving puzzles and killing monsters. He provided for us an environment where we could do whatever we want. His creation allowed us to explore fantasy realms that would have been unimaginable without the prompting of the game setting (I’m aware of the irony of the term “structured freedom”).

It’s been years since I was involved in anything that Gary Gygax was directly related to. His association with D&D ended in the mid 80′s and since then his other projects have been things I wasn’t interested in. His creation of the original D&D is enough legacy, though, to pull me back and to make me remark on the passing of a man who has affected so many.

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2 Responses to Gary Gygax: 1938-2008

  1. Kim Bosco says:

    I’ve discovered something recently. In our generation, many people actually played D&D but everybody had at least heard of it. My students, born in the late 80s, have either never heard of it or are too embarrassed to admit they have played (I’m guessing the former, actually).

    In my discussion with them on mineral properties, I often try to describe the crystal form and/or cleavage of particular minerals as a d4 or d6 or d8 or d20. They look back at me blankly, so I explain that I’m talking about dice with different numbers of sides, you know, like D&D or other dice role playing games. The blank stares continue.

    It makes me feel old. (Although not as old as I felt the day I was teaching about volcanoes and asked if any of them remembered when Mt St Helens erupted. Not a peep. NONE of them had been born yet, nor would they be for another five or six or seven years…)

    I’m very sad to hear of Gary’s passing. I’ve had many a fun weekend with my colorful d20s and d8s and d6s, my friends, and countless cold pizzas. Thanks for the memories.

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