Gygax, 'Dungeons and Dragons' Co-Creator, Dies
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With co-creator Dave Arneson, E. Gary Gygax developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. Gygax died Monday at age 69. AP/Family photo
All Things Considered, March 4, 2008 · Imagine a mournful horn echoing across thousands of fantasy worlds: E. Gary Gygax, the co-creator of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, died Wednesday morning. He was 69.
Gary Gygax was an icon to fans of the game, many of whom would show up at his home in Lake Geneva, Wis.
What began as a fantasy game published in book form in the early 1970s, eventually morphed and tumbled onto kitchen tables and dorm room floors. Players assumed the character of elves and dwarves, magicians and swordsmen, and confronted the primal conflict between good and evil.
"D&D," as fans call it, is the granddaddy of popular online games that attract hundreds of thousands of gamers to the Internet today.
As a true geek myself, I must admit that Mr. Gygax without exaggeration is personally responsible for some of the most enjoyable moments in my life. He created a game that combined all the elements that excite geeks the world over, such as elves and dwarves, magicians, swordsmen, and the primal conflict between good and evil, with the element of real social interaction, which is so sorely lacking in many of today's computer generated games.
Gygax's game has the reputation for being everything from a "Friday Night alternative to a real life" to a "Demonic act of Satan Worship." In fact, what Gygax, with co-creator Dave Arneson, did was create an alternative to sports teams for those among us who can't participate in or don't like sports. The Role Playing Game, which essentially began with D&D, can bring many of the benefits of school sports programs to students who are unable to participate in those programs. If you have the hand-eye coordination of a slug, like myself, how are you going to experience the team-building and collaboration skills that come with being on the soccer or football team? Of course, even if I had the body of an athelete, I don't like sports in general. What do we, the athletically disposessed, do with eachother for a fun social activity? We game. We gather around the table with our dice, our books, and our carb-rich snackfoods, and we have some of the most fun moments you'll ever have with a group of people.
Gary, you are a great pioneer and a hero to many. You will be missed. God Bless.