Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On the passing of Gary Gygax

For those of you who haven’t caught wind of the recent news, Ernest Gary Gygax – co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and a pioneer of tabletop roleplaying – has passed.

Even now, Gary is being memorialized by our geeky peers in a manner befitting a gentleman of his standing. I’m sure there’s little I can say that hasn’t already been covered by those more astute and well-spoken than I, but I don’t reckon I’ll let that stop me. I can't imagine many of us who are active participants in the geekier side of popular culture would be doing what we do if not for Gary, particularly those of us who fancy ourselves writers.

The worlds he helped to forge provided many of us a canvas upon which to paint idealized versions of our flawed and corruptible selves. Around that table we weren’t lonely and awkward kids; we were paladins, warriors, and rogues. We found ourselves transformed from a motley crew of neighborhood chums to a party of daring adventurers.

His game gave us a voice. It gave us a realm of wonder and fantasy to explore with our friends. Goblins to slay and treasure to discover. It rewarded our creativity and helped to foster our ingenuity. Moreover, it provided us a mechanism through which to tell our own stories.

In truth, it wasn’t until I discovered D&D (and, yes, a number of other similar games) that I ever felt I had tales worth telling, that I ever felt that I was a part of that grand tradition of southern storytellers. My now infamous and much mocked tattoo isn’t just about embracing my dorky nature, it’s about acknowledging the reason that I began to write. And now it’s about memorializing yet another in a long succession of fallen heroes.

Gygax was just a man, as small and flawed as any of us, but he helped a generation embrace storytelling and nerdy camaraderie as an active pastime. He helped an innumerable number of misfit kids find brotherhood with paper and dice. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on.

For we are that legacy.


Church said...

Thanks, Gary, for giving us nerds a social pastime.

funky49 said...


'wield my sword
making them blows
three sixes
my strength
my muscle shows'

Z. said...

Exactly, Church. I feel that it's the social aspect of D&D that afforded some of the earliest nerd communities.

And, funk, well said, brother. I guess my D&D mixtape just became a little more relevant.