Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The title of this post comes from an article in The San Francisco Chronicle about the death of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. I never played D & D but I have read series' of books, like the Dragonlance Chronicles that take story elements from the game. I can't claim to be knowledgeable about role playing games but I do remember when D & D became the big thing. The Chronicle sums up the culture around the game quite well. ... in 1974, when D&D was invented, and later in the 1970s, when Advanced Dungeons & Dragons became immensely popular, it was a unique form of entertainment made by intelligent outcasts for intelligent outcasts who previously had little or no foothold in popular culture. As much as Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, Gygax helped muscle fantasy into the mainstream. If you were a teenage or preteen kid in the late '70s or early '80s, playing D&D was also about belonging in a world where the nerds hadn't quite figured out how to get their revenge. Much like the popular kids' letterman jacket, carrying around a Dungeon Master's Guide or a Monster Manual - both stamped with "By Gary Gygax" in big white letters across the bottom - was a sign that you were part of something. Ain't that the truth? I've always felt more at home with people who understand why I like to read fantasy books and watch sci-fi films. People who don't scoff because I would still pay good money to see a Star Trek film. But Gygax did more than just create a nerd sub-culture. He created something that has crossed all social boundaries when you think about it. Role playing games have gone mainstream with virtually every household owning something made by Playstation and Nintendo. Whether those people who favor the shooter games know it or not, Gygax may very well have influenced the creation of all forms of role playing entertainment. But I don't need to tell this crowd that do I? Tell the truth. How many of you were up late last night playing World of Warcraft?