Tributes to Gary

Wizards of the Coast posted this notice on the front page of its D&D website yesterday:

JULY 27, 1938 – MARCH 4, 2008

Today, Wizards of the Coast was deeply saddened to learn that Gary Gygax passed away in his home at age 69. Gygax was a co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragons game. His innovation created an entirely new type of hobby that now attracts millions of players worldwide to face-to-face and online roleplaying games. Gygax was a grand storyteller renowned for his unique style, sprawling “Gygaxian” adventures, and the fantastic World of Greyhawk. He inspired generations of players, designers, and authors, and he will be sorely missed by legions of fans. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Aaron Williams departed from the normal schedule for his Full Frontal Nerdity webcomic in order to post a special strip and a written tribute. John Kovalic did likewise in today’s Dork Tower cartoon. The mainstream news media covered Gygax’s passing (Ruth reports hearing a story about it on All Things Considered) and the leading geek sites (Wired, Ars Technica, CNet, GameSpy) all posted sentimental eulogies. Everyone seems to have a story about how the man and his game gave them uncountable hours of joy and adventure as they grew up.

In a 2004 interview, Gygax said, “I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else.” I don’t think there’s any question about it: his wish has been granted.

I think the best Gygax tribute of all is an eight-year-old episode of Futurama in which he appears (alongside Nichelle Nichols and Stephen Hawking) as a member of Al Gore’s Vice Presidential Action Rangers, charged with protecting the space-time continuum.

Sometime in the fall of this year, I will have been playing D&D for thirty years. Except that I don’t really play it anymore. Everyone in my gaming group is very busy, myself included, and in recent months finding a time when we’re all available has become virtually impossible. Thinking about this a few days ago, I found myself wondering if it wasn’t time to accept the fact that D&D was a thing of the past for me. Nothing lasts forever, and perhaps this part of my life was finally over.

Well, I’m not gonna do that. Not now. Not when Gary Gygax isn’t even cold yet. Not with the 4th Edition about to arrive in stores, and my 30-year anniversary as a D&D player mere months in the future. Hell, no! I refuse to just let it slip away. Somehow, somewhere, I will play this game again. And today, just to prove to myself that I’m still a D&D player, I’m going to buy some new dice.

UPDATE: The 4th Edition of D&D will be dedicated to Gygax.

More tributes: Penny Arcade, The Order of the Stick (comic, blog), Salon, Wil Wheaton, Steve Jackson, XKCD, New York Times

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