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Thursday, March 13, 2008

And Once There Was Gygax

Gary Gygax passed away while I was off in Spain. You can say you what you want about who wrote what when or why - but there isn't a man on the planet who shouldn't be able to acknowledge what he helped spark when he helped birth an entire genre. A genre - as in something that will encompass not just your work ... but a body of work to follow.

The love from the net has been flowing strong ... probably because Gygax was such a protogeek that most geeks have felt some kind of heritage with him and the rest have at least a passing reference at his name.

For me, Dungeons and Dragons was a seminal experience in social gaming. Basically you can categorize such things as board games with the family and D&D with my brother and cousins and then later an Atari 2600 and Intellivision. Obviously these two groups have different aspects. I didn't campaign with Night Stalker nor did I spend days drawing on graph paper for Pitfall.

It's easy to forget now, now in the days of Wii, that back then paper was king. Even with the television around, if one could get a good game going around the table one often would. Thanks to Gygax and his kind, my brother and I were hooked. We broadened our taste for the whole experience past even what TSR could offer - our masive library included Doctor Who, James Bond, Marvel, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Frontiers, Boot Hill, Rifts, TMNT, Robotech and even Toon ... the oddball collaboration between Steve Jackson and Greg Costikyan. We weren't limited by systems or genre - we would just play whatever struck us (or whatever had just been released).

This all lasted up through college. I even wrote my own ruleset which actually was probably the last campaign I ever GM'd.

Honestly I think there's a section of gaming which computer still just completely fail us. The closest to getting people around a table and agreeing to a set of rules I can think of there is a decent LAN match with everyone being able to (at the very least) yell at each other.

Let's face it - if you can't look at your friend who, during the loosely based alliances of such games, just backstabbed you in the eye ... you're really losing something. And VOIP doesn't even come close to cutting it.

So rest in peace, Gary. Rest in peace.

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