I remember the first time I saw the name Gary Gygax. I was in 1oth grade, standing in a corner store in Oscoda, Michigan. It was a narrow aisle, packed with all manner of toys, model cars, and books. Some friends told me of game using a complex set of rules, twenty-sided dice, and sheets of graph paper. They’d sent me to the store to take a closer look at the game, the rules of which lay within the confines of some books. The name Gary Gygax was emblazoned upon the back of a the Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, right next to the TSR branding. The book explained how the player could create a character, using a defined set of rules, and play with others in a world of rich imagination.
That was the official beginning of my interest in science fantasy, and so many things have spawned from that simple time. I can recall countless hours spent around my dining room table, laughing and experiencing the theater of AD&D. So many people still share my life, who shared that time. I look back, with fondness, and recall the names of people like Jon Mancuso, Chuck Sloan, Esau Garcia, Gary Lacey, David Hocking, and so many others. We broke bread together. We played together. We even got into trouble together. For us, AD&D wasn’t a consuming or dangerous game, it was a social past time which enabled participation in a rich tapestry of gaming activity. Those were good times, appropriate for their circa.
Gary Gygax leaves us with an enduring legacy, one which touched so many peoples lives in a positive manner. Quite the genius, if you ask me. Some are born out of history, at the wrong time, but Gygax found the precise moment in history as he transformed Tolkien’s fantasy epics into a tangible journey of the mind.