Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gary Gygax: Requiem

The internet is abuzz with news, in-jokes, award plans, honorariums, and stories about the pathfinder, Gary E. Gygax who passed away at the age of 69 (beating the life-expectancy for writers by 1 year). Gary did not act alone in his creation of Dungeons and Dragons, but he is honored nonetheless as the person responsible for making a game we all chipped our teeth on.

Those of us in our 30s and 40s, we owe a great deal to Gary and Dave Arneson for their efforts.

But for all the noise, most people aren't really saying much. Many are racing to make saving throw jokes or find ways to express how "speechless" they are. And as some one who has made a habit/living in an industry that did not really exist before D&D (certainly Gencon was just a club before D&D), I too should be saying something.


But why aren't I moved to write or say thanks. Certainly when news of Eric Wujick's health was posted, I was quick to pen some kind words and tell Eric I hope to see him soon.

Why then am I devoid of emotions or speeches for Gary Gygax?

Most likely, the industry is getting older. More and more people are reaching the age where cancer is a possibility. Many of us have lost friends and family. Others are numb to things like -10 Hit Point jokes because we have been surrounded by this kind of blissfulness for 30 years now (crap I've been playing for 26 years). And truth be told, while Gary gave us the tools to spark our imaginations, he didn't give us our imaginations.

And while I would love to thank the guy who invented matches, it's not the same as thanking someone for inventing fire. Maybe I wouldn't be working in a creative field if it weren't for D&D. Maybe I'd be stuck somewhere thinking that managing a Denny's is just what happens to poor, white-trash kids with no connections. And maybe without D&D I wouldn't even know what it is to be some banal cubicle drone, whittling away my days with free cell and yahoo groups.

But I'm going to be 38 this year.

Gaming is less and less a part of my life anymore. Gary's presence dominated my environment 15 years ago.

But not today.

Losing an uncle you haven't seen in 20 years is much different than losing a friend you see every Wednesday.


Thank you for enriching my childhood. And you will be missed. But please understand, that I haven't been impacted by you in so long... well... I guess I'm just not going to weep or mourn or even ruminate over what you've given me. I get tired of living in the past, and my only hope is that I can honor your passing by making great games for the future, by gaming and telling stories as much as possible, and once per convention slipping in a bad saving throw pun, even if it pains me to do it.

Thanks for all you've given us and if there are Seven Heavens and you're up there gaming, I hope Gord the Rogue is having a hell of a time.