The King is Dead! The Passing of Gary Gygax
I’m not typically prone to sentimentality, at least not in a public forum and I’m not going to start now. Everyone has said a great deal about this man today. The internet is popping with posts and comments of praise about Gary Gygax. Instead, I’m going to take a moment of reflection to see how he impacted me. Did I know him? Sure, as many of us did through his works and he impacted a lot of us. I got indoctrinated into the Cult of the Die at a young age. Heck, I go back to Chainmail and I grew up in a family run hobby shop, Viking Hobbies. We introduced roleplaying to the Midsouth Area and we had guests from TSR come down from time to time. Did I love D&D? Yes. Did I think Gygax was awesome? Sure enough? Do I wonder how things would’ve developed had roleplaying had its roots in different soil? Certainly. Game designers and developers are a creative lot and I often wonder how things might have been instead of how they are. Take, for example, comics in North America versus Japan if you want to see another what if scenario being played out before your very eyes.
Roleplaying has been a part of my life. Always. It’s one of the things that define me. Still, as I’ve grown, I’ve expanded my horizons beyond D&D into other worlds, other settings, other systems, and at some point I began to set sail to seek out horizons of my own. Okay. I wax poetic (blame my often ill-used Literature degree).
When I discovered the passing of Gary Gygax was through trying to get my email to work. It was jammed up. The reason? A lot of posts about Gary’s passing. His work touched a lot of people and we all owe a debt to him. It’s strange to think of how one person can have such a huge impact on some many people. You don’t think of it a whole lot until they’re gone. I haven’t played D&D in years since moving onto systems I develop for, but I’ll be buying the new books when they come out, intrigued and excited about what’s under the hood in 4th Edition, but a part of me sees this as the defining point of the end of an era. Arguably, you can say the industry already passed Gary Gygax and that is, in a large part true. Think of all the amazing things that D&D has spawned…look at video games and now MMOs. Things are constantly evolving and changing, but I doubt the Wright brothers would shake their head at the planes in the skies today, but only marvel at what they wrought. With the passing of Gygax, it’s hard to imagine the elbow grease it takes to get into the industry today and one must certainly need equal parts elbow grease and madness to attempt such a thing. Still, the bell sounds loudly as we pause in our toil. The King is Dead! The King is Dead! We have to wonder who shall next pull the sword from the stone? Who shall rise to the throne? One must note it sits sad and vacant and, it is apparent, now more than ever, it has not truly been occupied in years.
More than anything else he has been credited with, he gave us gamers something far more precious to us than most might mention, he gave us memories.
Rest In Peace, Gygax!