Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Essay: RIP Mr. Gygax

Every Wednesday, I have an essay on any topic that catches my fancy!

I had just written this SF Signal-worthy essay last night that I thought would be perfect for today. But then, I woke up, started writing a story (strangely enough, about death), and then took a break only to hear the news: Gary Gygax, the creator of D&D (and RPGs), just passed away.

There are two things I want to get off my chest. The first is how important games are to people. Last year, many bloggers mourned the loss of their favorite authors. (Of course reading through the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror obituaries, one realizes that writers are as mortal as anyone else and several of them die year after year.) People talk at how much a certain book or author has impacted them and changed their lives. For me, the same goes for gaming. It could be my childhood playing Monopoly. Or my pre-adolescent years playing Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter. Or my high school years spent with Magic: The Gathering. And then, finally, Dungeons & Dragons. I can definitely say I wouldn't be the person who I am today without those games, not just for the recreation they provided, but for the relationships that came along with them. Many forget that games are a social activity as well as an entertaining pastime. Strangely enough, while my list of favorite books is in constant flux, my list of favorite games (maybe because I've been playing less) has more or less been fixed. And Dungeons & Dragons is easily in my top five.

Second, I'm a late bloomer. I never played the original D&D. My experiences with AD&D was brief. And by the time I was fully into Dungeons & Dragons, well, I was a college gamer in the Philippines. So I never really met Gary Gygax nor did I really have the desire to meet him. But I can respect him and the game that he started. And to other gamers, I'm sure he's had a bigger impact in their lives. Moreover, my favorite game designers probably wouldn't be the same people if it hadn't been for Gygax's influence in their lives. He's the 3,000-pound elephant in the room. You're either building on his foundation or going against it (or taking a different path).

May you rest in peace, Mr. Gygax. I don't have any good advice so I'll steal from Chris Pramas: "There's no better way to honor him than playing some D&D--of any edition--this week."


Guillaume Godbout said...

Hi Charles,

Just wanted to indicate that Steve Jackson, creator of Steve Jackson Games and GURPS, also put a tribute on the front page of his company web site. You can red it in its enterity at

Charles said...