Gary Gygax

While the specifics may be open to debate, it’s agreed that Gary Gygax invented the roleplaying game. He passed away on Tuesday, 4 March 2008.

It made me think about how young a hobby roleplaying is, effectively formulated in 1974, some years before my birth. Okay, videogames are an even younger medium, but mainstream roleplaying has not changed all that much in thirty years.

It made me think about life. Gygax was active in gaming all the way to the end, but apart from starting up the whole roleplaying scene, he has not had much of an influence on it since the original Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not saying this to put the man down, he has all the humble recognition I can give to a man who has defined much of what makes me through his work. This is in no way an exaggeration, either: I am a gamer through and through, only second to being a husband and a human being, and Dungeons & Dragons really started it all. Although I play far fewer roleplaying games these days than I used to, I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing.

I don’t mean that it’s a failure on Gygax’s part that he wasn’t more visible in the roleplaying scene since his visionary initial work. It’s weird how your work can surpass and bypass yourself. When I think about great things I might achieve in my life, it’s always with myself in the picture, too. Maybe I’m just being narcissist or maybe it’s easy to get lost in great things. We’re all just humans, after all.

2 Comments

  1. Kai

    I remember Gygax’s name on the original D&D books I pored over as a kid. I came across him again several years later when he started his “On a Soapbox” column in Dragon Magazine which for some reason my school library subscribed to.

    While it’s true that his work spawned roleplaying games in the modern sense, I do feel he was later surpassed by the subsequent writers and designers. So, while Gygax was a clear pioneer in RPG’s, his biggest legacy will be the countless modern gamers his work inspired.

  2. Think about modern gaming as a whole. The groundwork was mostly laid in the hippie era. All the ideas and the whole ideology of wasting time and flipping your finger at productivity are still there. Names may fade, sure, but the legacy still lives strong and unchanged.

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