Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thank You Gary Gygax

On my way out of work today I noticed a couple of emails and some rumblings on Twitter and online that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away. It was soon confirmed and has since hit CNN. I'm still a little shocked, and I almost cried a bit on the way home.

I met him once for only a few seconds but he seemed like a very nice guy, genuine and fun. I won't pretend that I knew him because I didn't - I've heard the stories and have very little to form my own opinion of him aside from a handshake and a few seconds of dialogue - but what he did for me personally is immeasurable.

When I was young I struggled with acceptance for many reasons, not the least of which was a tendency to be more concerned about creative things like looking out the window and imagining stories and dreams than being worried about baseball mitts and football cleats. In my small town, there weren't a lot of kids like me. There was a guy who lived down the street named Nick and we were cut from the same cloth; we read Lone Wolf and played Starflight and Bard's Tale and King's Quest. And we played D&D.

I bought the now-infamous first-ed books used for $5 each. I still have them somewhere too, with the green electrical tape binding the DMG together just as it was when I purchased it when I was 12 years old. And in those books we found a world apart, one that we could create on our own and populate with creatures and things and characters of our choosing. The world that Gary helped make possible.

There have been writers who have been far more influential in my life, some of whom I've had the great pleasure to get to know well and call my friends. But Gary's efforts helped start it all. He helped make it OK to have an imagination and not get beaten up because you'd rather imagine yourself as a ranger slaying drow than catching a touchdown pass.

He left the world a better place for many people who otherwise might not have been OK with who they are.

So: thank you Gary. From the bottom of my heart.

1 comment:

grey_zealot said...

"A great deal of character work lies not in describing the characters, but in describing the shape that they leave in the world. ..." -- Terry Pratchett

Good-bye, Mr. Gygax. May this be a new adventure for you.