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A Tribute to Gary Gygax 1938 - 2008

Jon Wood Posted:
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A Tribute to Gary Gygax 1938 - 2008

On March 4th, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons. After the outpouring of responses in our report, we present you with and ask you to participate in this small tribute to a man who touched a number of our lives.

On March 4th, the world lost Gary Gygax. Considered by many to be the father of role playing games, Gygax is credited with the co-creation of Dungeons and Dragons and was co-founder of TSR, the brand that led the world of RPGs until it was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. Gygax was 69 at the time of his death and is survived by his wife and six children.

While inventing a game like Dungeons and Dragons won’t get you household name recognition, Gygax was a legend (and I don’t use that term freely) in the RPG industry and with role players worldwide. So much so that to this day one of my favorite episodes of Futurama features an animated version of Gygax. :“It’s a… *rolls dice, sees result*… pleasure to meet you.”

Closer to home for MMORPG players, Gygax also lent his voice to Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online, appropriately filling the role of the Dungeon Master, describing elements of the setting to the adventurers. It seems fitting then that after his death, he was remembered by players in-game in a number of different events across the game’s servers.

When the powers that be here at MMORPG.com asked me to write this tribute, I wasn’t sure what exactly I should say. Having never had the opportunity to meet the man, I wasn’t sure that it was appropriate to sit down at my keyboard and talk about him in a meaningful way. When I thought about it though, I realized that while it’s true that I never met him, that didn’t stop him from having a dramatic impact on my life and on the lives of many of the people who frequent MMOs today.

Every day it seems, we hear about someone else, someone that we’ve heard of who has passed away. Often, we say “how sad” and no matter how much we mean it, we move on with our days, unaffected in any real way by the passing of a celebrity. When I heard that Gary Gygax had passed away, it was more than just a fleeting moment of sadness for someone I had heard of but never met. I was genuinely upset by the news, as though I had personally lost something special. Looking around the web over the last few days, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way as thousands and thousands of people who, having never met the man, flocked to pay some kind of tribute in their own ways.

I am sure that the friends and family of Gary Gygax can and do remember him fondly for the man that he was outside of the world of Dungeons and Dragons; his hopes and fears, his kindnesses, his humor, and all of the things that defined him as a wonderful human being, loved and cherished by those who knew him. To me though, there is no more fitting tribute that those of us who knew Mr. Gygax only through our enjoyment of his creation, than to share a story about how that creation impacted on our lives.

With that being said, I strongly encourage each of you who are reading this to take a minute and respond in our forums with your own Dungeons and Dragons story. It doesn’t have to be long, but it feels like the best way that we have to pay tribute to a man who, without having met us, still managed to touch our lives.


Jon Wood